The Business Year

Paolo Fagnoni

PORTUGAL - Agriculture

Value Creation

CEO, Nestlé Portugal


Paolo Fagnoni joined the Nestlé Group in 1991, beginning with roles in marketing and sales in several business units and then taking the lead in the petcare business at Nestlé Purina Italy in 2000. After 12 years in Italy, he was appointed Regional Director for Germany and Austria in 2003. Two years later, he was given responsibilities for Nestlé’s Petcare business in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. In 2008, Fagnoni assumed the role of Business Executive Manager of Nestlé’s Culinary Food business before becoming Regional & Category Manager for Nestlé EMENA Zone at Nestlé’s headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland. Since January 2018, Fagnoni is CEO of Nestlé Portugal, managing a portfolio of more than 90 brands.

Putting its stakeholders' interests, especially those of its consumers, at the center has enabled Nestlé to become the biggest player in Portugal's FCMG sector and retain invaluable human talent in the increasingly sought-after market.

Can you give us an overview of the evolution of Nestlé Portugal?

The evolution of Nestlé Portugal is in a certain sense similar to the growth and evolution of Nestlé as a global company. Nestlé started in Portugal with a dairy business in 1923, and from there, the company evolved organically and through acquisitions, launches, and new categories to become the multi-category, multinational multi-brand company it is today. Nestlé has developed several local brands and products to answer the Portuguese consumers’ needs. These include brands and products that became local jewels like Cerelac, Nestum, Mokambo, and Buondi, together with international products such as Nespresso, Nestlé Purina, and Nestlé Health Science. Food is a significant part of our portfolio and history, though we are also keen on the dimensions of health and wellness.

Where do you see opportunities for the population to become healthier?

We want to enhance the quality of life and contribute to a better future. Becoming healthier is a broad ambition because it is multifactorial; it is related to the food you eat but also to your lifestyle. Nestlé produces food and beverages that aim to improve the quality of life of individuals and their families. Moreover, we constantly strive to provide consumers with the best nutritional solutions, choosing the best ingredients, applying the latest scientific knowledge to the formulation, and providing solutions that are convenient to suit the different needs of each consumer according to age, physical condition, personal taste, and lifestyle. Reducing sugar is one of the areas we are active in across all categories; in Portugal specifically, we have been working extensively on significantly reducing the amount of sugar across our portfolio. Between 2013 and 2017, Nestlé reduced 2,750 tons of sugar from its products, equivalent to 11 billion calories. Similarly, we have reduced salt and saturated fat and developed a gluten-free product range as well as a bio/natural range of products across categories.

How do you contribute to the social development of healthier foods?

Being the most relevant food company, it is our duty to inspire people, share our knowledge in nutrition, health and wellness, and lead discussions about food. Since 1999, we have been working together with the Ministry of Education to enable teachers from pre and elementary schools to teach basic nutrition concepts to students. Nestlé was also a pioneer in developing and introducing new labeling schemes aimed to provide consumers with better nutritional information that help them make informed choices. Another aspect are the partnerships we have been developing with our clients to broadly spread educational messages to the consumers about balanced diets; these partnerships are fundamental as Nestlé alone does not have the means to solely impact its millions of consumers. Nestlé is highly active in supporting government efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods, advocating for the improvement of nutritional profile of products and for the establishment of high standards across the food industry.

How would you rate the level of human talent in your sector, and what are your strategies to retain the best talent?

Portugal is increasingly becoming an active market and as a result, there is tremendous competition in terms of recruiting talent. At Nestlé Portugal, we have a low level of turnover as compared to other countries. Working at Nestlé is the opportunity to drive the market growth and be part of a company that provides state-of-the-art nutrition and takes good care of Portuguese consumers’ preferences and nutrition needs. Our people will drive the change and help shape the future by participating in innovative programs such as “Fora da Casca,” developed in partnership with Nova Business School. At Nestlé, people can enjoy a digital environment and a flexible way of work that allows a better work/life balance as well as other benefits like educational support, medical assistance, and health and wellness guidance, among others.



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