MIR: To start, could you please explain to us how Ferrero deals with responsibility issues?
Carlo Vassallo: For us, responsibility not only means marketing our products responsibly. It is an overall approach for managing our entire value chain. Today we live in a very complex world, and CSR is our way of handling this complexity. Our strategy deals with sourcing raw materials, like cocoa beans and nuts and with processing them. Finally, it also addresses the way our products are brought onto the market and consumed.
MIR: What would you consider the core elements of your CSR initiatives?
Carlo Vassallo: Our strategy is based on two pillars – “people” and “planet.” And this really is part of the Ferrero DNA. Our founder, Michele Ferrero, was prioritizing social responsibility in his day without talking about it or calling it CSR. At that time nobody talked about CSR, the term was not yet common. Nevertheless, the idea and concept of acting sustainably were naturally put into practice.
MIR: So you have a longer CSR tradition than many other companies. What were Ferrero’s first CSR steps back then?
Carlo Vassallo: Michele Ferrero established the Ferrero Foundation. It mainly provides services to Ferrero retirees, and it was and still is engaged culturally in the Alba area in Italy. Today, the Foundation is also active in our bigger markets, like in Germany.
MIR: And nowadays, how else does Ferrero assume responsibility for people?
Carlo Vassallo: The care for people and the country has been extended to encompass the entire value chain, from employees of Ferrero production plants around the world to the families of people who grow the raw materials, from the care for every single region where we’re doing business to environmental protection on a global scale. There are a lot of activities that are guided by this concept. We have set up Ferrero Social Enterprises in some of the poorest regions of the world. And we take human rights very seriously .When it comes to the pillar “people,” we also offer the global educational program kinder+Sport, involving 21 countries and engaging 3.8 million children. To care for people we have also put into practice a nutritional strategy, ongoing innovation and food safety programs. We have committed ourselves to communicating responsibly with consumers, and we are always watching out for our employees, retirees and the local communities we’re involved with.