In 2023, Nestlé celebrates 55 years of doing business in Kenya –. That’s five and a half decades of unlocking the power of food for families in the east and horn of Africa! At this time of the year, that 55-year mark is a significant touchpoint as we reflect on the year that was and look forward to the year ahead. Having been part of getting families ready for back-to-school, we know that this moment is more than just kids getting ready for a new grade. This time of the year is also about parents and caregivers going through that entire shift of getting back into the saddle of whatever occupations we have – higher education studies, formal work, domestic routines – all of it.

The last few years have been about consistently pivoting businesses in an uncertain socio-economic climate the world over, and in this corner of the planet, we haven’t been spared. The most important lesson we have picked up from the recent pandemic and the global geopolitical forces is that we are more connected than we sometimes realise. How each of us go about our day-to-day business is always a collective effort towards shared value, and that should be our point of view as we look toward the year ahead.

Having been a strong presence in Kenya for over five decades, we have seen many trends come and go, especially on nutrition, health, and wellness. Of course, there is the constant trend of diets and detox regimes that we tend to kick the year with, along with exercise schedules that many of us struggle to maintain. In the second quarter of the year, second-hand shops tend to fill up with home gym equipment as people try to dispose of these reminders that they have fallen off the wagon. But there’s a different view that we miss – holistic well-being should be the focus – that is, a wider spectrum of nutrition, health, and wellness. We are talking about psychological wellness, in the same vein as physiological well-being.

In general, our bodies are an elemental concern – the need to nourish them is existential. We take care of them through health and fitness, and through eating well. Simple fitness acts, done regularly, such as family exercise drills, long walks or physical games like soccer and tennis will do the trick. Eating well is intentional – a healthy balanced breakfast in the morning, incorporating micronutrients through fortified foods kickstarts our health journey every day. A glass of NESTLÈ MILO, for instance, will do wonders for our kids on the playgrounds due to its vitamins and minerals that boost energy release. And, of course, that occasional snack such as an appropriately portioned piece of chocolate for the endorphins and a steaming cup of NESCAFÈ for a pick-me-up as the day wanes.

We should extend that wellness effort to include mental and financial wellbeing too. Covid-19 gave us a much-needed jolt on the centrality of mental health to a good quality life. The ask need not be complicated. It can be 20-minutes of meditation daily to help with focus or running regular baths with essential oils to relax the body and mind – simple everyday habits that can shift our mental health for the better.

Geo-political forces are reminding us of the need to be financially astute to take better care of our families. Whether it be increasing oil prices or energy scarcity, the pinch does show up in our homes. All we can really do is prepare ad-nauseum! Budget relentlessly, practise strict discipline in expending that budget, and learn from our day-to-day mistakes so that we do better the following day. This will shift our mindsets and get us geared towards a better year, with better prospects for our families all round.

It’s been 55-years of partnership with families and communities in Kenya and the rest of east Africa. And over these decades of serving this community, we know that kicking off the year prepared across all fronts of nutrition, health, and wellness, makes a difference that endures throughout the year.

By Arvind Bhandari, Cluster Manager, Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR)