Last June I was invited by Ferrero to visit their Alba factory and to discover some of their corporate social responsibility programs and visit the Milan Expo. I have already told you a bit on the Expo, now let me give you some more information about the rest of the trip to Alba.
First of all the visit of the factory was very interesting. I kind of felt like Charlie from the famous Roald Dahl novel.
We were guided by Signor Grasso, the retired plant manager of the Arlon factory in Belgium (where the Kinder Surprise eggs are produced). He has worked for 35 years for the Ferrero group and was a very skilled and ‘sympatico’ guide.
Amazing to hear what amount of resources they use on a daily basis 500 tons of sugar, 125 tons of hazelnuts, 150 tons of milk just to name a few of them.
The first thing that hit me when we entered the Ferrero compound was the smell of chocolate in the air. I must admit that after my visit to the factory and all the tasting I was kind of fed up with chocolate.
When I was in high school we went on a trip to Greece -needless to say the budget was very tight and hence the food very poor- me and my friends survived this 10 day school trip on Kinder. Everywhere we could we bought these little treats. So when I saw them being produced right in front of me I was quite impressed. Nostalgia.
Also the process for the Ferrero Rocher production is quite impressive. This little sweet treat has all the Ferroro expertise. It all starts with the baking of the perfect crisp waffle. Then they are cut and the Nutella paste is added, then the perfectly roasted hazelnuts nuts. This is all layered with chocolate and more nuts until the Rocher is ready. What marked me most was the extensive quality control of the whole process. The smallest imperfection is noticed.
I have never considered how long it takes to produce these kind of sweets/treats. In one big bite it is gone…
This focus on quality is something that is very important for the Ferrero group and this goes beyond the production where for example all nuts have to be equal size. Quality as such is important to a lot of companies but I have never seen such a focus on this topic as within the Ferrero group. Let me give you an example:
- each and every one of the employees worldwide is constantly looking for perished products or products that are about to reach their ultimate consummation date to replace them by fresher products. The Belgian Managing director as well as the lady responsible for the coffee in Alba. Hard to imagine and MD doing this…
Recruiter by day, blogger by night.
As you might know I have been working in the staffing and recruitment business for over 10 years so I have had the opportunity to get to know and to work with a lot of companies. During the trip to Alba Ferrero also presented their CSR initiatives. I really liked two of these initiatives by Ferrero: the Fondazione and Kinder+Sport. Let me tell you something more about them.
The Fondazione Ferrero in Alba is meant for all the retired employees. The idea is to keep the elderly socially engaged to prevent depression and health issues. A big thank you after years of loyalty to the company. I know first hand how important it is to keep the elder sociable.
A Nutella bar, comfy seats, fresh flowers and a lot of happy chatting people in the main area.
Doctor’s appointments and regular health checks, weekly bridge games, exhibitions, movie screenings, pottery classes, paint classes, gym classes, excursions to visit expositions or to go city tripping…it is all offered here.
There is even a recreational area where the grandparents can play and tinker with their grandkids. No grumpy faces here. I really liked the vibe, some kind of Club Med for the elderly. I’d love to see these kind of initiatives here in Belgium.
Kinder+Sport was born out of the idea that children nowadays don’t move as often as they should to have a healthy lifestyle. In the ‘good old days’ this wasn’t an issue. Children just played outside and moved constantly so the occasional sweets and chocolate weren’t a problem. Today however with all the gaming, tablets etc. it becomes much harder to motivate our kids to move. Kinder+Sport organizes sportive activities and games. Ferrero also sponsors anti-obesity programs for kids in other countries.
I can hear you say that it is kind of a hypocrite way of acting…first stuffing the kids with sugar and then trying to get the kids to move and become healthier by moving and losing weight? Exactly my idea to at first but with Ferrero apparently it really is not only about making profit.
You can easily have big discussions about this, I have noticed this recently.
For me it is quite simple….it is all in the balance. Something a lot of people seem to forget.
As you know I am into a healthy lifestyle and try to offer my kids healthy homemade non processed foods but the occasional treat or exception won’t kill them. Offering them Kinder Surprise as a special treat or a toast with Nutella from time to time… why not? I have had this as a kid and still like it from time to time. The problem lies in consuming all these goodies on a weekly (or worse, daily) basis.
After meeting the enthusiastic and inspired people at Ferrero I have to say I kind of admire this company. This is one of the first companies I meet that really acts on its values and where every employee is really part of the big family and shares the same values. They even call themselves Ferrero’s. Needless to say the retention rate is quite high here. For me this was a really interesting trip for my daytime as well as my nighttime job.
And to say it all started with hazelnuts in a local grocery store…
Thanks again to Ferrero and Protéines for this inspiring and very yummie trip!