Philippine Daily Inquirer
Its origins may be Swiss and its current head honcho may be British, but Nestle Philippines Inc. is as Filipino as a local company can get.
In a recent interview, Nestle Philippines chair and chief executive John Martin Miller shares how the company has survived 100 years of doing business in the country, and how much it is looking forward to spending another 100 years, or more, here.
“We believe very strongly in the Philippines. It has a good talent pool and a lot of resources. It’s a good market for (fast moving consumer goods). We have what we call key markets, and the Philippines is one of them,” he says.
As proof of its commitment to the country, the company has invested a fresh P4.8 billion to put up a coffee creamer manufacturing facility in Tanauan, Batangas, which will enable Nestle Philippines to source all of its Coffee Mate locally instead of importing from Thailand.
“Our vision for the new P4.8-billion coffee creamer facility is to make it one of the most important manufacturing sites in the world. We have a total of more than 500 worldwide,” he relates.
“We have room to expand. We’re hoping to put a new coffee plant on that site, where we can make coffee mixes. Those are very popular here in the Philippines,” he adds.
In the coming years, he says Nestle hopes to “re-energize the agriculture sector, especially coffee, which is the second largest market we compete in.”
Investments will be made in “knowledge transfer,” where Nestle Philippines will provide coffee farmers with seedlings for the “ideal crop,” to encourage them to go back to coffee farming, he says.
Good people, supportive gov’t
John Martin Miller
Expanding its business in the Philippines is just one way of giving back to the country that has nurtured it and has provided it with a wide base of loyal customers over the past 100 years.
Miller attributes much of the company’s success to the Filipinos working at Nestle Philippines’ four plants in Lipa, Pulilan, Cabuyao, and Cagayan de Oro, as well as its predominantly Filipino management team.
“As a business, we’re the masters of our destiny. Our success here is a result of the hard work of our people here,” he relates.
Apart from the people, government support has also been instrumental to the company’s success in the country, he adds. Being a 100-year-old company, Nestle Philippines has gone through almost all presidents in the country’s history. So far, government policies have been fair enough and good enough to prompt the constant flow of investments into the country.
The Aquino administration’s firm stance against corruption and its crusade against poverty will serve as further impetus to continue Nestle’s growth in the Philippines.
“We’re very encouraged by the policies of the new government. We’re seeing all of the things that we’d like to see. This government has a strong emphasis on poverty alleviation, on fighting corruption. The business community applauds these efforts. The (public-private partnership) program is also there to upgrade infrastructure,” he relates. “We understand that these things don’t happen overnight. The direction (that the government is taking now) is very encouraging.”
“We welcome greater transparency. As a global company, we uphold good corporate governance. We want to see more of that. We want to see corruption stamped out,” he adds.
Nestlé Tanauan Factory
Even with past administrations, he says Nestle has always viewed the Philippines as a country that offers an environment conducive for doing business. It is a wonder not more companies are investing here.
“The Philippines has an investment-friendly environment. Why don’t more people invest here?” he says. “I’ve worked in other countries more volatile than the Philippines. The problem is more of perception. A lot of what is happening now—for example, corruption —is not unique to the Philippines,” he relates.
He relates that this year, as Nestle celebrates its 100th year in the country, it is a good time to reflect on how the company has gone through numerous peaks and valleys here, as well as what it has achieved in terms of its business and also in terms of its contribution to Philippine society.
As one of the largest producers of such staples as milk and coffee, he says Nestle has become more than a brand for many Filipinos. For the company’s loyal consumers, Nestle has become a way of life.
“It’s an auspicious time for us to be in the company, as we can reflect on past achievements. We’re one of the larger (fast moving consumer goods) businesses in the Philippines, but it’s not just about the size, but about our contribution to society,” he explains.
“We’ve increased nutrition health awareness, we’ve helped in nation building, and we’re one of the larger taxpayers in the country. Over the past 100 years, we’ve provided shared value, providing returns to our shareholders and relevant contributions to our stakeholders,” he adds.
Moving forward to the next 100 years, he says Nestle is prepared to make more investments in the Philippines—not just to grow its revenue base but also to provide Filipinos with products that can improve their health and their lives.
“Our 100th anniversary is a good time for us to reflect on these things and the future. It’s not just about what we’ve done in the past, but how we can continue to nourish future generations,” he says.