Valuing quality and sustainability

Sumeet Mathur, Managing Director, FrieslandCampina Middle East
Sumeet Mathur, Managing Director, FrieslandCampina Middle East

FrieslandCampina, as a brand, is ingrained in the UAE's DNA with its popular products such as the Rainbow Milk. How did the Dutch company come so far? Excerpts from an interview with Sumeet Mathur, Managing Director, FrieslandCampina Middle East

By Rhonita Patnaik

Published: Tue 27 Apr 2021, 9:34 AM

Last updated: Tue 27 Apr 2021, 12:11 PM

A unique purpose

Our purpose is guided by three important pillars: better nutrition for the world, a good living for our farmers, now and for generations to come. These form our guiding compass and the foundation of our strategy. We contribute to nutrition and food security for millions of people all over the world; our member dairy farmers maintain healthy farming operations, and we assume responsibility for maintaining the natural living environment.

FrieslandCampina has a long history and exists in a cooperative tradition. We rely on cooperation and work together with partners, governments, and customers for the purpose of collectively adding value. A farming cooperative is community-orientated and can only thrive with a focus on the long term. That is why we are future-focused and committed to our consumers, our customers, our farmers. As such, everything we do at FrieslandCampina is guided by our purpose: nourishing by nature.

An established presence in UAE as a dairy provider

FrieslandCampina has been in the UAE for more than 65 years and we are proud to have been a part of the visionary growth of such a progressive and future-forward nation.

As the UAE's population continues to grow and dairy consumption increases, there are many opportunities for companies to support this demand and development in a sustainable way. We believe that working together with governments and customers will enable us to keep developing new standards for a dairy sector that over the long term offers better nutrition in balance with nature to the wider public throughout the world.

Over recent years and especially during the pandemic, we've seen evolving and changing consumer habits, which also presents opportunities for our industry. For example, last year, we saw consumers becoming more health-conscious and reaching more readily for organic products.  As a result, we launched our newest product offering Campina Organic - a new organic milk. Additionally, we saw an increase in people cooking at home.  That's why we started offering new packages and sizes of Frico cheese, while also launching healthy recipes that could be used with Rainbow Milk. 

Fast-moving SKUs in the UAE and the GCC regions 

FrieslandCampina has been known in the UAE for Rainbow Milk in its evaporated format. Rainbow Milk reached UAE shores in 1955, even before the UAE was formed, and has been a household brand since then.

We also have Frico cheese available in the UAE market. Frico cheese incorporates more than a century of Dutch cheese makers experience, made from 100 per cent pure cow's milk from cattle that has grazed on the green meadows of the Dutch countryside. It is concentrated nutrition - we use 10 litres of high-quality milk to produce 1 kg of Frico cheese.

Beating its competition

We have been in the region for more than 65 years and have become ingrained in the culture of the UAE. For example, we know that Rainbow Milk is a popular ingredient used in the famous karak - a favourite traditional tea made with spices and milk loved by both Arabs and Asians.

Additionally, it is our purpose and strategy. We care and value everyone along our supply chain, from the farmer to the consumer. Our value lies in producing good and healthy dairy products and FrieslandCampina has a unique grass-to-glass proposition for our customers and consumers.

Vital role in the renewable energy revolution

In the Netherlands, our farms and factories count on renewable energy to reduce the negative impact on nature, which took a lot of time, efforts and investment.

We are trying to share that knowledge with UAE, leveraging on our Dutch origin, so we joined hands with The Dutch Sustainability Group - a group of Dutch companies operating in the UAE with one objective; to bring Dutch sustainability knowledge to the region and help the UAE to achieve its sustainability ambitious agenda.

We are planning a series of knowledge-sharing webinars between experts in the Netherlands and main stakeholders in the UAE, such as Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Ministry of Energy and Industry and Ministry of Food Security.

Sustainable initiatives from 'grass to glass'

At FrieslandCampina, we want to 'lead with sustainability' by providing healthy and sustainable nutrition to all people, at all ages, now and for generations to come. To us, sustainability entails having a positive impact on farmers, societies and on our planet. It is about realising a better living for farmers, producing in balance with nature and nourishing the world's growing population with better and affordable nutrition. To make our work and that of farmers around the world more sustainable, to work with clean energy and to create a sustainable future, we align ourselves to the SDGs established by the United Nations to our priority work.

In the past decade, we have worked on a set of goals to build a better future and have achieved a lot both as a company and as a cooperative.

In the Netherlands, member dairy farmers have tremendous influence on the biodiversity of their farm and in surrounding nature reserves. They even have influence on areas further away, for example, through the purchase of feed. To measure this influence, we created the Biodiversity Monitor, which uses key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure a dairy farm's influence on diversity. The KPIs are greenhouse gas emission, soil nitrogen balance, ammonia emission, share of protein produced by own land, share of permanent grassland and share of nature and landscape management. The monitor is aligned with the guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-LEAP).

Our sustainability strategy also focuses on better packaging by moving into 100 per cent recyclable materials in the coming few years, needless to say, that we always aim for responsible resourcing of materials that always take environmental impact into consideration.

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