Spices

Spices are essential to our product portfolio. They bring the distinctive flavors that make many of our foods taste the way they do. That’s why we’ve made spices one of our key raw materials. We are determined to buy them transparently and sustainably, and to go beyond certification in our sourcing activities.

Sourcing spices responsibly

Unlike for many of our other raw materials, we’re a relatively small purchaser of spices. We’re working with suppliers and farmers to go beyond certification and seek ever-greater transparency in sourcing spices and deliver positive outcomes in the farming areas.

The program focuses on six key spices used in our recipes: chili, coriander, cumin, turmeric, black pepper and mustard seeds.

We source most of our spices from countries in Asia, including India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia. India, the spice hub of the world, has a wide variation in agro conditions and grows almost half of the world’s spices. Outside of Asia, we also buy mustard seeds from Canada.

Spices are used in many Nestlé products. In particular, our brands Maggi and Thomy use a range of spices in sauces, recipe mixes and meals. Spices are crucial to the taste of many of our products, ensuring that our customers always enjoy a consistent, familiar experience.

The spices we need must be processed before they’re suitable for use in our products, so we buy them from processors, instead of forming exclusive sourcing agreements with farmers. Though we don’t have ownership over the supply chain, our Tier 1 suppliers have strong relationships with the farmers they buy from. Through this network, we have been mapping our supply base and increasing our level of visibility and transparency toward the far end of our spices supply chains.

In order to hold our suppliers and ourselves accountable as well as drive industry-wide transparency, we are making available the list of our Spices Tier 1 suppliers and the list of their processing sites (pdf, 365Kb), along with the country of origin.

Our main sources of spices

Canada, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam.

Our progress

We have set objectives to monitor our progress and will report results in 2019.

Supply chain challenges and solutions


The spices supply chain faces several challenges, including the overuse of agrochemicals and other hazardous chemicals. There are also risks with labor rights, including poor working conditions and child labor.

We recognize these risks, and we’re working proactively with suppliers and farmers to address them. As the supply chain becomes more mature and we collect more data, our focus is on identifying those areas where we can have the biggest impact and working with our suppliers and to address them.

As we move toward a more sustainable world, businesses throughout the industry are recognizing the limitations of buying a certain percentage of product from a certified source. Buyers and suppliers are starting to move toward an approach that develops solutions by engaging directly with farmers, through training, education and community support. Having worked on responsible sourcing for years, we believe it is relevant to innovate and diversify our approach and tools.

Our aim is to go beyond certification by implementing our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb) through a clear framework and by working proactively on any sustainability programs that are already in place. Through this, we aim to find new ways to support smallholder farmers.

Improving conditions for smallholders in India

With our , we’re working on a pilot program in India to ensure we source spices responsibly. The partnership focuses on finding opportunities that will have the biggest impact, while recognizing that we don’t have the influence to tackle all issues at the same time.

, and about 98% of its spice output is produced by small-scale farmers, usually working on a farm less than two hectares, and often not more than one acre. Many of these farmers seasonally rotate other crops along with spices.

This practice presents several sustainability problems, including the overuse of agrochemicals and the use of hazardous chemicals; a lack of soil and nutrient management; market price fluctuations for spices and other crops; pest infestations and changing climatic patterns; reductions in groundwater availability; scarcity of labor and labor rights.

To help tackle these issues, our program has identified four pillars:

  • Resilient livelihoods.
  • Environmental sustainability of farms.
  • Safe living and good working conditions.
  • Workers’ rights and child labor.

We believe that the msot effective solutions come from a foundation of local knowledge. Our project started by assessing the conditions in farming areas and analyzing the intiatives already in place. Following this, we established local partnerships to help us tailor our approach. This means developing action plans to help us effectively implement our Responsible Sourcing Standard, plus training farmers and suppliers. We are also implementing a framework to track our progress on relevant sustainability indicators, which we will start to report on in 2019.

Implementing stringent standards on pesticide use

The use of hazardous chemicals and the overuse of agrochemicals is a major problem in several of the countries we source spices from. This affects not just the consumer, but the farmer and the health of the soil.

Though legislation around the use of pesticides differs from country to country, we implement our own most stringent standards wherever we work – this enables us to export to countries with more stringent laws, and it guarantees the health of the soil into the future.

In India, our key suppliers ensure responsible pesticide use by close monitoring through their agronomists team, and training farmers in terms of overuse, alternative practices and use of hazardous chemicals.


Related policies

Download our Creating Shared Value report

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