The Jeuns

Utilizing AI and Data Science to Address Environmental Issues in Coffee Production

April 16, 2024 | by The Jeuns

Nestlé is at the forefront of using data science and artificial intelligence to develop climate-resilient plants in the face of environmental challenges. As climate change continues to impact the availability of land suitable for growing hardy and weather-resistant coffee plants, Nestlé’s plant scientists are turning to data science to identify key factors for cultivating healthy crops.

By utilizing AI technology to analyze a digital database of coffee traits such as cherry size, flavor, aroma characteristics, and yield, Nestlé aims to create more sustainable coffee cultivation practices. This approach will help in planting disease- and drought-resistant beans, ensuring a more resilient coffee industry in the future.

Jeroen Dijkman, head of Nestlé’s Institute of Agricultural Sciences, explains that this new reference is like a detailed map of a city, allowing scientists to identify genetic markers responsible for specific traits in coffee plants. This knowledge will facilitate the selection and breeding of new and improved arabica coffee varieties.

Nestlé’s focus on Arabica coffee is crucial, as it constitutes 70% of the world’s coffee production and faces challenges due to its susceptibility to disease and lower heat tolerance. To address these issues, Nestlé collaborated with the French National Institute for Sustainable Development and other academic partners to conduct genome sequencing of Arabica coffee strains.

Co-author of the research paper, Patrick Descombes, highlights the use of cutting-edge genomics approaches to create an advanced arabica reference. This initiative is part of Nestlé’s regenerative agriculture plan, known as the Nescafé Plan 2030.

Nestlé’s coffee segment has been experiencing steady growth, with coffee sales making up a significant portion of the company’s revenue. Brands under Nestlé’s coffee portfolio include Nescafe, Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Starbucks Coffee at Home, and Blue Bottle Coffee. Through innovative techniques and collaborations, Nestlé is positioning itself as a leader in sustainable coffee production for the future.

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