The Chocolates Valor case is centered on the analysis of the internationalization of a family-owned food business that operates in a sector dominated by large multinational organizations, in which the large distribution chains continue to use white labeling as a means to force cuts in sales margins.
The company’s results in 2013 were the best in its 130-year history, amounting to 120 million Euros. Its success was based primarily on the sourcing of high quality raw materials, the creation of a robust brand in the domestic market, the safeguarding of good margins in the mass distribution channels and a firm commitment to innovation.
At the domestic level, Chocolates Valor is positioned amongst the top players in the industry and is located at the forefront of several market niches, with products such as dark chocolate tablets, chocolate and almond tablets or sugar free chocolate tablets. In addition to tablets, Chocolates Valor also produces chocolate bonbons, hot drinking chocolate, snacks and industrial toppings, and even operates a franchise network of hot chocolate shops or establishments.
2014 outlook was better in terms of turnover, but worse in regard to margins. This stemmed from a rise in the price of raw materials, which was difficult to pass on to final consumers. On the other hand, the company was immersed in major changes, not only because they had to finish digesting the purchase of the Huesitos and Tokke snack brands from Kraft, but also because they were rolling out a new personnel performance evaluation program in parallel to a new continuous improvement process.
As far as internationalization was concerned, in spite of the fact that the company’s products were sold in over 60 countries, only 7% of their total turnover came from export. Furthermore, the penetration strategy they had chosen for different countries was quite disparate. In the USA, they opened their own sales subsidiary, supported by a logistics operator; in the Philippines, they sold through an importer that was very well positioned in the premium chocolate segment (with no exclusivity commitment from the importer); while in countries like Colombia and Canada, they reached exclusive agreements with major distributors/retailers.
Although Chocolates Valor has a very well defined roadmap in Spain, they have a much greater potential for international growth and are as yet unable to replicate a strategy that is as coherent and effective as the one implemented in the domestic market.