Kraft Foods Belgium
Kraft Foods, with more than $32 billion in revenues (2004) and
98,000 employees, is the world's second largest food processing
company (Nestle is numero uno). Kraft Foods Belgium contributes
418 million Euros (2003) and 1,700 employees to those totals.
Thanks to its Cote d'Or brand, Kraft Foods is also the absolute
number one in Belgium chocolate with a market share of more than
Halle, with a population I guesstimate to be around 25,000, lies12
miles south of Brussels. Headquarters for Kraft Foods Belgium
stands on the edge of town in a three-story building adjacent
to two of its factories, one of which produces Cote d'Or chocolate.
The complex is set back from the main road running past but,
a large sign emblazoned with Kraft product names stands near
the roadside so visitors know they've found the right place.
Entering the property one passes a large expansive grassy area.
Something moving catches my eye, then something else moves, then
another similar-looking object. Whoa, it seems rabbits have created
a settlement here as I quicky count 12 of em. Hmm, I've
heard of guard dogs but could these be guard rabbits?
Visitors have to be buzzed into the building and then check in
at the reception desk. I take a seat in the very small waiting
area while the receptionist checks to see who ended up with my
letter of introduction sent to General Manager Pierre Iweins.
On the reception counter there's a basket filled with chocolate
toffee samples. Nearby an elevator's exterior has been completely
enveloped into an ad for Cote d'Or chocolate (it's well done).
Also nearby are five glass displays filled with various products
produced by Kraft. An employee walks in smoking a cigarette and
after a few seconds of chit-chat with the receptionist he heads
upstairswhich means smoking is permitted in the building.
I meet with Valerie Moens, Corporate Affairs Manager Benelux,
who's very generous with her time even though she hadn't seen
the advance material sent a month earlier. About 240 people work
in the place with an additional 450 in the factory. Parking is
free and plentiful, the cafeteria serves hot food, there's no
executive dining rooms, meeting rooms are named after continents
and smoking isn't allowed in the building (I don't mention seeing
the smoking employee in the lobby). It's five minutes to the
nearest freeway, 30 minutes to Brussels airport and there's uncovered
parking for commuting cyclists. Any unusual employee perks? Every
two months employees receive vouchers for Kraft goodies at the
Can't see GM Iweins' office but Moens does give me a walk through
the building. So, how do I rate Cote d'Or chocolate? I don't
know as Moens lets me leave empty-handed.
Company websites: www.kraftfoods.be and www.cotedor.com