Javier Luna
Nutrition, Regulatory, and External Affairs Sr. Manager for LATAM
View from the Top

Nestlé Focuses on Public Health Issues

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 14:21

Q: What role does innovation play in Nestlé’s corporate strategy?

A: Mexico’s public health issues are one of Nestlé’s biggest concerns. Our new corporate agenda focuses on reducing the levels of sodium and sugar in several products of our portfolio. We are finding better and healthier ingredients that will increase our client’s options. Consumers must make informed decisions and we are helping them in the process. Nestlé continuously innovates and assesses product releases. This is the spirit of the company. With a 150-year history, Nestlé has always emphasized and stressed innovation practices. There are instances where renovations are the only logical step forward, but fulfilling emerging market needs with new product releases is crucial as well. To date, Nestlé is innovating in the food supplement and infant formula segments. We are producing better products with advanced health and nutrition traits for consumers.

Q: How relevant is the infant nutrition portfolio for the company and what gaps is Nestlé aiming to close in this segment?

A: Infant nutrition is an important segment to Nestlé. The whole industry, alongside government and academia, is working on ways to minimize breastfeeding complications. We were the first company in Mexico to innovate in this regard by adding probiotics to our infant formula product line. As a result, Nestlé leads the market in probiotic administration. Our clinical trials have had a 90-percent success rate positioning us at the top of the herd. In addition, Nestlé’s OPTIPRO® innovation optimizes protein intake by creating an equivalence to breast milk, which has been implemented in our GOOD START and NAN brands.

Q: How much is the probiotic market growing in Mexico?

A: Components that add value to products are increasingly demanded by consumers. For instance, 10 years ago nucleotides were administered to different types of products. Even though they were poorly received at first due to price increments they later became mandatory worldwide. I foresee that probiotic implementation will behave similarly as their positive effect on children cannot be denied. Consumers must first understand the health benefits of these additives. Thereafter, the market will reshape itself. As of today, Nestlé has added probiotics and prebiotics to 150 of its products and we see the trend rising.

Q: To what extent has COFEPRIS’ seal of quality helped Nestlé and its products?

A: We are quite pleased and extremely optimistic about this. Countries like Japan have implemented similar measures which have had a tremendous impact on companies that were granted this recognition. Even though only some of our products have received the nutritional seal from COFEPRIS, we are working on spreading this across our portfolio. Before Nestlé’s accreditation, LICONSA was the only entity with such recognition and it helped put the company on higher ground.

Q: What collaborations with organizations and associations have you created to promote a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet?

A: Nestlé has a worldwide social responsibility initiative, collaborating with multiple stake holders around the world. We have established relationships with Mexican medical and nutrition societies on a local, state and federal level. In addition, Nestlé has implemented internal programs to promote healthier lifestyle habits in Mexico, Nestlé’s global initiative led us to their development, but they must be regionalized. We are allocating economic resources and human capital to this endeavor, which reiterates our commitment to the programs. Mexico has growing issues with obesity, malnourishing and breast feeding, which calls for an action plan to promptly come into force. We are always looking to partner with the government and academia, share our efforts, grow our scope and reach our goals at a faster pace.

Nestlé wants to become a nutrition leader by thoroughly understanding people's lifestyle and dietary intake. In addition, we must secure our position as industry leaders in nutrition and health research with the help of internal programs and external collaborations.