Unlocking Value in the Fresh Produce Industry

A few months ago I was asked by Dr. Wayne Visser to write a book review for his just released book ‘Sustainable Frontiers: Unlocking Change through Business, Leadership and Innovation’ (see here).

In this article I share some of the insights gained, that I believe leaders in our industry need to be aware of and preparing for if not already doing so.

New business realities will reshape our business whether we like it or not!

Today, a growing, connected and increasingly well informed global population that will reach 9 billion people by 2030, is already challenging the way businesses deliver goods and services. Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency on a wide range of fronts when it comes to making purchasing decisions, especially those categorized as Millennials.

When it comes to food, consumers now want to know where their food is grown, under what conditions, how growers, farm workers and local communities are treated, how scarce resources such as water are used and animal rights are respected. Further up the value chain people are concerned about food safety, product shelf life, food waste, the inclusion of genetically modified products or hormones in the final product and pesticide residues.

These concerns are now a contributing factor in how some brands position and shape their competitive advantage. Chipotle’s new multi media advertising campaign called ‘Friend or Faux’ which you can read about in the article below, is a clear example of linking brand message to consumer concerns.

Transformational leaders are needed to ensure company survival and future prosperity

With the stakeholder list in a company now extending beyond just shareholders and what they want, transformational leaders are required to navigate the increasing complexity encountered in the business environment and create a resilient organizations for the future.

Such leaders need to be systems thinkers, have an interdisciplinary understanding of things, high emotional intelligence, a caring attitude and a management style that cultivates trust. In addition, such leaders have to show that their long term perspective matters more than short term results and that they are open to new, radical and innovative ways of doing business.

Value creation requires a broader understanding of what creates value for a company

Historically value has been defined in monetary terms only. As Dr. Visser points out, this is an outmoded model of interpreting value creation. His concept of Integrated Shared Value (ISV) is a much more useful approach to understanding what value a company is able to capture when clearly understood and integrated into company strategy.

The ISV approach to capturing value encompasses knowing who your stakeholders are, how each group might impact operations (positively or negatively), developing systems that mitigate risk and unlock opportunities in relation to stakeholders, internal processes, products and services. Couple to this strategic objectives and regular feedback loops and one soon has the making of a business that is capable of creating value not just for its shareholders, but for all stakeholders.

For some companies such as IKEA and Coca Cola this goal is already in their day to day conversation, often referred to as being Net Positive (see definition below)

‘Sustainable Frontiers’ sends us a clear message. If your business is still operating under the old paradigm that there are no limits to growth, that “hero leaders” will pull you through any difficulty and that money is the sole indicator of value, your future business survival is in serious jeopardy!

At FreshXperts we are calling on transformational leaders to rise to the challenge of making their businesses resilient for the future and would be delighted to help you in that process.

The NETpositive concept recognizes that sustainability is not solely an environmental concern, but is an economic and social imperative for all businesses. If we accept this, then the focus of a sustainability strategy plan should deliver measureable value to customers, stakeholders and society, whilst securing and growing a business financially. This commitment requires a holistic approach to sustainability, where a business manages its positive and negative impacts on the environment and society in a balanced manner.

On July 21st, 2015 Chipotle launched its integrated marketing campaign “Friend or Faux” to highlight the differences between the ingredients it uses in its products versus those of its competitors.

This campaign aims to reinforce the position Chipotle has adopted of selling food that respects farmers, animals, the environment, consumer demands for transparency up and down the supply chain and manner in which it treats its staff.

The “Friend or Faux”campaign invites consumers to learn what the difference is between Chipotle’s ingredients and that of its competitors, clearly raising the bar in the fast food sector and showing how sustainability issues can be woven into the fabric of brand equity.

This is a great example of a brand reminding consumers what it stands for and how the story it tells can become a strong competitive advantage.

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Andrew Southwood

Andrew Southwood

I am drawn to the fresh produce industry because it is a vibrant, ever changing, demanding, stimulating and essential part of daily life, that is filled with amazing people who are set to rise to the challenge of feeding 10 billion people by 2050!