Earlier this year, John Carmichael became the president and CEO of Nestle Canada. As market head for Canada, he is accountable for the financial performance of the ice cream, foods, coffee and beverages and confectionery businesses in Canada. He also has executive responsibility for in-market activities for Nestle Professional, Nestle Purina PetCare, Nespresso, Nestle Health Science and Nestle Nutrition.
Carmichael began his career with Nestle USA in 1995 in the PetCare division and moved through progressively senior positions across the U.S.A. in marketing and sales. In 2011, he relocated to Switzerland as deputy for North America for Nestle S.A., where he served as the primary conduit for the Nestle businesses in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and led initiatives on pet and frozen foods, coffees, and ice creams. We asked him about his plans for Nestle Canada and how’s life in Canada.
What are your priorities for Nestle Canada?
JM: In 2020 and into 2021, we have been focused on COVID-19 priorities; the safety of our people, business continuity and supporting our communities with donations of over $7 millions worth of food and beverage products. We have a strong business in Canada, and we have seen over the last year-and-a-half how important our products are to Canadians. As the president & CEO of Nestle Canada, I will continue to build on our strengths.
When I think of sustainability, circularity and plant-based, for example, I don’t believe them to be mutually exclusive areas of focus because they all fit under the sustainability umbrella.
Today’s consumers are increasingly concerned about sustainability. They want to know that businesses are treating the planet well and taking care of it for the next generation. Nestle, with a global footprint and vast supply chains, takes the threat climate change poses seriously for ourselves and to prosper in the long term.
Nestle is maintaining growth while making major investments in climate initiatives, including new innovations in sustainable packaging, advocating for regenerative agriculture practices and setting carbon neutrality targets for our brands. It’s being transparent in our work and staying committed to responsible sourcing, seeking greenhouse-gas neutrality in our facilities and operations, introducing more sustainable food supply systems and driving change in our communities with better recycling infrastructure.
Bold and meaningful action in this space can lead to improved market share and growth. Doing right by the planet will ultimately mean that Nestle will be serving our consumers, suppliers, communities, and the Earth itself. With Nestle’s size, scale and innovation mindset, we will reduce our footprint, and I am proud to be a part of driving this aggressive agenda.
In your view, what are the major food trends this year?
JM: In general, people are becoming more health and wellness conscious and COVID has seen a renewed emphasis on balance. A few food trends that I’m paying attention include:
Plant-based or flexitarian: Canadians are reducing or restricting meat for many factors, including environmental, health or even budgetary. We’re incorporating this trend at Nestle with non-dairy products.
All natural: Canadians are craving food and drink with simple, clean ingredients, free of artificial colours or flavours. At Nestle, we recently introduced a newly updated Lean Cuisine line-up that contains no artificial colours or flavours, and 100 per cent of our Nesquik portfolio contains no artificial colours.
Transparency in the supply chain: Canadians care about how their products are produced and are increasingly asking for product traceability and transparency. I am proud of our efforts to source responsibly. Our coffee and confectionery products, for example, are guided by our Nescafe Plan and Cocoa Plan, where we are supporting positive environmental and economic impacts for farmers. We are also partnering with suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of our most emissions-intensive ingredients and have set carbon neutrality targets for popular brands like Perrier, San Pellegrino and Kit Kat.
More sustainable packaging options: We are committed to developing packaging with a smaller environmental impact. We are on a journey and by the end of this year, 90 per cent of our packaging will be recyclable or reusable. Looking ahead by 2025, we aim to ensure 100 per cent of our packaging is recyclable or reusable, and in the same period, we will reduce our use of ‘virgin’ (newly made) plastic by one-third.
Lastly, how is life in Canada?
JM: Before joining Nestle Canada, I was president of the foods division at Nestle USA, based out of Ohio. I have been in Canada now for almost six months, and feel right at home! While moving to a new country in the midst of COVID is not without its challenges, the team has been incredibly welcoming and I have been loving every minute of getting to know them all—virtually, of course!
I am a big believer that it is the people who make a company successful and I have such respect and appreciation for the Canadian team. Like everyone, they have been operating under exceptional circumstances, yet their tenacity, dedication and passion is second to none and I am in awe of everything they have accomplished.
One of the things I immediately noticed is how strong the culture is at Nestle Canada. To me, a strong and healthy culture creates a safe place where people can thrive as their authentic selves. I am proud of the diversity we each bring to make Nestle a better place, and our continued focus on doing more and doing better.
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