Nestlé UK and Ireland, Cargill and CCm Technologies are collaborating on an initiative to assess whether cocoa shells could be used to create a low-carbon fertiliser.
If successful, the two-year trial could result in the production of up to 7,000 tonnes of low-carbon fertiliser, offered to farmers in Nestlé’s UK wheat supply chain. This amount equates to around 25% of Nestlé UK’s total fertiliser use for wheat.
The cocoa shells are supplied by Cargill, which processes the cocoa at its confectionery facility in York to become key ingredients in Nestlé chocolate products such as KitKat and Aero. A trial volume of cocoa shell has been processed and pelletised by Swindon-based CCm Technologies.
The trials are designed and overseen by York-based Fera Science. They are currently taking place on arable farms in Suffolk and Northamptonshire, designed to investigate the fertiliser’s performance in terms of wheat yield and quality, as well as soil biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
The project forms part of Nestlé’s wider sustainability ambitions, in line with commitments to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and sourcing 50% of its key ingredients from regenerative agricultural methods by 2030.
Matt Ryan, regeneration lead at Nestlé UK and Ireland, said: ““Farmers often find themselves to be among the first groups to be exposed to global issues, and these risks are then borne by the food system we all depend upon. We have to find ways to build more resilience into the system and optimising our use of natural resources is a critical part of this.”
Richard Ling, farm manager at Rookery Farm in Norfolk – a supplier of wheat to Nestlé Purina – said that the farm has successfully grown a winter wheat crop using the new fertiliser and has seen no significant difference in the yield compared with conventional fertiliser.
“We are really reassured with the results and are looking at running further trials. It’s a step change to be able to use a fertiliser made from a waste stream and see the same results as using a conventional product,” Ling said.
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