Nestlé’s Amazon distribution model

Photo: Marcia Zoet Bloomberg

Nestlé is planning to sail a supermarket barge down two Amazon River tributaries, namely Pará and Xingu rivers in Brazil. Nestlé wants to compete with Unilever in Brazil and aims to reach customers isolated from branded goods. Consumer goods companies are increasingly focusing on the one billion people in emerging markets estimated to exit poverty in the coming decade. These consumers will have the disposable income to afford packaged goods.

The distribution model – the barge will journey to 18 small cities for three weeks, docking one day in each city. From Belém, the vessel will sail to the region of Marajó Island to the city of Almeirim, into the Baixo Amazonas, or the Amazon Lowlands region, before returning to Belém.

The barge – Eleven people, including supermarket’s employees and crew members, will work on a daily basis on the 27.5m long boat housing three stock areas and 100m² store space.

Smaller package sizes – Nestlé has adapted its product portfolio by offering smaller, lower price point products including Alpino ice cream and Ninho milk powder.

Social Responsibility question

The distribution model is already ringing alarm bells in certain communities as Nestlé aims to penetrate deep in the Amazon forest. Nestlé’s product offering is unlikely to satisfy all, but how can Nestlé make their business model more inclusive and add value to communities?

Community development – Nestlé has the opportunity to include medicine, vaccines and other necessary products to their existing product range.

Micro-credit – Banco Bradesco SA in Brazil has already started to offer banking services in December via the Solimoes River, also in the Amazon. Nestlé can potentially tie-up with Banco Bradesco or other institutions to provide much needed micro-credit to potential entrepreneurs and distributors in the area.

Training and health information
– Nestlé can provide training and development to local entrepreneurs and also include health and wellness education.

Pictures of the distribution model can be viewed here.

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