Coffee with respect: Nestle aims to maximise Malaysian sector potential via NESCAFE sustainability strategy
The NESCAFE Grown Respectfully strategy is an international one focusing on major coffee producer markets that grow the coffee beans Nestle uses to make its coffee products, such as India and Vietnam.
Malaysia is a much smaller coffee producer by comparison, but the firm believes that there is much more potential to be discovered and developed on the domestic front here, and is investing in advancing the industry to maximise this potential.
“[Malaysia] is seated within the global coffee belt [but] produces a relatively small amount of coffee crops compared to neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam,” Nestle Malaysia Coffee Business Unit Business Executive Officer Raef Labaki told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“So through the NESCAFE Grown Respectfully programme, we aim to revive the local coffee sector over the long-term by working with local farmers [as this programme] provides the coffee farmers with various training and technical guidance.
“[This is aimed] to increase their yields of high-quality coffee beans, which subsequently serves to enhance their livelihoods, [eventually] cultivating a green coffee ecosystem.”
The coffee belt refers to equatorial regions between 25 degrees north and 30 degress south of the equator, where the climate and environment is most suitable for coffee cultivation.
The Grown Respectfully strategy has also culminated in the development of various homegrown coffee variants – for Malaysia, this has been the NESCAFE Classic Kopi Kedah, featuring 100% locally grown coffee beans from the state of Kedah.
“We have just launched a new edition of NESCAFÉ Classic Kopi Kedah that showcases Malaysia’s local heritage with the traditional art of handcrafted weaving or ‘anyaman’ (weaving motifs) featured on the tin packaging,” he added.
“The tin packaging also displays key milestones achieved through NESCAFÉ Grown Respectfully and puts the spotlight on one of the programme’s local coffee farmers.”
Some of the programme’s key milestones that have been achieved since it was first established in 2019 include the successful training/upgrading of 270 local farmers, the distribution of some 270,000 coffee seedlings and the expansion of NESCAFE’s own coffee farms to 150 acres.
Although Kedah is currently still the only Malaysian state out of all 14 states in the country to have its own localised coffee product, the programme is now moving to replicate this success in more localities such as the state of Kelantan.
“We recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South Kelantan Development Authority (KESEDAR) to expand our NESCAFÉ Grown Respectfully programme to Gua Musang, Kelantan,” Labaki said.
“[It will take time and effort], but will be a great achievement in future if we are able to have different local variants available by state.”
Different tastes, different innovations
Regardless of which state the coffee beans come from, the firm has put a strong emphasis on ensuring that its new product innovations remain appealing to local consumers, moving away from any ‘one-size-fits-all’ concept.
“Malaysians generally trend towards three types of coffee products, namely coffee powder, mixes and Ready-to-Drink (RTD), so we know these formats are the more easily-accepted formats by mass consumers,” he added.
“That said, we also offer a wide range of coffee innovation formats such as capsules, machines and drip-over amongst others [as] each format has its own target audience and there are a great deal of innovations we can create as a coffee brand.”
Case in point has been Nestle’s recent launching of RTD Starbucks products in Malaysia, enabling consumers to pick up Frappucinos and Doubleshots at convenience stores or supermarkets, a long shot from the regular Starbucks experience and premium pricing.
“[We are well aware that] innovation is key and we constantly innovate to stay relevant and on top of our game - A good case in point is the recent launch of our Starbucks RTD range for Malaysians from all walks of life,” Labaki added.
“This coffee range will be available in Malaysia across hypermarkets and supermarkets, convenience stores, petromarts, as well as e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee; [as well as] in Singapore at selected retailers and e-commerce platforms.”