Blog: Dean BestWhen CSR and the need for new business meet

Dean Best | 23 August 2007

A postcard from southern Sweden where just-food is visiting packaging giant Tetra Pak:

Tetra Pak is arguably one of the most iconic names in the food and beverage industry. From its origins in the early 20th century, Tetra Pak has grown to become synonymous with innovation in food processing and packaging.

In the early part of this century, however, with sales maturing in its traditional markets, Tetra Pak is seeing its most significant growth coming from emerging markets.

Operating in such under-developed markets generates myriad social and economic challenges but, for those companies who succeed, there is the promise of vast rewards in the future.

And it’s in markets like Kenya, China and Thailand that Tetra Pak is looking to marry its corporate and social responsibility obligations with its ability to lay the foundations for future growth for the company.

Today (23 August), the company spoke out about its initiatives in the developing world. The company has, for example, invested millions of pounds in setting up school milk programmes in Kenya and Thailand in an attempt to improve child nutrition.

Initiatives like this are part of Tetra Pak’s commitment to work towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which strive to reduce poverty and improve the living standards of millions of people in the developing world.

Tetra Pak’s actions are laudable. The company’s investment in school milk programmes is helping to cut the dependence of some countries on food imports; local agricultural sectors are being developed; and kids are getting healthier. In Nigeria, used milk cartons are even being used as roof tiles.

Nevertheless, underlying all this is the development of future markets for the company. Such initiatives have created a “milk-drinking generation in Kenya”, said Ulla Holm, global director of Tetra Pak’s Food for Development programme. “It’s a way of developing business in developing markets.”

For a company whose very origins are based in innovation, Tetra Pak seems to have found an inventive way of meeting the needs of consumers in developing countries while creating new markets for its famous packaging.


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