What’s your new direction going to be?
The 2017 Food South Australia Summit started with a couple of curly questions from keynote and leading business commentator Peter Switzer. He asked the audience: have you got a business plan, and have you ever done a SWOT analysis on yourself?
Well, have you?
“Always allow the strategic time to help yourself,” Peter told the audience of almost 200 food industry professionals. Peter’s comments set the scene for the day’s program, which focused on the infinite choices for new business directions, and the practicalities of where innovation fits into food manufacturing.
Do you know what you don’t know?
Food Innovation Partners’ Director Russel Rankin talked about driving innovation by developing a quality network and strong strategic relationships. His advice? Look for people who can fill your knowledge gaps.
Have you got a good idea but limited resources to test it out?
Angeline Achariya, CEO of the Food Innovation Centre at Monash University believes in making use of all your knowledge and all the available resources to test a product idea. But, she said you shouldn’t get hung up if it doesn’t work out the way you would like. As she put it, “fail fast and pivot!” At the Food Innovation Centre, companies can access technology to simulate a new product, including creating on the spot 3D printed samples of packaging and placing them in a virtual Asian supermarket so manufacturers can see how they would look on the shelf. On average, Angeline told us, only 30% of the cost of goods is in the actual recipe. There is so much more to every product, and from packaging to distribution, all of it has the potential to deliver rewards from thinking outside the square.
Who will be eating what – and can you make it?
Mintel Account Director Justin Nel gave the audience a roundup of the strongest current consumer trends, running the gamut from ‘snackification’ to ‘stealth health’. Reducing waste matters, plant foods are a big, big ‘thing’ and food on the go is on a seemingly unstoppable rise. Chewable coffee, anyone?
Are you targeting premium export markets?
At the very start of the day, Peter Switzer asked the audience if anyone there would be prepared to pay $300 for a box of chocolates. Enthusiasm for this idea in the room was muted, to say the least – but Peter then pointed out in a market such as China, a high price could act as a driver, with consumers curious to be first to find out about the story and the product behind it. Visy’s Simon Gray had more to add. Traditionally, keeping packaging costs down is a priority, but Simon reported investing in higher quality packaging is proving to be a winner for businesses targeting the premium Chinese market. Luxe elements such as foils and even printing inside the box is helping to drive the produce story, and to attract a higher price. He also told the audience that the differentiation – and the fun – of personalised packaging is now well within reach for smaller producers as well as the multinationals.
Where can you innovate?
Andrew Culley, Managing Partner and Vanessa Matthijssen, Strategy Partner at Deloitte’s Digital Adelaide returned to the innovation theme, defining it as “the creation of a new, viable business offering” and continuing the discussion of innovation in areas other than the actual product recipe. He shared the thoughts of Larry Keely, co-founder of innovation consultancy firm Doblin: “Innovation almost never fails due to a lack of creativity. It’s almost always because of a lack of discipline.” Andrew encouraged everyone to take a break from coming up with the next big idea for a product, to focus on the other areas of your business that could deliver game-changing innovations.
What makes Angelo Kotses tick?
Always a star attraction in the Summit program, this year’s industry leader interview was with Bickford Group’s Managing Director, Angelo Kotses. In a candid chat with Summit MC David Sly, Angelo outlined key factors in the group’s successful expansion into fresh produce and alcoholic beverages, and talked about his career from his days of flipping burgers to heading up an iconic South Australian brand.
Are you wondering where your profits are hiding?
Moore Stephens South Australia’s Tim Sargent took the audience through the innermost thoughts of a typical food manufacturer and then showed everyone how to unpick a company’s profits to identify where the profits really are and how to improve them by understanding which products, and which customers that are driving profitability for your business.
Do you have an uncommon offering?
South Australia’s queen of all things cheese, Kris Lloyd, suggested taking a closer look around us in the hunt for innovative new products, particularly with export markets in mind. Local native ingredients from Australia are big news, as shown by her Anthill Cheese – a goat cheese layered with native green ants and lemon myrtle – receiving a ‘super gold’ award at the World Cheese Awards late last year. Kris says the magic question she asks herself on a near-daily basis is, “am I getting the margin I deserve?” and a key ingredient in her success with Woodside Cheese Wrights is the segmentation of her business between mainstream products and her “uncommon offering”, where she keeps her inspiration alive developing artisan products such as the Anthill (which retails at $350/kg).
Could changing your business model be the right next step?
It has been for Sundrop Farm. Managing Director Steve Marafiote described their new business model, targeting industry supply constraints (water, land, energy and capital). Sundrop Farm is a global success in sustainable farming, and has secured a ground-breaking 10 year contract with Coles. Solar power has helped them access previously unsuitable arid land and use desalinated seawater in their 20 hectares of greenhouses in Port Augusta. They’ve created 200 vital new regional jobs, doubled grower profitability, and gained significant control of input costs.
Is consumer loyalty all it’s cracked up to be?
Maybe not, according to Senior Research Associate at Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, Associate Professor Svetlana Bogomolova, who presented some common ‘laws of marketing’ with her colleague, Research Scientist Amy Wilson, before reporting on a major research project examining the effect of consumer loyalty on growth of a food brand and engaged the audience in a discussion of how marketing strategies can influence healthier consumer choices.
Did you know being small and smart means you are poised for success?
ChessMate Consulting’s Jean-Yves Heude, rounded out the day’s program by continuing the discussion about loyalty and what that really means for consumers, before encouraging the audience to make the most of being smaller, more flexible and more able to respond to changing consumer needs than the big multinational food manufacturers. In the past, he told us, the big focus has always been on the product, but now we have big data to help us and we need to be thinking not just about the consumer who eats or drinks our products, but the shopper who is the one who physically takes the product off the shelf and puts it in their trolley. And by the way, Jean-Yves estimates your packaging has a whole three seconds to tell your story so convincingly that your product makes it into that all-important trolley.
The clear message from the day’s presenters was that it’s absolutely essential to make the time to work on your business as well as in it. Make sure you really know your numbers, and look everywhere in your business for the ‘step change’ opportunity.
We will leave you with a final word from industry leader Angelo Kotses, who says there’s something else that’s essential to success in the food and beverage industry, and it’s this: love what you do.
The Food South Australia Summit is an annual event hosted by Food South Australia with support funding from Primary Industries and Regions SA.
Graphics: Moore Stephens South Australia