Graduates Blog

A F15 in Bangladesh

Hello everyone! When I last met you, we had just finished our F15® training in Leeds. Lots has happened since then! We have all recently started our second rotations. This time, we are spread out again, with people in Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Egypt, UK, Nigeria and my new home: Bangladesh!

Published: June 22, 2016 by Charlotte Thomassen 

My second rotation is in Arla International – with one leg in Bangladesh and the other leg in the Corporate Responsibility team (also known in the wider world as CSR).  In Arla International, we maintain a focus on our businesses outside Europe to ensure that we maintain our integrity and our social license to operate.

In Bangladesh, our business is primarily focused around whole milk powder which is produced in Denmark and Germany, and then imported to Bangladesh where it is safely re-packaged into smaller amounts, and distributed. 

With 60 million people in Bangladesh living in food-insecure areas without the minimum dietary micronutrient requirement (protein, vitamins, minerals, fats, etc.), we have a huge opportunity to improve the lives of many through affordable nutrition. From this, Arla Foods Bangladesh has recently introduced an affordable milk powder called Dano Daily. Here, the milk fat (which can be used for butter) has been replaced with vegetable fats; this makes it more affordable, whilst maintaining the vitamins and macronutrient content.  A 20g bag costs just 10 taka – the equivalent of 11 euro cents.

Therefore, my task is to assess if this growth and new product introductions could potentially impact human rights in Bangladesh.

In particular: 

  • The impact of growing our milk powder business in Bangladesh on local farmers whose livelihoods depend on their own small-scale milk production.
  • The impact of introducing affordable products on the right to health, and what this means for Arla’s growth agenda within affordable nutrition.

Two reports have already been published for Nigeria and Senegal , and from this research, we are currently exploring ways to help to develop the local dairy sector in West-Africa, whilst ensuring our business grows in a responsible way. 

I will be conducting field work this summer to visit local dairy farmers, local bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers (people living on less than $2/day), NGOs, and also private corporations involved in the Dairy industry. This will give us a fuller picture of the situation in Bangladesh, and will enable us to assess if our business in Bangladesh could be linked to any potential adverse impacts on human rights for local people and the local dairy industry.

I have only been in Bangladesh for 3 weeks, but it has already been a whirlwind of new experiences!  I have visited our packaging factory and seen elephants wandering the streets on the way; visited local markets where I have talked to market stall holders about our products; and I am also getting more used to the terrible traffic in Dhaka(!). 

I am really excited to see what the rest of my rotation has in store!  The opportunity to do work which has such a huge future impact on the way we operate in Bangladesh is quite astounding!  Watch this space!

Charlotte Thomassen

Position: F15® 2015 Team 
Period: 2015
Location: The Netherlands/Bangladesh/United Arab Emirates
Department: 1st Rotation: Category Management Strategy & Shopper Marketing Analysis, Dusseldorf, Germany & Nijkerk, The Netherlands, 2nd Rotation: Human Rights Assessment Project, Consumer International, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 3rd Rotation: Category, Market entry, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.