But there are some companies whose commercial leaders have gotten it. One company is Nestle.
With the world’s population facing unprecedented levels of under-nutrition and obesity, the issue has taken on global urgency. Nestlé’s senior management has acted by creating a global Nutrition, Health & Wellness (NH&W) strategy. As part of its strategy, it has made the public commitment, aligned with UN Sustainability Development Goal #2 (No Hunger) and #3 (Good Health and Well-Being), to transform its product line by offering healthier choices. Specifically, it has pledged to:
It’s also won them financial returns. Earlier this year Nestlé announced that its 2018 net profit rose to 10.1 billion Swiss francs ($10.03 billion), with sales rising 2.1 percent.
As the company states in its most recent Annual Review, “Winning with consumers is the source of our sustainable financial performance and our way to earning trust and maintain our market leadership. Based on a compelling Nutrition, Health and Wellness strategy, our company delivers sustainable value over the short term and the long term."
To find out how Nestlé is integrating its NH&W strategy into its business, I spoke with Wendy
One important way we have integrated this into our business is by embedding the development and governance of this strategy within our Executive Board. Each public commitment within our “Creating Shared Value” platform is ultimately championed and led by a member of our Executive Board, which drives fulfilment of our commitments across the commercial businesses. Specifically, the Board works to:
As part of Nestlé’s nutrition strategy, the Board approved a comprehensive set of nutrition-related targets directly linked to the SDGs. These targets are measured at a country level and are reported up to global leadership, which includes the Executive Board.
MK: How are the U.S. operations of Nestlé doing on these targets?
WJ: The global targets are cascaded to countries, which are then expected to incorporate those most applicable to their local area. In the U.S., we have made quite a bit of headway especially in the reduction of sodium and sugar in our foods. This requires working closely with the business on reformulation, consumer testing, and then working with our retail partners to get the products in the hands of our consumers.
In the U.S., our focus has been on educating parents on the importance of nutrition early in childhood (birth to 4 years). We took learnings from leading nutrition experts as well as learnings from our Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study, a Nestlé study of what young children eat, and developed a peer-reviewed, unbranded curriculum that we are piloting in six New Jersey locations. We are partnering in several communities with the YWCA to offer a series of classes to parents on topics such as the importance of breakfast, the introduction of solid foods, how to handle picky eating, increasing fruit and veggies, and transitioning to table food. We are working with Rutgers University to conduct pre- and post-testing to see how much parents have learned and are also identifying parents who have gone through the classes who can become peer educators and deliver the program further into their communities.
We will look at the results from these pilots and decide how to scale up the program, including looking at options to reach a broader audience through digital platforms.
MK: Why is the obesity crisis important to Nestlé?
WJ: Nestlé has been in business for more than 150 years and looks forward to being in business for 150 years more. Our company’s purpose is enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. That is among the reasons why we are so keenly focused on helping address challenges around nutrition and wellness, including obesity, faced by our consumers and employees. For our business to succeed, we need to ensure the future health of our employees and consumers. We need to see longevity in our communities to ensure the longevity of our business.