Nestlé always consistent with its goal towards sustainability

08:00 | 10/02/2021
Looking back on the 25-year development journey of Nestlé in Vietnam, managing director Binu Jacob explains how the corporation has been following the mantra “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart” to reach where it stands today.        

COVID-19 is back right at the year-end consumption time. Does this affect Nestlé’s business results?

It is too early to quantify any impact of the latest outbreak. People are at the heart of our business and we continue to work tirelessly to keep our employees, business partners and the communities where we operate healthy and safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

We are committed to ensuring continued production and delivery of our foods and beverages for Vietnamese consumers, particularly during Tet Holidays, by continuing to work closely with our supply chain, distribution and retail partners. We keep a strong belief in the capability and management of the Vietnamese Government to effectively contain any possible outbreak.

Few days after the outbreak in Hai Duong, we joined effort with relevant authorities to provide people living in four lockdown districts of the province some 45,000 units of nutritional products to help them overcome the difficult time.

We have also donated 100,000 milk products for nearly 1,000 school children in quarantine and hundreds of nutritional drinks for healthcare professionals in Hai Duong Centre of Disease Control.

nestle always consistent with its goal towards sustainability
Nestlé Vietnam has recently supported the frontliners in Hai Duong to fight against COVID-19

2020 was the year highlighting the quarter-century milestone of Nestlé in Vietnam. How would you summarise this 25-year development journey?

Sustainable development! Before coming to Vietnam, I had spent 23 years working for Nestlé all over Europe, America, and Asia. That time was long enough to understand that Nestlé’s “sustainable development” values must be preserved and continued in Vietnam.

Over the past 155 years, the global sustainable development strategy of Nestlé group has been built on three areas under our influence: Individuals and families; Community; and Planet. In Vietnam, all business and social activities have been consistently aimed to do good in these three areas for the past 25 years.

nestle always consistent with its goal towards sustainability
Binu Jacob, managing director of Nestlé Vietnam

We have helped 21,000 farmers achieve 4C certification for the sustainable cultivation and processing of coffee; 1.5 million rural women start businesses; 2.5 million children stay active with sports; 2 million mothers raise their children following more scientifically proven and better practices; as well as generate jobs for 2,800 employees and 10,000 indirect workers nationwide.

In particular, during our 25 years of unwavering pursuit of the goal of “enhancing Vietnamese lives”, we have unlocked the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone today and for generations to come.

How has Nestlé incorporated the goal of “Enhancing Vietnamese lives” into its business activities?

Since our first factory was built in 1995, Nestlé has had six factories in Vietnam so far. The scale and investment capital of $650 million in 2021 not only represents our long-term development commitment but also acts as a promise to enhance quality of life and build a better future for Vietnamese generations.

Nestlé Vietnam has developed many product lines suitable for all ages, various life stages, and conditions of Vietnamese people. Nutritious products for children, students, active young people, families, and the elderly are continuously improved from the formula to the taste in order to bring better benefits to human health. Most recently, Nestlé has introduced a line of organic products to promptly meet the demand for organic consumption and keep up with the green living trends in the world.

Nestlé entered Vietnam in 1995 when the country was just opening its doors to the world. It was among the first foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) setting foot in the country. However, not many FIEs opted for a sustainable path right from the beginning. Did it seem like an uphill battle, and were you ever discouraged on the journey?

During 25 years of “Enhancing Vietnamese lives”, Nestlé Vietnam and its brands have garnered growing companionship and trust from consumers. Our products have come to life and become an indispensable part in every family and generation. That is the greatest source of motivation for us, keeping us determined and true to our course.

Nestlé has set out many different goals on a global scale in its 2030 strategy. In that strategy, Vietnam plays a meaningful part and contributes greatly to the global goals.

In order to bring products to consumers, we have also established long-term relationships with business partners. They joined hands to build the foundation and help generations of Vietnamese families get more familiar with Nestlé’s famous “bird’s nest” symbol.

We also received active support from central to local authorities in investment and business expansion activities, making Nestlé the largest Swiss investor in Vietnam today. The numerous awards and merits from departments and agencies are a recognition for Nestlé’s efforts and achievements to contribute to the community, the environment, and the economy.

The warmest encouragement on this journey, however, came from the faith of the 2,800 employees of the company. They are the ones who operate each production line, come up with newer, more creative ways to do business and suit the local culture, while carrying out social projects to all regions.

What motivation do you and Nestlé receive from the staff to continue pursuing this journey?

I came to Vietnam in early April 2020 when the whole country was applying social distancing due to COVID-19. What impressed me the most at that time was that my staff, in less than three weeks, had delivered all the goods worth more than VND12 billion ($521,740) to doctors, soldiers, officers, and people in quarantine areas. Despite all the difficulties, they worked day and night to help the frontliners fight against the epidemic.

In production and business, we have had many outstanding initiatives contributed by our staff to help the company overcome difficulties during the pandemic. To combat the storm with the company, they have set up and applied “5 plus 1” top priorities, including safety for the employees; supply and distribution channel optimisation; interacting with consumers; joining hands to support the government and community; and financial management.

75 per cent of Nestlé Vietnam employees are aged between 22 and 37. There is a sense of enthusiasm and devotion of the youth inside them, contributing to the company and society. What comes from the heart, goes to the heart. I truly appreciate the contributions of my Vietnamese colleagues. It is they who inspire me and empower Nestlé to persistently pursue its sustainable development goals.

What goals will Nestlé set for the next quarter century in Vietnam?

Nestlé has set out many different goals on a global scale in its 2030 strategy. In that strategy, Vietnam plays a meaningful part and contributes greatly to the global goals.

For example, Nestlé aims to help 30 million children in 191 countries to lead a healthier and happier life. Nestlé Vietnam alone will contribute nearly 10 per cent of this target, much higher than the market size.

At the same time, Nestlé is also promoting the circular economy and Nestlé MILO is the first brand in Vietnam to replace plastic straws with paper straw. Paper straws are three times as expensive as plastic ones, but we remain committed to keep the product prices unchanged. We also co-founded Vietnam Packaging Recycling Organization (PRO Vietnam) and encouraged many other businesses to collect and recycle packaging, bringing long-term benefits to the country and the environment.

In 2021, Nestlé Vietnam will roll out even more impressive sustainable development plans. We hope to receive valuable support and contribute to the prosperity of the community as well as to the strong development of the country in the coming decades.

By Cong Thuy

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