Alumni Speaker Series - Simon Fox
1 December 2012
Chemical Engineering 1988 graduate Simon Fox, Senior Principal Engineer at Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods) returned to the Department about 25 years after graduation to give a very interesting and interactive talk to department students. He talked about 'Designing Sustainability in a Fast Moving Consumer Goods business and more specifically about coffee 'made happy'.
Undergraduates participated by looking at product packaging and guessing the carbon footprint of several Mondelez products on display from well know brands such as Kenco, Cadbury and Milka. Whilst talking about coffee Simon mentioned that the key is to look at the product 'from farm to cup' labels that tell you what goes on in the system supply chain as in the origin of the ingredients, logistics and product transport and its processing, packaging and wastage.
Simon talked about some of the chemical engineering processes involved in coffee production, a 'chemical engineer's dream' involving powder and slurry handling, waste incineration, flue gas catalysers, liquid nitrogen frosts, plug flow reactors, etc.. He also gave examples of how Mondelez is aiming to put sustainability into their food products by assessing the social, economic and environmental impact of their business activities. For example, considering the global warming impacts of 100 grams of soluble coffee.
In order to reduce the energy used in manufacturing processes, Mondelez has produced and promoted different coffee pack formats like Kenco 'refill bags' that are more 'sustainable'-friendly or green option.
However, he highlighted the challenge faced by most businesses in needing to link deeper fundamentals to consumer needs as 71% of Europeans don't know which products are really 'green'.
To show their commitment to sustainability, Mondelez have undertaken 'lifecycle analysis' of their products to guide them in making informed business decisions and help them reduce the impact of their products. Towards this aim, Mondelez is to invest in the 'Coffee Made Happy' Sustainability Initiative as well as the 'One Million Coffee Farming Entrepreneur's by 2020, which will help them reach their 'sustainable' goals and drive business growth.
Finally, he added that Mondelez will also be working alongside farming communities and NGOs as well as reduce wastage by selecting appropriate equipment than can handle the job with less steps in the process that will save energy, hence reducing the environmental impact of their operations.