Paul Bulcke

Talking to Paul Bulcke, Nestlé CEO, in SA

Nestlé’s global CEO, Paul Bulcke, was recently in SA to cut the ribbon on the giant’s new factories in Babelegi, Hammanskraal, a R500m investment. While here, he was asked and answered some questions….

How much has Nestlé invested in expanding operations in Babelegi, Hammanskraal?

The two new production sites are a R500m investment for the manufacture of Milo and Cheerios breakfast cereal and the addition of production lines for Maggi noodles, costing R243m and R173m respectively. In addition the existing creamers factory will be expanded for additional capacity due to increased demand, at a cost of R47m. An expanded distribution centre will cost R37m.

What will it mean for the surrounding community?

The Babelegi community attended the inauguration and the investment alone has created more than 130 jobs in the two factories and 300 indirect jobs over 20 months during construction.

How do you see SA and the Southern Africa region fitting into your global business strategy?

We haven’t just discovered SA. We have been present in the country for almost 100 years and of the 30 production sites in Africa 12 are in SA, as well as four distribution centres. We employ 3700 people permanently in SA. We see great growth opportunities and this latest direct investment is proof of our continuous commitment to SA and the entire continent. Over the past two years we have invested SwFr1bn in Africa.

Are you shifting your focus from developed markets to emerging markets, as other major food companies have?

Emerging markets are growing at double-digit figures while the developed markets are suffering from low consumer confidence. But we have had a platform in the emerging markets space for a century and we are now building on that. By a platform I mean our people and our understanding of those markets. In the developed markets we have to be creative even though there is negative growth.

Do you condone what has been called “land grabs” – the purchasing of land in Africa by rich countries for the purpose of agricultural production?

We don’t own land, not even a single tree or a cow. We engage with stakeholders. There are about 2000 agronomists on our payroll throughout the world but we invest with and engage stakeholders, we don’t own.

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