Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Nestle - a sweeter life?

A profoundly interesting article "A Life Less Sweet" in The Economist on Nestle the foods giant. Nestle has long been on my Sincerity wish-list of clients: the corporate symbolism detailed by its outgoing CEO Paul Bulcke of the company founded in 1867 to save a child's life wiht Henri Nestle's milk powder is powerful.

A profundity beyond merely the corporate success of $90BN in sales across 189 countries and brands such as KitKat and Nespresso.

And added value now wth the new CEO Ulf Mark Schneider breaking the merry-go-round of leadership from other behemoths such as Kaft or Heinz or Danone.

But rather, his joining from Fresenius, a kidney dialysis healthcare firm, a leap to the future as consumer tastes and legislation limit HFSS (High Fat Salt and Sugar foods) such as chocolate bars, icecream and dairy and frozen pizza that makes up much of the Nestle corporate shopping basket.

And the growth in Healthy Eating and Superfoods and food science ensuring a packed agenda. In the dying months of 2016 UN WHO warning against red meat, and this week a further warning on over-cooked food such as roast potatos or crisps or toast as cancer-forming.

Any day now one of the supermarkets will break from the pack with HFSS branding and merchandising and divesting tobacco sales or profits.

While prices ranges from the expansion of discount retailers such as Lidl have brought into focus a Brexit price rise of potentially 10% or more on Kit Kat and Pure Life bottled water.

The former subject to currency fluctuations from the Ivory Coast cocoa markets, although price increases on non-traded water likely to be met only with product substitutions by canny retailers for say Welsh or Scottish spring waters. Although if the Celtic nations also divest the UK single market in favour of independence referenda and the EU then its just Buxton water in every supermarket.

But that's where Nestle has strategic strength in depth with the outgoing Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe possibly continuing as honorary chairman following his dynamic work on Water and UNSDG30. As with Unilever's Paul Polman a shift in FMCG brands towards CSR work enlightening their brands.

And the growth potential of underperforming or neglected products such as Lean Cuisine or Nestle's Health Science group with medico-nutritious ranges such as vitamin drinks for the elderly and cancer patients.

Or Nestle food research and work with new drugs firms for illness prevention and palliative care such as recent successes in reformulating sugar to retain sweetness with fewer calories. And Stouffer's frozen food range aimed at men's health such as protein supplements.

And as a $90BN behemoth - wealthier than many nations - Nestle has a strong CSR and Fairtrade nutritional role as well as affecting the sugar markets of Cuba or Thailand or the cocoa markets of Senegal and Ivory Coast.

As with Unilvever, and less so Proctor and Gamble, shouldn't Nestle be a business force for good and making the world that little bit sweeter?


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