(Interview): Kea & Partners on the need for transformation in agrifood

Christophe BURTIN, Senior Partner, and Mathieu DAUDE-LAGRAVE, Partner, are part of Kea&Partners, a sponsor of our last report on the State of Europe’s FoodTech. They answer our questions on why and how incumbent agrifood corporates should transform.

Kea & Partners is a strategy consulting firm, with 500 consultants and 15 offices worldwide.

What makes agribusinesses and retailers transformation so important?
The main focus of our consultancy is the transformation of tradition companies, notably in agri-food businesses. This transformation is now more important than ever. Indeed, we are living on the remains of an old model that is at the end of its rope. A shift in paradigm is needed at many levels in these big corporations.

How can startups help toward this transformation?
Startups bring a great benefit: they know (and can) take risks. One of the most notable ways they do so is by moving away from internal procedures and traditional rules of the market they want to operate in. Startups have, therefore, the potential to be elements of change in traditional companies.

Traditional companies have to figure out how startups can help this change in a positive way, by taking equity, acquisitions or cooperations. One of the first steps is for corporates to move away from a model organised to kill these innovative structures to one that nurtures them. Corporates can bring insights on how to industrialise, validate concepts and help to bring products to the market. Startups most valuable assets may be intangible, as they bring new ways to listen to the market and to operate fast. In the long run, corporates should aim at producing (at least partially) these innovations internally, through intrapreneurship.

Is there a recipe for a successful transformation?
Unfortunately, there is no “magic recipe”. Corporates shall understand their need of transformation for their model. A first step is to understand its environment and the trends shaping it, hence this report. Then, corporates should move toward a strategic review of all the tools available and identify those matching their means, culture and goals.


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