Prepare, Sustain, Thrive and Survive Simply

We Feed the World Translation/Transcript: a film by Erwin Wagenhofer

My name is Peter Brabeck. I’m from Villach in Carinthia. And for the past seven years I’ve been head of the Nestle Group, the largest foodstuff corporation in the world. With a turnover of around 90 billion Swiss francs or around 65 billion dollars and with around 275,000 employs working directly for us. So it’s quite a large ship. We’re the 27th largest company in the world.

Today people believe that everything that comes from Nature is good. That represents a huge change, because until recently, we always learnt that Nature could be pitiless.

Man is now in the position of being able to provide some balance to Nature, but in spite of this we have something approaching a shebbeloth that everything that comes from Nature is good.

A good example is the organic movement. Organic is now best. But organic is not best. After 15 years of eating GM food products in the USA, not one single case of illness has occurred from eating them to date. But in spite of this we’re all so uneasy about it in Europe, that something might happen to us. It’s hypocrisy more than anything else.

There’s that lovely old Austrian folk song: “The deer cattle need water, hollera, holleri,” if you remember. Water is of course the most important raw material. It is a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are to different opinions on the matter.

The one option, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.

The other view says that water is a foodstuff like any other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value.

Personally, I believe it’s better to give a foodstuff a value so that we’re all aware that it has its price, and then that one should take specific measures for the part of the population that has no access to this water and there are many different possibilities there.

I’m still of the opinion that the biggest social responsibility of any CEO is to maintain and ensure the successful and profitable future of his enterprise.  For only if we can ensure our continued long term existence will we be in the position to actively participate in the solution of the problems that exist in the world.

We’re in the position of being able to create jobs. 275,000 here, 1.2 million who are directly dependent on us in principle.  That makes around 4.5 million people in total, because behind each of our employees are another three people, so we have at least 4.5 million people who are directly dependent on us.

If you want to create work, you have to work yourself, not as it was in the past, where existing work was distributed. If you remember the main argument for the 35-hour week was that there was a certain amount of work and it would be better if we worked less and distributed the work amongst more people. That has proved quite clearly to be wrong. If you want to create more work you have to work more yourself.

And with that we’ve got to create a positive image of the world for people, and I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be positive about the future. We’ve never had it so good, we’ve never had so much money, and we’ve never been so healthy, we’ve never lived so long as we do today. We have everything we want and still we go around as if we were in mourning for something.

The Japanese, you can see how modern those factories are; almost no people.

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