Track & Trace Global Dairy Chain From Grass to Glass
A common image of the Dutch countryside would likely consist of flat, green meadows filled with black-and-white cows and windmills. It is true, there were an impressive 1.6 million cows in the Netherlands in 2018, or roughly one-tenth of the country’s human population. This is where Royal FrieslandCampina came from, one of the world’s largest cooperative with roots dating back to 1871.
The Gift from God
Co-owned by 18,000 farmers, FrieslandCampina produced 10.7 billion kilograms of milk a year. In Hong Kong, FrieslandCampina owned a number of well-known dairy brands: FRISO, BLACK & WHITE, DUTCH LADY, Longevity and OPTIMEL, first three taking the no. 1 position in their own category, with the rich brand portfolio serving consumers across all ages.
“For over 140 years, FrieslandCampina focus only on one thing we know best – dairy products, that’s why we are a time-honoured cooperative that I believe will last another century.” explained Helena He, Managing Director of FrieslandCampina (Hong Kong) Ltd.
I still remembered the first day I joined FrieslandCampina Hong Kong, I was in the Netherlands joining the media tour as a celebration of the company’s 80th anniversary of Hong Kong. I was deeply impressed by our dairy member farmers who were driven by the belief that ‘Milk is the Gift from Nature’, and they feel very proud to share this nutritional gift with the world to nourish the lives of millions of consumers every day.
Shepherding the Premium Quality via Stringent Process
Motivated by a strong purpose, FrieslandCampina’s operation is also guided by the comprehensive FOQUS food safety and quality management and monitoring system. “We maintain a robust system starting from the source. Every cow in our farms is tagged with a RFID ear tag and borne with smart collar / ankle bracelet, to record and keep track of their information, activity and health data. Every member dairy farmer is certified, while FrieslandCampina regularly conducts farm audits and cow health checks. Moreover, all professional milk truck drivers are trained and certified. They always check the temperature, odour and colour of milk prior collection to assure milk quality; they also take a milk sample, with GPS tracking system, for laboratory analysis. From grass the glass, every step of the full dairy chain is under strict surveillance to guarantee nothing goes wrong.”
“We also make sure the milk is kept at 0-4°C and 70 km from farm to factory, so that every delivery has to be within 1.5 hours. That is one of the reasons why FrieslandCampina’s milk always sustain a top-of-line nutritional value,” Helena described the food chain safety and traceability practices in details.
Breeding Trust from Safety and Traceability
With such stringent measures, FrieslandCampina was crowned the Diamond Enterprise Winner in GS1 HK’s Quality Food Traceability Scheme in 2017, the first year of their participation. As technology advances, the company is also digitalising the track-and-trace process by launching the new FRISO ‘TrackEasy’ initiative. Consumers can scan a QR code under FRISO formula products’ tins, and view the full journey of the formula milk from their Holland own farms, going through stages of milk collection, packaging, key quality checks at different stages of production, till the in-market port arrival of the products. A 360-degree real life image of the farm, weather, air quality index, temperature, no. of cows etc. – can also be revealed in real-time for consumers.
Bullish Outlook of the Dairy Market
When asked about business opportunities, Helena believes Hong Kong is still a blue ocean. “Hong Kong is a strategic and sophisticated market for us. According to our survey, dairy intake of over 90% of HK parents and their children is lower than Department of Health’s recommendation. We will continue to nourish the lives of Hong Kong people across all ages – pregnant mums, toddlers, kids, families, mass consumers, senior adults, with our diverse product portfolio.”
To advocate the idea of “Drink. Move. Be Strong” – meaning balanced nutrition, sufficient dairy intake (1-2 glasses of milk a day), regular exercise (60-minute exercise a day), FrieslandCampina leverages its dairy and nutrition expertise to organize the ‘Hong Kong World Milk Day’ every year. Meanwhile, DUTCH LADY’s Breakfast Campaign encourages parents to have breakfast together with their children every day, spending parent-child quality time.
To cater to the needs of the different consumers, the company launched FRISO PRESTIGE, an ultra-premium line. “With precious nutrients from the first layer of milk, the product preserves natural nutrients in milk. It’s also a low-sugar formula which 93% of mums agree FRISO PRESTIGE taste light. It is a result of our listening to the customers.”
Every drop marks the hardwork
Running a dairy farm is a big commitment, our dairy farmers are usually supported by only 1-2 helper and need to wake up at 4-5am, to take care of the cows, the ryegrass, the milking process, the machines, etc. You will learn to appreciate their efforts when you know their lives, and their aspiration to preserving the mother nature,” Helena showed much respect to the Dutch farmers. “The farmers would go so far to name their cow names, and treated them like their family, I believe that’s why the milk has such high-quality, filled with sweetness and love.