“Our Goal Is To Nourish Nigerians with Quality Dairy Nutrition”


Chris Wulff-Caesar, Marketing Director, Frieslandcampina, Sub Sahara Cluster.

FrieslandCampina has been a pioneer in the noble effort of growing a sustainable dairy industry in Nigeria over the years. The organization has always remained at the frontline, partnering with other stakeholders in the backward integration goal that will ensure that Nigerians get adequate protein, vitamins, and essential minerals in their diet. In this interview with Brand Communicator, Chris Wulff-Caesar, Marketing Director, Frieslandcampina Sub Saharan Africa shares exciting developments within the industry, as well as challenges that are concomitant with the receding COVID 19 pandemic. In this chat also, Chris shares steps taken by FrieslandCampina to ensure that her brands remain at the peak, even with stiff competition in the marketplace. Excerpts

Assessment of the dairy market and FMCG post-pandemic era

I don’t know if we can even describe where we are now as post-pandemic, because we’re still in the pandemic. You realize that every country seems to act as if they are okay and then all of a sudden they get a surge. As we’re talking, a few countries in Asia, and the far East are experiencing a heightened wave of this same pandemic. In my view, due to the arrival of vaccines, people are getting more optimistic, but we are not in the post-pandemic era.

The other thing we are noticing is the fact that we’re all very dependent on the health of the global economy. The global economy is not recovering as fast as expected due to the incessant recurrences and waves in large economies. These external pressures are impacting the supply and logistics of most business dependent on these external markets.

The impact in Nigeria is increased cost of doing business and subsequent adjustment in overall market prices. On the consumer side, we have witnessed real income levels go down as food inflation is ahead of an overall inflation; hence we recognize that our consumers are really under pressure. The manufacturer response comes in different ways as we have seen a lot of instances mainly driven by cost saving initiatives on the product and packaging just to enable the consumer manage their current budgets and so on. We have also observed the continuation of the trend from 2020 of consumers looking out for products/services that keep them safe and healthy; remember we are still in a pandemic. Entertainment and travelling seemed to have picked up remarkably but still not to the level that we have known in the past so, we have a mix of what you call recovery and some things that have come to stay with us, probably forever.

Current state of the dairy market within the FMCG
Dairy products contain some of the most important nutrients needed by the body. It has all the essential vitamins and minerals required for the healthy growth and living for everyone in adequate amounts. Per Capita Consumption (PCC) of dairy is much higher in other continents when compared to Africa. Even in Africa, there is a higher PCC in East and Southern Africa than there is in West Africa (albeit growing). In Africa as well, we have a higher birth rate and higher population growth rates which means that we need to continue the drive to get more dairy into the diet of Nigerians and Africa as whole. A sustainable dairy sector will thus be a real growth catalyst for the continent. Firstly, a sustainable dairy sector in Nigeria is an ongoing job for all stakeholders including the government on policy setting. Every major player in the industry has to be a part of it so you would have seen in the news one dairy company after another working with different State and Federal Governments in setting up various forms of backwardly integrated access to fresh milk.

FrieslandCampina WAMCO has been a pioneer in this regard for over a decade. We have an end to end Dairy Development Programme (DDP) that enables us to source local raw milk for our operations. Our Peak Yoghurt, for instance, is made out of locally sourced fresh milk. We are committed to continued creation of a sustainable dairy sector in Nigeria because this drives the realization of our purpose.

Other challenges beyond sourcing for raw material
I don’t think the dairy sector faces challenges that are unique only to dairy except for the ones I have mentioned but in recent times forex availability for key raw materials has been an issue. Our currency the naira has also experienced a fair amount of depreciation, so obviously this has had an impact on our sourcing of imported raw materials. We are in business to generate for everyone in the value chain including our owners, employees, consumers, and customers so we manage these shifts and changes in the market using tools in revenue growth management. As mentioned earlier, I don’t think that our sector is so unique that we have individual challenges facing us. Our challenges are pretty similar to other global FMCG players operating in Nigeria.

