Nestlé has held its Annual General Meeting outlining its 2020 growth and its strategic direction moving forward, which has a focus on sustainability.

Speaking at the AGM, Chairman Paul Bulcke, outlined that it is the responsibility of all company’s to be safeguarding our future through sustainable practices.

Professor Lindiwe Majele Sibanda was newly elected to the board. Professor Sibanda is the Chairwoman and Director of the African Research Universities Alliance Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

“Thanks to her hands on farming experience coupled with her expertise in the field of environmental sustainability, public policy and sustainable food systems, Professor Sibanda will provide invaluable perspective and guidance,” said Bulcke.

“Her extensive knowledge and experience across the African continent as well as across the globe will enrich the Board’s worldwide insights, and of Nestlé.”

Bulcke also thanked outgoing Board member Ursula Burns who had served on the Nestlé Board of Directors since 2017.

Nestlé saw 3.6 per cent organic growth, 17.7 per cent growth in its profitability, and 14.7 per cent growth in its return on investment in 2020.

“In 2020 Nestlé once again recorded an increase in its organic growth, its profitability, and its return on investment.

“Over the course of this unprecedented year Nestlé has remained as resilient and dependable as it has been in the past.”

“I therefore reiterate to you, in these times of great uncertainty, Nestlé continues to stand for resilience, dependability and consistency over time.

“Nestlé is the ‘Good food, good life’ company. We strongly believe in the power of food to enhance life. With that in mind we strive to make a difference so that food improves the lives of people and pets, protects, and enhances the environment and generates significant value for our shareholders, and other stakeholders alike,” said Bulcke.

“In everything we want to accomplish we are guided by our strategic focus: Nutrition, health and wellness. We bring affordable, safe and high-quality nutrition regardless of income level, thanks to our long-standing presence all over the world.

“We maintain an unrelenting focus on innovation and investment as crucial divers of sustainable performance. This means investing in our brands, investing in key growth platforms, investing in research and development. This means developing ecosystems and digital capabilities in all of our activities.

“It also involves playing our part to find solutions to the social and environmental problems we are currently facing. Not only is it the right thing to do, we do this out of conviction because this approach is a strategic imperative for any company that wants to safeguard its future.

“It is with this framing that Nestlé has developed its roadmap to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Published in December and validated by the ‘Science-Based Targets’ initiative, we were among the first to share such a detailed time-bound plan, with a precise timetable.

“By 2030, Nestlé is committed to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases by half. Nestlé is committed to being fully transparent about its plans, actions, and progress.

“Going forward, all aspects of Nestlé’s environmental, social and governance agenda will be regularly reviewed, including overseeing the Group’s efforts on climate change, human rights and people management, specifically diversity and inclusion.

“In 2020, we updated and rearticulated our purpose and beliefs, the ‘why’ we exist. At Nestlé ‘We unlock the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come’.

“This purpose describes the fundamental motivation that underlines each decision taken by our Company. Creating shared value is our operational approach. To be successful over time, a company must create value – both for itself and for society at large.

“COVID-19 has reminded us of the importance of societal wellbeing in the broader sense, health, employment, equality, long-term prosperity. Nestlé recognized this long before and pursues ambitious goals and commitments that align with and support the Sustainable Development Goals.

“By the end of 2020, the majority of our commitments were fully achieved. This year, efforts will be intensified to achieve those that are still in progress and in close reach. New ambitions will also be set, which will further enhance the health of our planet, drive continuous progress on social issues, and support a healthy food system.

“This will require a fundamental shift in the way we produce and consume food. We must not underestimate this challenge, but on the other hand, we must not shy away from the search for solutions either.

“Nestlé is well positioned to seize this opportunity. It has the ambition, the critical mass, the breadth of activities, the depth of understanding, and the determination to do its part.”

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