The #25x25interview series, a special editorial project featuring companies that have been in business in Romania for 25 years and powered by Schoenherr si Asociatii SCA, continues today with another insightful interview featuring Irina Siminenco, Corporate Affairs Manager Nestlé România, who walked us through her company’s story which began 25 years ago with only six employees.
- Starting with a bit of historical background, what can you tell us about your company’s entry into Romania back in 1996 and about your industry as a whole back then?
Irina Siminenco: We have a beautiful story in Romania and we grew organically, mixing throughout the years the business aspect together with community growth and building for the future. Nestlé’s story in Romania began 25 years ago when we started our journey with only six employees. In the first stage, our main role was to import breakfast cereals, coffee, baby food, Maggi soup and seasoning. In 2000, Joe became part of our product portfolio, quickly becoming one of the most popular brands. In 2004 we launched NESCAFÉ 3in1. In 2010 we started to get actively involved in community life, being a founding member of the national movement “I live healthy too! – SETS” together with the PRAIS Foundation, the initiator of the program. In 2015 we opened Nespresso Boutique for coffee enthusiasts. Since 2017 we are partners with the Romanian Olympic Foundation, and in 2019 we launched Purina Pet School, a project through which we educate the young generation about responsible pet care. In 2020, we developed a partnership with Starbucks®, and this year we launched the “Growing Together” contest platform help restart the lives of communities large and small, from nutrition to infrastructure and selective collection. We chose Romania because we wanted to improve the lives of Romanians with the help of healthy and accessible food and drink.
- How did your company navigate during all those years in Romania in terms of goals, achievements, challenges and opportunities?
Irina Siminenco: We were curious to see what was our economic and social footprint in these past 25 years, what is the foundation we build on for a healthy and strong future. We developed an impact in economy study for Nestlé, the first of its kind, looking at what these years meant for us, our consumers, employees, our community as well as for Romania.
The numbers speak from themselves. We can talk about turnover, GDP, profits and salaries, investments in community but this is not what truly matters. What matters is the trickle-down effect – that 1 RON in our turnover generates 5.4 RON down the value chain. That 1 RON in value added directly by us generates 6,6 RON in terms of gross added value for the entire economy. And that for every 1 million RON in our turnover we generate 10 jobs in the Romanian economy.
In the last 25 years, Nestlé’s turnover has been over 11 billion lei, only last year reaching 933 million lei. Nestlé Romania generates 5.06 billion lei of turnover in the entire economy.
Nestlé paid taxes and contributions of over 650 million lei in 25 years of activity in Romania, of which 41 million lei only in 2020. The total value of corporate income taxes generated by the company in the last 25 years was approximately 122 million lei. The gross value added generated by Nestlé Romania is estimated at 254 million lei in 2020, being the equivalent of 0.02% of Romania’s GDP in 2020. In the last 25 years, the gross value added was over 2,900 million lei.
In addition to the economic impact, Nestlé has developed over time a series of social initiatives in areas such as: environmental protection – Nestlé for a Waste Free World, towards a healthier life – Nestlé for Healthier Kids Initiative, youth and community development locally – Nestlé Needs Youth.
Under the Nestlé for a Waste Free World umbrella, on our way to zero net emissions, we have introduced 100% recyclable or reusable packaging, developed cleaning, biodiversity and tree planting projects (POPAS) and awareness campaigns on the importance of protecting the environment (Less Waste More Love). Through Nestlé for Healthier Kids we inspire parents and children to adopt a healthy lifestyle and involved 210,000 students, 2 million parents, 6,744 teachers in 346 schools in our projects. We have launched a series of instruments through which parents can guide their children’s portions (Nutriplate) and VeggiePlate which helps adults lead a healthier lifestyle, while also helping the planet by adding more plant based proteins in the framework of a balanced nutrition. Within the Nestlé Needs Youth initiative, in Romania, so far, together with our partners we have managed to involve in our activities over 18,000 young people nationwide, we promote apprenticeships and internships, we do digital trainings and we encourage young people with building culinary skills. Last but not least, we support the Food Bank, the communities in need during the pandemic and we want to contribute to Romania’s recovery from the pandemic by launching the contest platform “Growing together“, which will reward 10 ideas that will help restart the lives of small communities large, from nutrition to infrastructure and selective collection.
- What is the proudest moment for your company in its 25-year history?
Irina Siminenco: We are proud of each year spent together with our employees, partners, suppliers and consumers. We are proud of each project we developed for the community, and of our journey together.
For us, a quarter of a century is measured by the value we bring to the Romanian economy and communities. Turnover, jobs and salary level, contributions to the state budget, they all clearly trace the direct, indirect and induced impact we have on the Romanian economy. Our economic footprint produces effects throughout the entire value chain. Together with our partners, we generate an economic growth that we assess in an economic impact study.
A healthy life begins with a clean world and strong communities, and this is the responsibility of us all. Here at home, in Romania, we help build a life filled with love for children as well as adults, for people as well as the pets that make their lives more beautiful, for both communities and nature.
We would like to reward those who make the change they want to see in their communities. To that end, the latest project that we are proud of consists of ten of our brands financially supporting the first Nestlé aggregator of ideas for Romania, “Crestem impreuna”, open for projects that promote a healthy lifestyle, solutions for parenting and the environment, care for pets and support the development of young people and communities.
Also this year, 25,000 more spruce trees are now growing in Voineasa, a symbolic number that we planted for our 25th anniversary. They follow the 30,000 acacia trees planted last year, the frequent waste collections and the first biodiversity study for the Cozia National Park supported by Nestlé, all within a project dear to us: Popas.
All these are reason for us to be proud and to continue to grow together with the local communities.
- Moving into the present, how would you describe your company’s role in the current social and economic context?
Irina Siminenco: We are the Good Food, Good Life company and we aim to push the boundaries of what our products and services can do to better support individuals and families, communities and the planet. Our 36 commitments support this, guiding our actions and keeping us moving toward a better future for all.
Through our three ambitions, we are unlocking the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come.
For individuals and families, our 2030 ambition is to help 50 million children lead healthier lives. Here in Romania we develop educational programs.
For our communities, our 2030 ambition is to improve 30 million livelihoods in communities directly connected to our business activities.
For the planet, our 2030 ambition is to strive for zero environmental impact in our operations and we do this by changing our packages, by caring for water, by our 1.5 degree pledge, by tackling plastic pollution, by regeneration agriculture.
- No one has a crystal ball, so we won’t ask about the next 25 years. But looking into the future, how do you see the road to 2030 for both your company and the industry you represent
Irina Siminenco: Nestlé aims to double its activity in Romania in the next 5-10 years, both through organic growth, through the mix of products offered on the market, and through potential mergers and acquisitions.
This could create more than 170 new jobs in the coming years, reaching an average of 661 employees,
over 1,800 million lei in company turnover, 7,500 million lei in cumulated turnover, and over 110 million lei in taxes paid to the state budget (except for the contributions borne by employees related to salaries).
We are looking forward to spending the next 25 year together, growing the Romanian society!