Implication of FrieslandCampina WAMCO recent addition to its portfolio on dairy market
We acquired the assets of Nutricima in the 2nd half of 2020. For us, this acquisition ties into our purpose of wanting to nourish Nigerians with quality dairy everyday and everywhere. Operating in a large and diverse country like Nigeria, it is important to have enough dairy solutions to reach the spectrum of consumers that we have. Some of these brands like you said are in different spaces in their life cycle, different stages, and operate in different parts of the country. Some of the acquired brands are stronger in the North whilst others are more prominent in other parts of the country. Our 2 leading brands, PEAK and THREE CROWNS are common household names in most homes but it is important to recognize that NUNU, OLYMPIC, and COAST MILK are also in some of these homes on different occasions. FrieslandCampina WAMCO is well placed to ensure that these brands are always readily available for the consumer to make their choices.

Differentiation For the 3 new brands from others in the FrieslandCampina WAMCO portfolio
Basically, there’s a couple of levels and you can look at whatever ‘P’ in the marketing mix to differentiate this. Peak, for instance, is a brand for all Nigerians, enabling them to reach their ‘peak’. A family brand, that has been around for 60 plus years and Peak has quite a wide range of products, from premium to quite affordable.

Also, we have Three Crowns, with a healthier proposition, targeting mums who are really the gatekeepers of what we buy in the family, and this brand encourages everyone to live a healthier life. We are still doing some work on COAST, NUNU AND OLYMPIC.

When it comes to dairy nutrition, you have to be consistent with what you deliver to the consumer at all times. You can innovate around your brand but what you stand for (purpose) must remain consistent. In building great brands, the first ‘C’ you have to look out for is CONSISTENCY. The 2nd ‘C’ is CREATIVITY; creativity in accessing new frontiers, like we have tried getting Peak into many occasions as e.g. ‘the Pecadomo’ using peak in making eba etc. Finally there is the requirement to be very CLEAR in what you’re promising at all times you cannot be ambiguous in your promise to the consumer.

Three Crowns was introduced in Nigeria over 30 years ago and has been very consistent in making sure mums, the heart of every home are healthy always. This proposition is backed functionally as Three Crowns is a low cholesterol milk and endorsed by the Nigeria Heart Foundation. On tapping into the emotions of consumers, it have been creatively consistent in running activities like Three Crowns Mum of The Year program.

Any other brand that we may acquire will look at what Peak and Three Crowns have done over the years and continue to do. It is both a science and art I must say. A lot of what consumers see and experience is the art just like I have mentioned above. The science side is what keeps the brand alive everyday, it is the translation of data into insights that become the bedrock of decisions around the brand.

Innovative works done by FrieslandCampina WAMCO flagship brands for world milk day
World Milk Day (WMD) is a very important date in the ‘’dairy’’ diary as you’re aware. This was my big surprise when I moved from the beer industry to dairy, I realized WMD was like the big OSCAR night where you dress up in your best to show the world. World Milk Day is the 1st of June and it is a day set aside globally to celebrate and espouse the benefits of milk and dairy, so it is a big deal for the dairy industry.

Over the last 3 years or so, we always expanded the focus from just a day to either a weeklong celebration because we believe one day is too fleeting to actually share the message of the importance of dairy. Three years ago, we introduced the NATIONAL BREAKFAST WEEK which always culminates on World Milk Day. During this week, we have series of diverse activities (under our BREAKFAST theme) every day leading up to the World Milk Day.

Each brand has a set of activities that is in line with the BIG IDEA of the brand’s campaign. For example, there will be a focused session on nutrition reminding all of us on the importance of dairy in our diet. We do this on TV, Radio and PR. We also spent a lot of time, this year especially, in the digital space trying to educate on different aspects of dairy but also showcasing that dairy can be fun by highlighting unique meals and breakfast solutions. Activities continue all the way till the end of the week leading us then to World Milk Day where we have a lot of engagements with consumers, and we even go as far as spending a day with our dairy farmers in various parts of the country where we collect milk.

In all, we don’t necessarily celebrate just the day, we integrate it with our overall agenda and give our consumers to have milk top of mind for at least a week.

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