by Stefano Agostini
Our CEO, Stefano Agostini, writes for Nestlé.co.uk on his first impressions of Nestlé in the UK and Ireland and how our business is changing and adapting in 2018 and for the future.
Last Summer I was very excited to return to the UK and take up my new role as CEO of Nestlé UK & Ireland.
Nestlé was founded 150 years ago and the UK has always been an important part of the company’s history. Today we are one of the UK’s largest food manufacturers and a major employer.
We offer a much wider range of products than people realise, from mineral water and breakfast cereal to coffee and confectionery, from food and nutrition, to ice cream and petcare. We have amazing brands here and many of them, like KitKat, Quality Street and Aero, were created here, are manufactured here, and are exported all around the world. We have invested heavily to create world-class manufacturing facilities in this country, like our Nescafé factory in Tutbury which is a global coffee centre of excellence, our extensive confectionery campus in York and our multi-million pound waters plant in Buxton.
My first UK experience was as head of Nestlé Waters UK between 2004 and 2007. In the decade I have been away, there have been huge changes. Changes to the way we shop and eat, changes to the way we communicate with each other and changes to the responsibilities and expectations of companies like ours. This is nothing new for us, we have been used to dealing with change throughout our history and have successfully evolved to deliver exactly what people want at that moment in time. With that history and experience we are uniquely placed to change for the future.
Our motto is ‘Good Food, Good Life’, which, for me, says it all. We want to provide great tasting products, that people enjoy but we also want to make them healthier wherever we can. We will be doing more than ever to improve our much loved products, and launch new ones. Last week, we issued a new report demonstrating how we have taken more than 60 billion calories and 2.6 billion teaspoons of sugar out of our UK and Irish products in the last three years while remaining absolutely focused on great tasting food and drink. We will have more big news in the coming weeks. Nestlé has also recently announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Terrafertil, a company selling natural, organic, plant-based foods and healthy snacks. Its products are available in the UK under the Nature’s Heart brand.
Our aim is to continue to invest and grow in the UK and Ireland. The UK food industry faces its challenges and is more competitive than ever. So we will need to become more efficient to compete and offer high quality products that represent great value for money. It is not going to be easy, and sometimes we will have to make difficult choices, but I am confident about the future and what we can achieve.
Personally, I am proud to have this opportunity, but I also have a great sense of responsibility. The food industry is on the frontline of important social challenges, from nutrition and health, to reducing plastic waste, and protecting natural capital. We have worked hard to make our products healthier and to reduce our environmental impact but we need to do more. I believe this is one of the most important responsibilities of my role.
The world is changing, the UK and Ireland are changing, and Nestlé is changing too.