— Chan: Shared value is about creating positive impact to society, and this is something Nestlé, and other big multinationals, do well. There's a dilemma, however, when you have companies that might be creating positive impact, but at the same time creating significant negative effects on society through their businesses or products. If you try to address this, often the response is, "If we change, our competitors will benefit and we'll suffer!" So how do you strike the balance there? Do you still consider it shared value in this case?
— Bulcke: Look, it's true; you cannot hide behind your finger. If you look at Nestlé, well, we do make products with calories. Part of the enjoyment of having an ice cream, for instance, is linked with sweetness. We are part of a society that has a problem with obesity, and we are an actor that provides calories. So, we have to assume a responsibility.
Although obesity is a societal problem, and not going to be solved just by reducingsugar in Nestlé's ice creams, it doesn't mean we can say, "We're not changing, society has to." We have to do our part. At Nestlé we call it "shaping our own reality as part of the solution."
We reformulate thousands of products every year to reduce [sugar content]. We also invest in nutritional education, because it is the best solution to obesity – having consumers who are aware, and can make nutritional decisions for themselves. Transparency is also vital; nowadays, technology can offer consumers greater access to product details, and you need to be open to that.
It's our obligation to shape our reality, yet at the same time be part of the societal discussion. [Obesity is] a huge societal problem, and when we have a problem, we want to have one culprit to blame, but in reality it's more complex than that. So, being part of that discussion is important.