Del Monte®: A Brand that Relies on the Earth, Gives Back to the Earth through its Process Strategy

In our previous blog on Oishi®, we covered the sixth P which is process and discussed this brand’s brilliant process strategy which it has dubbed the ‘The Good Chef’.

Oishi® has consistently implemented this strategy in its various markets across the world. We learned how this food market leader applied this very simple but very effective framework in delivering consistent and world-class quality for its wide range of packaged snack products.

For me, ‘process strategy‘ is like a secret weapon of a brand. It’s usually not visible to the brand’s consumers and the brand’s competitors. This critical pillar of the brand architecture usually happens ‘behind the scenes’. And as such, it is hard for its competitors to copy or replicate. Initiatives like training, procedures, quality assurance, recruitment, sourcing of materials, operations manual, product development, and more, all form part of process.

What is visible to the consumer or to the competitor is the brand’s quality that comes out at the end of the process.

The quality of the product or service of the brand is largely contingent upon the quality of the process that the product or service had to go through. Therefore, it should very much be in the interest of the brand owner to ensure that this sixth P in its brand architecture is fully and thoroughly aligned with the rest of the marketing mix in order to deliver the desired brand strategy and brand identity.

For example, if a brand is positioned to be a high-end luxury service catering to high net worth individuals, the brand owner’s recruitment and training processes need to be several notches higher vis-a-vis a brand whose service caters to less discerning customers.

In Singapore Airlines, the uniform colors indicate the level of seniority and service levels delivered.

This is also the reason why the more senior and more advanced flight attendants are assigned in the First-Class section of the plane, while the more junior and less experienced ones are assigned in the Economy section. The various processes of airlines are all aligned to deliver the right level of quality to the right type of customers. In Singapore Airlines®, their uniforms are color-coded to signal the different levels of services delivered by their processes.

If the brand’s process strategies are not aligned with the rest of the mix, the whole brand architecture will collapse, resulting to poor and inconsistent quality of products and services, and ultimately unsatisfied and non-repeat customers.

In this blog, we revisit this critical pillar of process strategy. This time, we learn more about this through this brilliant global food brand which was founded in California, USA, and is now headquartered in the Philippines.

I am referring to the 135-year old leading food brand Del Monte®, founded in 1886 in San Francisco, California in the USA. It’s long history has seen several changes in ownership leading up to the current owner which is NutriAsia Pacific Limited based in the Philippines.

Del Monte® is a brand that relies heavily on nature and the earth.

Sustainability in Business

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Native American Proverb

For a brand that heavily relies on nature for its produce, Del Monte® has invested substantially on its sustainability initiatives which are foundational to its overall process strategy.

Therefore, before we talk about Del Monte®, let’s learn more about sustainability in business.

What is sustainability in business?

The Harvard Business School provides a straightforward explanation:

“Sustainability in business refers to the effect companies have on the environment or society.

A sustainable business strategy aims to positively impact one or both of those areas, thereby helping address some of the world’s most pressing problems. 

Some of the global issues that sustainable business strategies help to address include:

  • Climate change
  • Income inequality
  • Depletion of natural resources
  • Human rights issues
  • Fair working conditions
  • Pollution
  • Racial injustice
  • Gender inequality”

Nourishing Families. Enriching Lives. Every Day.

In the case of Del Monte®, sustainability is central and core to its process strategy which is in support of its overall vision which is ‘Nourishing Families. Enriching Lives. Every Day’.

In its Sustainability Report for FY2021 dubbed ‘Sustaining our Future’, the brand introduces the report by saying:

“Sustaining our Future is growing healthier produce, healthier people and a healthier planet. The resilience of our consumer, colleagues and communities sustains the grown of the Company. Del Monte invests in the present to sustain the future.”

In the above introduction, the brand clearly outlines its priorities in terms of sustainability, namely: (1) Healthier Produce, (2) Healthier People, and (3) Healthier Planet. And in order to achieve this, the brand has organized its numerous process strategies across six key pillars including:

  • Nourishing consumers
  • Nurturing employees
  • Developing communities
  • Preserving nature
  • Strengthening governance, and
  • Sustaining growth

The brand has pursued a number of process strategy initiatives based on the above six key pillars which are available in the report.

In this blog, we will focus primarily on Del Monte®‘s processes that help preserve nature. Here we will highlight three notable examples.

Preserving Nature

Why is it important for businesses to do its share in preserving nature?

The goal of preservation is to protect the environment from the harmful effects of human activity. Over the past two hundred odd years, the number of humans have increased from around one billion in the early 1800s to almost eight billion today. And an increase in the global population only means a greater demand for water, food, lumber, and other resources that come from natural environments.

Therefore, demand for consumer products, especially plant-based products like those of Del Monte®, are expected to also increase over time which means, if left unchecked, the production activities of this brand can have long-term harmful repercussions on nature.

