Company will sell capsules made of paper and a biodegradable polymer that can be used in home composting
Marcelo Melchior — Foto: Claudio Belli/Valor
When asked about what scenario he draws for 2023, the CEO of Nestlé in Brazil, Marcelo Melchior, raises his eyebrows, opens a smile, and says “next year in Brazil is never peaceful. I have been working at Nestlé for 34 years and it is that way. We are confident, though. We have great investments, in many fronts.”
Next year Mr. Melchior will run investments of R$2 billion. In 2022, he had planned to invest R$1.8 billion but will reach December having disbursed R$1.3 billion, due to delays in some construction works. The difference of R$500 million will be spent in 2023.
The company is expanding operations in several areas — from animal feed to coffee. And Mr. Melchior, who spoke to Valor this week alongside Nestlé’s top coffee executive Rachel Muller, is especially excited about Dolce Gusto, the coffee brand that debuted in Brazil in 2009, three years after Nespresso.
The company that invented the market for coffee in aluminum capsules to be used in its machines, and was copied by rivals, chose Brazil to launch its newest business in the coffee market: the sale of capsules made of paper and a biodegradable polymer that can be used in home composting. They break down in the ground in six months and have a watermark on the lid that can be “read” by the coffee maker, adjusting the machine to the type of coffee. This project in Brazil received investments of R$300 million.
The new machines, made in China by Wik, can be activated by the consumer’s cell phone, through an app. This way, Nestlé collects data and knows how the product is being consumed. “We can establish a closer relationship with the consumer,” says Ms. Muller. If the customer used to drink four coffees a day and now drinks one or none, the company can send him a message. The development of the machine and capsules took five years and was done by Nestlé technicians in Switzerland.
The executive notes that the Dolce Gusto Neo project was designed to be an environmentally friendly line, in line with ESG practices. The factory in Montes Claros (Minas Gerais) is the first Nestlé unit in the world to receive neutral environmental impact certification at all stages — it uses only reuse water, does not generate waste for landfills, and neutralizes 100% of its emissions. Women make up 50% of the workforce and some hold leadership positions.
The sale will start slowly, on December 1st, through Nestlé’s website. The marketing campaign will debut on November 20 on social media. “We will not make a massive sale because we do not know the size of the demand yet,” said Mr. Melchior. It takes 90 days for the machines shipped from China to arrive in the country.
Those who want to buy the novelty can sign up for a list on Nestlé’s website. On December 7, a megastore for Dolce Gusto Neo, as the new machine was named, is expected to be inaugurated. Also in December three kiosks are expected to be opened in shopping malls in the city of São Paulo.
This is not a cheap product. The machine, made from recycled plastic and metal, will cost R$899, and each capsule will cost R$2.8. There are 10 flavors of coffee from farms in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo — six of the regular line, two organics, and two of Starbucks brand.
The Minas Gerais plant received new machinery to manufacture the capsules, certified by the non-governmental organization Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The paper and polymer are imported, but Nestlé is already in talks to have local suppliers.
Melchior estimates that exports to other Nestlé units around the world will begin in 2023. His goal now is to map the Brazilian market. The consumer who likes coffee is concerned about the environment and has enough income to afford the machine and the capsules.
The executive says that this new biodegradable line is the future of the capsule system. The new capsule can be used in composting at the consumer’s home — mixed into the soil of a vase, for example, or it can go into the household’s regular organic waste. The paper and biodegradable polymer are gone within six months. The Nespresso line uses aluminum capsules. To recycle, consumers must take their capsules to the brand’s collection points.
Nestlé is not alone in this segment. The Swiss supermarket chain Migros announced two months ago for its CoffeeB coffee machines a biodegradable coffee capsule, covered by an algae-based film, which can also be used in home composting.
In Brazil, Nestlé says it is a pioneer in compostable capsules — made of paper and that can be composted at home, with certification. Other capsules on the Brazilian market “communicate the attribute of being biodegradable, however, they are made of plastic and require industrial composting,” Nestle says in a statement.
The new launch is being seen by the company as a way to get closer to customers — a concern that was put to the test a few weeks ago when Nestlé decreed a recall of Garoto brand chocolates. The sensor of a control equipment had broken on top of the production line and there was suspicion that glass fragments could have contaminated the product. The recall is now over, and the company has received no complaints from consumers.
When asked about what measures had been taken so that the accident would not happen again, Mr. Melchior said: “We are going to change the control and we are not going to use glass.” He was emphatic when affirming that the company is present in 99% of Brazilian homes and that it is concerned with the quality of what it produces. “We cannot disappoint. Otherwise, you buy another brand.”
*By Cynthia Malta, Ana Luiza de Carvalho — São Paulo
Source: Valor International