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Dutch Lady and Nutrition Mission

Hoàng Kim Monday | 04/01/2024 10:00

Corine Tap, president of FrieslandCampina Asia.

Vietnam has set the right ambition and actions for its nutrition strategy and vision. The most important task now is to quickly implement it on a larger scale for greater impact.

As president of FrieslandCampina Asia, Corine Tap has visited Vietnam often in the last two years. This time, apart from regular business purposes, she is here to attend a CEO roundtable held on the occasion of a Dutch trade mission to Vietnam. This visit not only demonstrates the increasingly strengthened bilateral relationship between Vietnam and the Netherlands, but also shows FrieslandCampina’s strong commitments to Vietnam, where they were among the first foreign investors in the 1990s. Corine has shared with us of the company’s mission as a world-leading nutrition company through its many brands familiar with Vietnamese consumers including Dutch Lady, Yomost, Friso, and Fristi. 

What do you think are the key nutritional challenges of Vietnam? 

Vietnam has considered Food Security, defined as accessibility and affordability of food, a national priority for decades, resulting in greatly increased food availability and affordability, and contributing to Vietnam’s overall progress in improving its population’s health and well-being. However, ‘Stunting’ or chronic malnutrition remains a key concern, as Viet Nam is among 34 countries globally facing the highest burden. It is home to 1.8 million children under-5 who suffer from the condition and are at risk of permanent physical and brain damage. It shows that Vietnam’s nutritional security - access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food that enables people to live a healthy life - has not benefitted the country equally. 

The recently completed South East Asia Nutrition Survey (SEANUTS II), a study of nearly 14,000 children, aged six months to 12 years that we conducted in collaboration with universities and institutions in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam highlights an important issue known as the ‘Triple Burden’ of Malnutrition. This is the coexistence of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight/obesity.  

The SEANUTS II study shows that Stunting & Anemia affect 10% & 24% of children (respectively). Overweight & Obesity affect over 30% of children aged 7-12 years. Calcium & Vitamin D deficiency in over 70% of children aged 0.5-12 years in Vietnam. This Triple Burden, as a clear evidence of nutritional insecurity, makes it a matter of great importance to fill nutritional gaps with proper nutrition interventions and nutrition.  

 

What, in your opinion, are the solutions that both Government and businesses should and can provide to improve nutritional security? 

In National Nutrition Strategy 2020-2030 and Vision 2045,  Vietnam set the ambition that by 2045 every citizen will achieve their optimal nutritional security, and all nutrition-related non-communicable diseases are under total control.  

To improve nutritional security, I think policy makers and businesses should focus on the following two critical tasks: Accessibility & availability of affordable nutritious products and A whole-of-society approach requiring stronger collaboration among governments, NGOs, businesses and the society,  to educate the consuming public about the “right nutrition” through nutritional education programs. As I understand, these angles are also in alignment with the Key Tasks that the above-mentioned Vietnam’s National Nutrition Strategy 2020-2030 has urged relevant government agencies to implement, namely: (1) Enhance nutrition education and communication, including among school children; (2) Enhance inter-agency collaboration for better results and great impacts; And (3) Enhance nutrition interventions including improving quality of meals, ensuring food security and nutritional security. 

In that context, what is the mission that a world’s leading nutrition company like Frieslandcampina has in Vietnam? 

With our 150 years heritage and strong presence in over 100 markets in the world, we aspire to help improve Vietnam’s nutritional security through providing best quality nutrition accessible to and affordable for every Vietnamese. We have been committed to this mission from our Day 1 in Vietnam. 

 

And what have FrieslandCampina in Vietnam done and can do to help in this regard? 

To achieve this goal, we have been focusing on the followings: First, technical & scientific collaboration with relevant Vietnamese agencies in the area of dairy and nutrition and SEANUTS study that I mentioned earlier is an example of this endeavor.  

Second, technical assistance to produce best quality milk: our Dairy Development program established since 1990s in Vietnam have worked and engaged with over 2,500 dairy farms across the countries, and provided technical training and assistance for an average of more than 10.000 farm heads per year. This investment not only helps local dairy farms produce better milk quality, as good as our global Dutch quality standards, but also contributes to their higher income and better livelihood. 

Third, real nutrition accessible to and affordable for every Vietnamese: As mentioned above, the triple nutrition burdens make it a matter of great importance to fill nutritional gaps for Vietnamese generations and dairy is a part of solution. We proudly serving Vietnamese consumers for over 27 years, we commit to offering a wide range of choices of real nutrition, in which the new Dutch Lady 180ml pack offers high value of nutrition at most affordable price, and making it accessible for every Vietnamese walk of life.  

Last but not least, nutritional education: under the strategic partnership with Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training, we have developed a digital curriculum on nutrition education, which equips millions of primary students with the fundamental understanding about nutrition and the importance of real milk. We also invest behind mass communication to raise awareness among Vietnamese moms on the benefits of real nutrition so as to help them develop good nutrition consumption habits, needed for the their kids’ long-term development.  

What difficulties do you foresee during such a journey?  

Vietnam has set the right ambition and actions for its nutrition strategy and vision. The most important task now is to quickly implement it on a larger scale for greater impact. That will require all relevant stakeholders in Vietnam – the Government, nutrition businesses, and communities - to accelerate collaboration in this endeavor so that Vietnamese people, especially younger ones, can have access to good quality nutrition needed for physical and mental development for generations to come. 

As a CEO with busy schedules and long flights, how do you maintain a balanced nutrition regime?  

I love my job, but I am also a mother of 4. Therefore, a work and life balance is very important to me. I have no special nutrition secrets. As I work for a nutrition and dairy company, milk is something I can’t do without. I also love cheese, which is a good source of protein for maintaining your muscle mass. Also, regular exercise for 1-2 hours helps as well. I aim for a balanced nutrition and exercise lifestyle, in harmony with my work schedule, as it is good for my physical and mental wellbeing. 

Thank you very much.

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