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Frozen foods and ice cream products make up 10% of annual Nestle turnover.

Frozen Foods and Ice Cream Products Make Up 10% of Annual Nestle Turnover

This year Nestle celebrates its 125th anniversary, having begun in business during 1866 by producing two infant nutrition products in Europe's first condensed milk plant. By 1900 it had expanded to 15 factories. Today the Vevey, Switzerland-headquartered powerhouse operates 423 plants worldwide, making it the world's largest food concern.

In an enlightening talk with Didier Laurent, the enterprising marketing manager of the company's Findus brand, Quick Frozen Foods International magazine was told that frozen food and ice cream account for 10% of total Nestle turnover.

Recently, Findus returned to Germany after a lapse of many years. Other frozen food activities have been initiated in Greece and Portugal. And of course the USA market has been widely supplied by its Stouffer and Carnation units. The former, based in Solon, Ohio, has performed extraordinarily over the years. The Lean Cuisine range has done so well that its low calorie concept has been emulated by many rivals. Indeed, Nestle reports that its light frozen specialities are under increasing attack from "some very lively competition."

A Quality Label

In Europe especially, the Findus name is establishing itself more firmly as a brand for prepared foods and snacks. "Our goal has always been to provide quality," explained Mr. Laurent. "And we focus on what we are good at in a global approach."

A line of ready-to-eat frozen Italian dishes has been introduced under the Buitoni label in France, Belgium and the UK. This range includes pasta-based entrees and pizzas. Meanwhile, the growth of Nestle ice cream and specialities continue apace. At the end of 1990 an agreement was concluded for the acquisition of the Alco Drumsticks business in the USA.

Last year saw some 162 million francs invested in upgrading frozen food and ice cream facilities. In France a factory for fish-based dishes was expanded at Boulogne-sur-Mer, and ice cream production was streamlined at Beauvais. Additional lines for frozen ready dishes and prepared foods were installed in Grimsby in the UK, while in the USA frozen food capacity was enlarged in Springville.

Progress, however, has been slow on the frozen front in Japan, reported Mr. Laurent. The main reason cited for less demand for convenience foods was that married women there tend not to work outside the home as much as those in other industrialized countries. Also, there is little room in their relatively small kitchen space for keeping stocks of QFF on hand.

While Findus has good global distribution, two major European markets in which it is not represented are Austria and Holland. In Italy the brand is marketed by Unilever.

Looking ahead, frozen food sales are expected to advance along with the growth of microwave oven ownership. About 20% of all European households (compared with 80% in the USA) now have the appliances broken out in selected countries as follows: UK, 45%; Finland, 55%; France, 25%; Germany, 25%; Switzerland, 15%; Spain, 5%.

Personal Comments

It was a pleasure for this writer to again visit Nestle's attractive office buildings on beautiful Lake Geneva. My first call there was made some 30 years ago when I met the late Lars Anderfelt, then head of Findus. Mr. Anderfelt was very instrumental in promoting the frozen foods industry throughout Europe. I also met Helmut Maucher, who has advanced from frozen food manager to the paramount poisition of chairman and chief executive officer of Nestle. I have thus watched Findus grow from its small start in Sweden almost three decades ago to achieve global leadership in many product lines.

PHOTO : Findus has come a long way from the launch of one of its first frozen food products, Petits Pois in Sweden during the early 1940s. Today the label is found worldwide as seen by the representative packs above.
COPYRIGHT 1991 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Nestle S.A.
Author:Williams, E.W.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Article Type:directory
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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Next Article:China's long refrigeration wish list reflects deep need for much equipment.

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