Javier Luna
Senior Manager in Health Nutrition and Wellness
Nestlé Mexico
View from the Top

Different Issues Required Different Approaches

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:01

Q: What are the main nutritional issues in Mexico and how is Nestlé approaching these?

A: Our research has highlighted several issues in Mexico. We have conducted a series of studies we developed (Kids Nutrition and Health Study and Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study) and we have performed R&D with our partners at Nestlé Research Center in North Carolina, and Nestlé Mexico has worked with different national research institutes, such as the Public Health Institute (INSP). The first study relates to hydration among children. They consume a large quantity of sugary drinks but lack regular water intake. Second, in Mexico around 17 percent of children and teenagers skip breakfast every day, which is very serious in nutritional terms. Many of those who do have this meal eat sugary bread in addition to sweetened beverages, while the intake of grains is very low. Finally, a third trend is a shortage of fruit and vegetables in infant diets.

To battle these issues, we have established different approaches. Nestlé has pledged to reduce ingredients such as sugar and salt in all its products globally. Locally, we have different action plans. Among these there is a program called Portion Guidance, which includes suggested portions in a product’s label. Another campaign related to our water lines promotes water consumption and we have also been improving our cereal brands (no artificial flavors, whole grains as a first ingredient and reduced sugar). Mexico Gerber has reformulated its infant cereals to eliminate added sugar. Gerber has also launched a new organic product of fruits and vegetables for babies and preschoolers that is presented in pouches. Regarding all the diabetes issues in the country, in 2017 we will launch a new line of products under the Boost brand called Boost Glucose Control. This product specializes in nutrition for diabetics.

Q: What new technology are you pursuing in children’s nutrition?

A: Infant nutrition is a constant topic for our research budget and we are now focused on low-protein infant formulas in response to excess protein intake around the world, which is known to cause illness, especially in infants. Through our process called OPTIPRO, we are trying to make the milk we use for our infant formula as close as possible to breast milk, which will make it easier to digest.

Q: How are Nestlé’s programs encouraging healthy eating habits in Mexico?

A: Nestlé has reorganized its business vision to focus on three areas: the person and the family, the community and the planet. In the first category, the goal of our full portfolio is to provide better nutrition and nutritional options for consumers. Toward that goal, we also have three philanthropic programs: United for Healthier Kids, Healthy Kids and Start Healthy, Stay Healthy. These three programs promote nutritional orientation, the prevention of child obesity and healthy pregnancy and baby health. The second category includes: Cocoa Plan, Nescafé Plan and Dairy Commitment to ensure a stronger value chain and to help local agricultural entities become certified providers for Nestlé. Finally, for the planet, Nestlé has made a water-usage pledge and implemented a wastereduction initiative. In Mexico we even have one factory that operates with zero water.

Q: How important is Mexico to Nestlé’s global operations? How much of your manufacturing is done here?

A: Mexico is an important location. Within Nestlé’s global operations, in terms of sales, it is ranked seventh generally and number three worldwide for infant nutrition. Nestlé also has 17 factories in the country. In 2016, we opened our infant nutrition factory called Nantli with an investment of more than US$245 million. This factory will supply markets in Mexico, Latin America and Asia. In 2013, Nestlé Mexico exported more than 86 tons of locally manufactured products to 29 countries and imported more than 29 tons from 14 countries.