In view of this, the brand seems to be cognizant of its corporate responsibility to help preserve nature which is reflected in the many sustainability efforts they have done over the past decades.

Amongst its long list of preservation initiatives, I have found the following examples to be noteworthy:

Drip Irrigation

In terms of ‘Preserving Nature’, the brand’s ‘land-use practices have been mainly aimed at improving plantation yield through ecologically friendly land preparation, use of sustainable planting materials, plant disease management, chemical application, and efficient water sourcing and drainage,’ according to its website.

The brand’s tomato processing facility in Hanford, California has been set-up to be only fifty miles away from tomato growers who are using drip irrigation 100% of the time.

What is ‘drip irrigation’?

According to irrigation firm Netafim: “Drip irrigation is the most efficient water and nutrient delivery system for growing crops. It delivers water and nutrients directly to the plant’s roots zone, in the right amounts, at the right time, so each plant gets exactly what it needs, when it needs it, to grow optimally. Thanks to drip irrigation, farmers can produce higher yields while saving on water as well as fertilizers, energy and even crop protection products.” (see Netafim’s demo video below).

Drip Irrigation is integral to Del Monte’s tomato growers.

Del Monte® has fully integrated drip integration into its tomato sourcing process, thereby saving on water, energy, fertilizers and more.

Solar Energy

The same plant of Del Monte® in Hanford, California has installed around 6,400 solar panels covering 37 square kilometers and producing 1.2 MegaWatts of electricity which is more than 8% of its total electricity requirements during non-pack season.

With this installation, the brand has reduced its reliance on fossil fuel energy, has reduced air pollution, and also decreased its contribution to overall global warming.

Protecting Insect Pollinators

What is pollination and what are insect pollinators?

Bees form a large part of nature’s pollinators.

Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. The goal of every living organism, including plants, is to create offspring for the next generation. Flowers are the tools that plants use to make their seeds. According to the Knowledge Project website: “(Around 75%) of flowering plants require an animal pollinator. There are over 200,000 species of animal pollinators and the vast majority of these are insects. Insect pollinators include beetles, flies, ants, moths, butterflies, bumble bees, honey bees, solitary bees, and wasps.”

Two of the greatest threats to pollinators are habitat loss and insecticides.

To combat these threats, Del Monte® has designated more than twenty five percent of its land (equivalent to around 10,000 hectares) as protected forests throughout its owned farms. In addition to this, according to the brand’s CSR report: “In 2020, we set the goal to phase out all neonicotinoid and chlorpyrifos insecticides throughout our owned pineapple operations. All our owned pineapple production in Latin America and Kenya are now free of neonicotinoid, and our owned banana farms in Latin America are free of chlorpyrifos. We are aiming to fully reach our goal throughout our owned pineapple operations globally by the end of 2021, and in all our owned banana operations by June 2022.”

These three examples are just a few of the long list of process strategies that the brand has employed during its over 100-year history which have all contributed to how Del Monte® is positioned today: ‘Nourishing Families. Enriching Lives’. It will be noted that these are not quick-fixes or short-term projects. But rather, these have been designed and implemented with the long-term view in mind.

Today, the Del Monte® is the flagship brand of the US$1.5billion global food holding company Del Monte Pacific Limited (DMPL) with manufacturing facilities in the Philippines (global headquarters), USA, India and Latin America.

The brand has reaped multiple international certifications and awards related to environmental sustainability including:

Del Monte’s pineapple plantation in the Philippines is Global Good Agriculture Practices (GLOBALG.AP) certified.
  • The brand’s pineapple plantation in the Philippines is Global Good Agricultural Practices (GLOBALG.A.P.) certified.
  • It was honoured as one of eight finalists among 14 countries for “Asia’s Best First Time Sustainability Report” at the 4th Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards in Singapore
  • It was recognized for the 8th time as a Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® Role Model by Produce for Better Health Foundation in the USA 
  • Its Headquarter and Research Center in the USA are certified Bay Area Green Business while headquarter in the Philippines has an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification from the US Green Building Council
  • Its Walnut Creek Research Center in California won:
    • Bronze Excellence Award for the Recycle Smart Food Recovery Project
    • Wastewater Excellence from Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, California
  • Its Plover, Wisconsin plant and Wisconsin Farms Shop got the Safety Award from the Midwest Food Processor Association
  • And much more.

This brilliant brand leaves us with some key lessons with respect to ‘process strategy’:

  1. First, there are numerous opportunities for a brand to develop robust process strategies that support its brand positioning which are hard to replicate by its competitors.
  2. Second, process strategies form part of a brand’s secret arsenal in ensuring longevity and competitiveness.
  3. And third, brands which develop and nurture comprehensive process strategies are building for themselves strong fortifications around its architecture which enable it to secure and grow its share of market and overall brand value.

You can indicate your reason for choosing ‘Nohere.

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