Cocoa-shell fertilizer: Nestle and Cargill team on regenerative agriculture

Food giants Nestle and Cargill have teamed up on a pioneering new scheme that will take cocoa shells discarded from a chocolate factory and transform them into low-carbon fertilizer.  

Announcing the tie-up, the companies said they were aiming to produce 7,000 tonnes of low-carbon fertilizer that will be offered to farmers that supply Nestle UK & Ireland's breakfast cereals and pet food factories.

U.K. startup CCm Technologies is to provide the technology for the scheme, building on its recent work with Tesco and PepsiCo to accelerate the roll out of low-carbon fertilizer products made from waste materials. The company has pioneered a technology that combines gases captured from anaerobic digesters or industrial power plants with fibrous material from food waste and sewage sludge and ammonia and phosphates recovered from wastewater to produce sustainable fertilizers.

In this instance, cocoa shells discarded by a Cargill cocoa processing factory in York will be transformed into fertilizer pellets and supplied to arable farmers that work with Nestle.

Over the coming two years, the partners will measure the resulting emissions reduction, soil health and crop yield performance of the low-carbon fertilizer compared to emissions-intensive conventional products.

If successful, the scheme should produce enough low-carbon fertilizer to cover a quarter of Nestle's fertilizer use for wheat in the U.K., significantly reducing the emissions generated across the food giant's supply chain.

We've compared 2 parts of the field, 1 which used the cocoa shell fertilizer and 1 which used the conventional fertilizer, and there is no significant difference in the yield, so we can see that it works.

Matt Ryan, regeneration lead at Nestle UK & Ireland, described the project as "a small, but very meaningful step towards a net zero future, where farmers, local enterpr

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