“We must innovate and bet on the region”

August 29 2022

Anticipated purchases, cost reduction and expansion are part of this corporation’s strategy to overcome the global economic crisis.

Original Prensa Libre article by Estuardo Gasparico. Being relevant in the region, selling solutions and experience, and maintaining a leadership role are the current pillars of CMI Foods ambition to move forward in the midst of the global crisis and to continue growing in the region and in the United States. So says José Gregorio Baquero, CEO of CMI Foods, a Business Group of Corporación Multi Inversiones (CMI) in an interview with Prensa Libre.

What is the current situation of CMI Foods?

We are very enthusiastic and optimistic, because in recent years we have faced all the challenges arising from the pandemic; inflation, the crisis in Ukraine and problems with supplies, but we are growing and driving a lot of innovation, apart from seeking investments to ensure food security, provide welfare and generate employment, because if there is no investment, there is no work.

CMI Foods as such is about 100 years old since the founder started with a shop. For a long time, the companies were separate businesses, and what we’ve done over the last four years is create one food company.

This has allowed us to transform ourselves to be more efficient, besides being closer to the market, customers and consumers.

Jose Gregorio Baquero CEO de CMI Alimentos

What are the divisions of CMI Foods?

There are six, five of which we manage directly: the animal feed business, grains, industrial flours for bakery, corn flours, bakery solutions, which are pre-mixes for baking and everything someone needs to make a cake, etc.

The second is the livestock industry, in the areas of poultry, pork, sausages and frozen foods.

The third is food and consumer, which includes all grocery products such as crackers, pasta, pet food, sauces, oriental pastas, soups, and premixed flours in one-pound packages.

The fourth one is restaurants: Pollo Campero, Pollo Granjero, Don Pollo, Pollolandia, Casa de Pollo Rey, and we’re launching Pizza Siliciana and Pollo Ranchero. This business goes directly to the retail consumer.

The fifth is Pollo Campero in the United States, where we have more than 85 restaurants and an aggressive growth plan.

And the sixth business is called La Estancia, which is an investment platform that we have in Ecuador that is very similar to CMI Foods. We are also the majority owners of Alimentos Toledano in Panama.

In total, we have 40,000 employees in 16 countries, and we have our own operations in 11 of them.

Could you describe the group’s strategies for coping with more than two years of crisis?

There are several: first, a lot of innovation in products and processes, because growth must be pursued; digital advancement, new business models to enter other markets and focus on the base of the pyramid. We have also digitized a large part of our sales.

Another important aspect is that we have an area specialized in the purchase of grains and all supplies, where we apply a strategy of coverage of non-traditional markets.

We look for suppliers closer to us so that we can design the products in an optimal way and make early purchases to mitigate price increases, because we know that the delivery time of many suppliers has increased.

So, if we know that next year, we’re going to need supplies, equipment or whatever to open more Pollo Granjero or Campero, we order it a year and a half earlier.

Another thing we have done is to adjust inventories to prevent any supply failures. We have a service level indicator that must be above 95 percent and at this moment it is very complicated to achieve it, but we reached it.

In addition, we seek cost and expense efficiency everywhere because in the end it is the only way to deal with inflation, as well as being very close to the market and consumers through digital applications that have been very successful in the United States, and that we are bringing to Central America for Pollo Campero and the rest of CMI Food’s operations.

Each division of the group has its own market segments. Is there a cross-cutting strategy?

Each one has its peculiarity, but in itself, the strategies are transversal because they all contribute to the purpose of generating welfare for the community, customers, consumers, employees, shareholders, and all this is shared in all business units. We want to be relevant in the market, because we do not sell products, but food solutions and experience.

And the third strategy is to maintain behavioral leadership. Food businesses have very small margins, so we have to be very efficient.

What does CMI Foods recommend to Guatemalan companies?

Look to the future, continue to invest, innovate, do things differently, don’t be afraid and don’t be defeated by the problems of everyday life, because there is still a great opportunity for growth, to create new categories and businesses.

At CMI we have a combination of a “secret sauce” and that is that we are a family business in the region, so we focus on where we are and on treating people well, not seeing them as a number. Being local gives us the advantage of knowing the countries and thinking long term.

Apostar Región CMI José Gregorio Baquero Prensa Libre

Original article from Prensa Libre