By Marcelo Teixeira – Brisbane Times
Nestlé, the maker of KitKat bars, Smarties and Allen’s Snakes, believes population growth will require human diets to adapt and reduce consumption of sugar, salt and meat products, an executive said on Wednesday.
“We have 7.5 billion people and the population continues to grow, so there is a need to eat more vegetables, cereals, and less sugar, meat products,” said Laurent Freixe, executive vice-president and head of operations in the Americas for the food processing giant.
Limited natural resources on the planet and the growing public health problem of obesity are behind the changes Freixe sees as necessary. He also cited growing public awareness of the food production process as well as issues such as child labour and deforestation.
“We work constantly in the reformulation of our products,” the executive told reporters ahead of an event in Sao Paulo with university students from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Freixe also said public awareness was growing around the world regarding raw materials used to produce food. This poses a challenge for every large food processor, he explained.
“There is a lot more sensitivy on the matter everywhere, not only in Europe or the US. We are in a connected world, people have access to information, consumers want to know where raw materials come from, if they were produced ethically,” Freixe said.
Apart from chocolates and confectionary, Nestlé’s product range includes breakfast cereals such as Uncle Toby’s oats, muesli bars and drinks such as Milo and Nescafé. The company is a major buyer worldwide of coffee, sugar, cocoa and milk, among other commodities.
The company says it clearly states to suppliers that it does not buy raw materials that were produced in recently deforested areas or where child labour has been reported.
Forest fires and deforestation in the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, jumped sharply this year, causing a wave of worldwide criticism regarding how the local government is managing the situation. Global food companies were also pressed by consumers and activists to avoid sourcing commodities from places where forests were recently cleared.
Meanwhile meat production, particularly beef, is a significant contributor to carbon emissions that scientists blame for global warming.