Facing changes and taking advantage of opportunities

As each year, the specialized seminar on food chain companies (SEMSA) has been held. Usually it is conducted in-person at our headquarters in Seville, however, a special online edition has taken place this time, due to Covid-19. Representatives from Alibaba Group, Suntory Schweppes, Excel Venture Management and IMD Business School participated in the virtual meeting. The meeting was held on July 14 and 15 with the support of Grupotec and Norgestion one more year.

On Wednesday, July 14, we released a case study about the Chinese e-commerce giant, "Alibaba Group: Digitization: the point of no return", with the participation of Alba Ruiz Laigle, Senior Business Development Manager Spain and Portugal of Alibaba Group. During the session, participants discussed, along with Professor Julio Audicana Arcas, about the Covid-19 crisis and how is boosting the implementation of electronic commerce and the digitization of other processes. Alibaba Group it is interesting for its growing development in China and other Asian countries, as well as for its reference icon, the concept of New Retail, that they are trying to implement in other countries of the world for five years now.

During the second session, entitled “The crisis that surprised the world, what does it change? What does it stimulate?”, Professor Juan Enrique Cabot, Managing Director at Excel Venture Management, analyzed aspects that are still not known about the pandemic, what awaits us, when and how we will get out and how will change the world, society, companies, food, international trade and the new rules of globalization after the crisis.

On Wednesday, July 15, Nicolas Imeneuraet, CEO of Suntory Schweppes Spain and Portugal, had the leading role, as a special guest, in the case study entitled: “Suntory Schweppes. The sustainability strategy: should we alter the path after the Covid-19 crisis?”. Professor Enrique Garrido Martínez conducted the development of the case study.

During the discussion, it was mentioned that in July 2020 the short-term impacts of the epidemic can already be measured, in particular for Horeca channel, which is a relevant sector for this company in Iberia.

Before the crisis the enterprise was developing an ambitious sustainability plan, however, now the consumers and markets´ priorities have changed and the need to use plastic has increased during these months. So, is it recommended to adapt the long-term strategy for issues like sustainability or should be changeless? What will be the future consumer demand after Coronavirus? Will they be willing to pay price surcharge for sustainable products and management? These and other questions were discussed in the virtual seminar.


The last conference of the special edition was entitled: "Food chain reaction to disruptive change: the meat industry´s case”. Albrecht Enders, IMD Business School Professor, discussed about how new entrants can redefine the competitive landscape of an industry by introducing emerging technologies and new business models.

Exploring the specific meat industry´s case, he went deeper into the difficulties to adapting to disruptive change as well as risks and opportunities coming from these changes.