Mass Commodity Food, theme of the first sector breakfast

  • Great success for the first sector breakfast organised by the Barcelona School of Management and the Human Resources Forum of Foment del Treball.
  • Oriol Amat, Professor at Pompeu Fabra University, led the first meeting dedicated to mass commodity food.
  • Executives from the main food companies attended the first sector breakfast.

Oriol AmatThe Barcelona School of Management’s Corporate Solutions area and the Human Resources Forum of Foment del Treball held a sector breakfast dedicated to mass commodity food. Oriol Amat, Professor at the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), gave a talk on the success factors of progressing companies to the human resources executives of Nutrexpa, Henkel, Unilever, Europastry, Nestlé, Danone and Damm. The breakfast ended with a debate among the attendees on the future of the sector, which is experiencing a boom in distributor brands.

The difference between the perception of the current economic situation and the truth was the first point discussed by Oriol Amat. The professor indicated that the sales of Catalan companies increased by 4% and they exported 30% more in 2010 (Source: Chamber of Commerce), despite the population’s tendency to have a negative perception.

Oriol Amat, an advisor on the Barcelona School of Management’s finance programmes, set out different business models of food companies which are growing despite the crisis. The commitment to people, incentives and innovation are a common denominator of these companies, as shown by Oriol Amat on the basis of the report by the Generalitat (Autonomous Government of Catalonia) “Gazelle Companies in Catalonia”.

Oriol AmatThe UPF professor categorized three paths for innovation: copying, discarding and acts of faith; and pointed out that “trial and error” is used to implement them. Amat indicated that progressing companies are distinguished by their “level of effort and ambition, professionalism, innovation and quality, low debt, marketing and internationalisation and dimension and cooperation”.

On ending the talk, the human resources executives from the main food companies debated the current situation of the sector, marked by competition on the shelves between traditional brands and distributor brands, which are experiencing strong growth. Faced with this situation, the executives favour adding value to their products, exporting and innovating. They are also committed to high-end products, which do not suffer from the crisis as much, in order to offset the losses produced by the boom in private label brands.

The conclusions of the debate include the consensus that a company cannot be managed the same in good times as in the current context of cutbacks and unemployment. There was also agreement that investment in training is more profitable than investing in machinery.