The Moodie Davitt Report brings you the latest instalment in our popular series Ten Easy Pieces*, in which we get up close and personal with leading travel retail personalities via ten snapshot questions.
In this edition we meet Kraft Heinz Regional Sales Manager & Global Travel Retail Manager Jacco Douma, the man behind Planters’ rapid expansion in global travel retail.
1. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Amsterdam. We lived there until I was four and then the family – my parents and two sisters – moved to the south of The Netherlands. I was fortunate to grow up in a warm and happy family and I had a great childhood, with many friends.
My father, Reitze, always worked for multinational companies and did a lot of travelling about. Funnily enough, it seems I am following in his footsteps although that was never part of my plan.
2. As a teenager and young man did you have any idea of what you wanted to do with your life?
I loved, and still love, football. I started playing when I was four years old and I was quite good at it. I played for TSC and Amsterdamsche Football Club (AFC) and later came very close to getting involved with a First Division team, NAC Breda. I guess my career could have taken a totally different path but it was not to be.
After secondary school I took a year off. I went to Cambridge in England for four months to improve my English and then to Granada in Spain to learn Spanish. Had a fantastic time; a great mixture of studies and a lot of socialising! I think I can say it was a valuable year though; it helped form my character and made me more independent.
Afterwards I decided to put my head down and study economics in Amsterdam. I am very results driven and whilst I really appreciated my time out, I realised it was time to do something with my life.
3. Armed with a degree from the University of Amsterdam, you decided to set up your own business. What prompted that decision?
During my studies and finalising a thesis I found myself in close contact with a Spanish company called Angulas Aguinaga, which specialises in seafood products. We started working together and I founded a small import/export company.
It actually did well and I managed to break even within six months. I think the responsibility of running my own business was another valuable experience, a learning step, for me. Wherever I work I act as if I am working for my own company.
Perhaps one day in the future I will start something of my own again. I definitely wouldn’t exclude that idea.
4. From fish and seafood products to confectionery… what sparked your interest in Perfetti van Melle?
I have always loved Mentos, even from a young age. If I was going on a school excursion my mother always added some Mentos to my bag. They were part of something rather nice! So, when there was a possibility to work with Perfetti van Melle (PvM), to work with a real ‘A’ brand, I jumped at it.
Within six months I was promoted and three months after that I was off to Italy and living and working in Milan at the company’s headquarters. A year later I found myself part of the Mentos global brand marketing team in Switzerland. It was like a dream come true!
Again with Mentos, I returned to Holland to deal with marketing in the domestic market. It was another good step for me as my experience in both global and domestic markets has been very helpful in my career. I had the opportunity to work in sales and with trade marketing as well.
My final years at PVM were centred on exporting and the Scandinavian market.
5. One outstanding major launch or project from your years at PVM?
That has to be the global launch and roll out of Mentos Gum in 2005 and 2006. We were the first mover to put Mentos Gum in a bottle packaging. It was a fantastic time, great to see sales exploding and gauging customer appreciation. That launch showed that it all comes down to putting the consumer first. The consumer has to like what they are being offered and Mentos Gum proved a great success. PVM, of course, grew big time due to that launch.
6. And then from confectionery to peanuts and snacks. Why Kraft Heinz?
I was looking for a new challenge and possibly another level of a multinational company. Again I seem to be following in my father’s footsteps and enjoying the size and scope of a big company.
Kraft Heinz wants to grow fast and that suits me. I am responsible for domestic markets in 16 countries with Kraft Heinz Company (KHC) products, including sauces, and for the Planters peanut and snack range in airlines and global travel retail. It’s a huge market for us and we are growing fast, double-digit numbers everywhere.
I was challenged to set up new business and quickly moved into travel retail. Consumer research showed that there was a potential for more healthy snacks in travel retail. It’s all part of the global trend and the changing confectionery market.
Kraft Heinz has the biggest nut brand in the world; Planters is a US$2 billion brand. The research and numbers make sense. To put it in a nutshell, we shipped our first products in April 2017 and they are now available in 52 countries.
I like working with people and my team is great, the best in class. My colleagues, the people around me, have made me successful; they are most important, as without my team I am nobody.
And I mustn’t forget Mr Peanut, our ambassador who is bringing the brand alive in travel retail and duty free. He may seem a bit nutty but he works! Judging by the number of photographs that are taken of Mr Peanut, consumers really appreciate him.
7. Tell us about Kraft Heinz’s CSR programme. How does that fit in with your personal views on giving back?
I value making a difference for people in the world. I do my own thing, helping at the Koppie-Au foundation as a volunteer, and I like the fact that I work for a company which is determined to make a difference.
Kraft Heinz has the ‘To Be the Best Food Company, Growing a Better World’ vision which focuses on issues and areas where the company can make the greatest global impact. It’s the fifth largest food and beverage company in the world, a household name and I believe it is really trying to take care of the environment.
One of its boldest commitments is a pledge to deliver 1 billion meals to people in need by 2021.
I like the fact that it is giving free meals to needy children and that every employee helps to pack those meals at least once a year. I don’t think many people realise that. It’s hands on and again being part of a team that makes the difference.
Kraft Heinz believes that no child, anywhere in the world, should be hungry. We work together with organisations, like the International Red Cross, to rise against hunger, and I believe the programmes are effective.
It just goes to show that we can make a difference.
8. What is Koppie-Au?
Koppie-Au is a Dutch foundation which supports research into brain tumours in children. The charity was founded by a friend of mine, Johannes Schakel.
Every year about 130 children in The Netherlands are diagnosed with a brain tumour. It’s regarded as the most common form of childhood cancer after leukemia yet very little research is done in this field. Koppie-Au wants to change that and is working with four major hospitals in Holland.
I help by organising a big sporting event every year where we invite people to play indoor soccer, try cycling, yoga and tennis. Everyone who takes part seems to really enjoy it. Afterwards, of course, we all get together at a social gathering and any money that is collected goes to the foundation.
It’s a great feeling, a satisfaction that we are doing something to help. Koppie-Au’s goal, and my dream, is that in the future no children will pass away due to cancer.
9. Do you have a mentor?
Yes, I have two coaches, Freek van Bedaf and Wendeline de Bouter, who guide me. I see them once or twice a year.
Freek van Bedaf is Director of the Pontes Group which helps professionals and organisations to recognise and develop their own style of ’employeneurship’. How has he helped me? That’s my secret.
Wendeline de Bouter specialises in personal drives and inner motivation through the Enneagram of Personality. There are nine character categories, ranging from reformer/perfectionist and achiever to peacemaker and mediator, and the Enneagram analyses the interconnecting personalities.
10. Away from travel retail, how do you relax?
Like so many in this business, I’m travelling a lot. When I am away I try to enjoy myself and ensure that my colleagues have a good time too. That’s really important, to enjoy what you are doing.
I love how so many different people and cultures get together in travel retail.
When I am home for weekends I spent all my time with my family and friends. I have a lovely wife, Marleen and two boys, Tebbe and Flynt, who are seven and four years old. Tebbe plays football and I coach his team. We do a lot together as a family; they are the most important part of my life.
I enjoy a great social life as well. I seem to gain energy when I am with friends and they will always be important to me; couldn’t do without them!
I love good food and a beer now and again. I still love my football and when I am not working I make the most of my spare time. That’s what you have to do; relax, enjoy life and have fun.
*PREVIOUSLY FEATURED TEN EASY PIECES PERSONALITIES INCLUDE: