Nestlé wartime Ukraine investment is a lesson in ‘living up to beliefs’

Good morning, this is Peter Vanham. Standing in for Alan.

Some companies like to take risks. Others do not. And then there’s Nestle, a consumer goods company that makes Nespresso, KitKat, baby formula, and more. The Swiss giant announced this week that it will invest $43 million in building a new food factory in Ukraine. The factory is located in the western part of the country and produces food for both local consumption and European export.

What made the 156-year-old company invest in Ukraine?

“This is a testament to our commitment,” Nestlé Chairman Paul Burke told me by phone from Chile. “We want to show that the Ukrainian people can count on us. We want them to know that we are consistent in our beliefs and reliable in our commitment to them. sea ​​bream.

Nestlé is no stranger to getting involved in war-torn countries or countries facing other types of instability. It remained in Myanmar throughout the military regime, in Cuba and Venezuela throughout the communist takeover, and in Zimbabwe through the era of sanctions. (The fact that the headquarters is in neutral Switzerland helped in that regard.)

But last year, the company’s commitment to serving consumers regardless of the political situation underwent its toughest test yet. True to its history, but unlike many of its Western competitors, Nestlé remained active in Russia, but focused only on essential foods such as powdered milk. ” is abolished.

Russia’s stance was not universally welcomed and angered Ukrainians in particular. In this context, too, Bulke added, he must look at the decision of the Ukrainian factory. “By investing in Ukraine, we send a signal. We will not abandon the Ukrainian people. One day the war will end.”

That doesn’t mean that investing is solely about values. However, our activities are a force for the betterment of society. We believe that agricultural inputs are there and western Ukraine is safe. ”

Any lessons for other companies? “In a world of increasing ambiguity, you have to live by your beliefs and stand by them,” said the Nestlé veteran.

“If you allow yourself to be conditioned by externalities, you end up with a ping-pong ball,” concludes Bulke.

More news below.

Peter Vanham
@ peter van ham

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