Starbucks, Nestlé Delivering Dairy’s Sustainability Story

  • 3 min read June 21, 2023

When I think of Starbucks and Nestlé, I think of McDonald’s.

No, I don’t have a concept for the next great dairy product innovation involving these three global entities.

Instead, I think back to when the dairy checkoff entered a partnership with McDonald’s in 2009. It was our first time working with a company of their stature and – at least initially – there was a good bit of living in the unknown for farmers. But we quickly learned about the power of partnering with an internationally recognized company and how they elevate dairy’s presence on their menus with checkoff support.

Starbucks and Nestlé are helping farmers in another important area: sustainability. They are partners of the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative (NZI) and each has invested $10 million over 5 years to support farmers on their transition to net zero. On-farm pilot work is possible thanks to the support of these companies and several others. The goal is to demonstrate practices and technologies that are environmentally sustainable, feasible and economically viable for all U.S. dairies.

But there is something else that Starbucks and Nestlé offer as universal brands that is important to farmers. They have earned the longtime loyalty of consumers. The research they are supporting is not only good for farmers, but it builds further trust that the dairy they use to make their products is sustainably sourced, which research shows matters more and more in today’s changing marketplace.

As we continue to celebrate National Dairy Month, I’m excited to see Starbucks and Nestlé share consumer-focused updates of our collaboration via their influential communications channels.

Starbucks has published content in the “Starbucks Stories & News” section of its website, providing an overview of its Sustainable Dairy Program in the U.S. The work aims to advance environmental stewardship, enhance farmer and workforce conditions and help ensure the quality care of animals.

The story highlights how the company has enrolled 100 percent of the dairy it purchases in California in the program with a goal of enrolling more than 60 percent of its total U.S. supply chain by year’s end.

Additionally, Starbucks is working with Florida’s Alliance Dairies and owner Jan Henderson on implementing technologies and practices to demonstrate outcomes that can be shared to help all farmers. 

On the Nestlé front, the company is spotlighting its Nestlé Health Science collaboration with Washington dairy farmer Austin Allred. The company is supporting innovation at Allred’s dairy in the areas of sustainable feed, manure management, renewable energy and regenerative agriculture. Allred’s Royal Dairy farm joins Nestlé Health Science’s family of dairy suppliers for its Carnation Breakfast Essentials ® nutritional powder drink mix.

What I love hearing about these projects is that Starbucks and Nestlé team members have visited dairy farms. They are open-minded and listening to and learning from the best sources possible: my farming peers. It’s been a true collaboration.

I’m excited to see the research-based outcomes of these partnerships that will help farms of all sizes, regions and styles be better at the environmental commitments we have made for a long time.

I’m just as excited to see Starbucks and Nestlé sharing the great work that is going on with the audience that matters to all of us: their consumers and customers.