Agriculture & Ingredients

Agriculture & Ingredients


Future-proofing firms in the Agriculture & Ingredients sector

The global agriculture, food and food ingredients industry is under enormous pressure to increase production to meet rising demand from a growing population and expanding wealthy middle class. At the same time, players along the entire value chain are facing volatile, uncertain market conditions.

woman choosing groceries with a basket in her hands

Agri-food businesses are being pushed to integrate more sustainable and efficient practices. Organizations must grapple with issues of growth, profitability, research and development, resource management, security of supply, value chain restructuring, energy utilization, and the impact of both digitalization and automation.

"We help you to shape the future of food."
Portrait of Alexander Belderok
Senior Partner
Amsterdam Office, Western Europe

Meanwhile, global leaders in the ingredients and flavor industries are at a critical turning point. On one hand, consumers and regulatory bodies are demanding higher health, safety, and sustainability standards; on the other, growing markets in emerging economies expect higher production volumes at low cost-in-use at an even faster pace as innovation and shorter product lifecycles alter market dynamics. How can agri-food suppliers comply with regulations, while still maintaining product quality and a competitive edge?

Your company must be prepared. Whatever your role in the agribusiness or ingredients value chain – be it producer, processer, or trader – there is one thing you can be sure of: there are exciting times ahead and now is the time to think and act.

Roland Berger has worked on strategic consulting projects for leading agriculture and ingredients companies across the world. We provide functional and industrial expertise as well as integrating our insights and benchmarks from regional presences in EMEA, North America, China, and South East Asia.

Whether strategy development, goal-setting, next-level technology, performance improvement, value chain restructuring, portfolio alignment, growth, M&A roadmap development or complexity management, we provide businesses with proven, customized solutions that nurture ideas into rewarding accomplishments.

Helping commodity businesses achieve profitable growth

Recent crises and long-term structural changes in food production are placing agriculture businesses under pressure. Internal challenges such as historically grown structures and management shortcomings are also increasing the need for performance improvement and business model transformation. Our work helps leading players in the agricultural commodity sector to do both in parallel. This means realizing performance improvements along the whole value chain, including restoring top line, optimizing operations, streamlining the organization, and securing financial stability, all while simultaneously shaping a sustainable business model, leveraging the circular economy, and building on a customer-centric, innovative growth strategy.

Achieving procurement excellence

Procurement as we once knew it has had its day: cost reduction is no longer the be all and end all. Agricultural companies must create resilient supply chain networks and embed sustainability and digitalization into operations and procurement. We help agricultural businesses to establish procurement as a key factor in their value creation. This means not only reducing the cost of products and services but also using operations and procurement to drive value for the organization.

Building winning strategies in food ingredients

Food is fundamental to our existence and ingredients are a critical component of what we eat. Increased demand for healthier food and natural ingredients as well as animal-free products is posing challenges for agriculture and beyond.

Solving these challenges is making value chains more complex from an application and sustainability perspective. Ingredient suppliers collaborate across the value chain to drive innovation and solve challenges for F&B manufacturers on key consumer needs. The ingredients sector has been a hotbed of M&A and investment in the recent past, with key players increasing their application, biotech, and sustainability capabilities.

Through our consulting, we support leading businesses in flavors, texturizers, biotech, spices, sweeteners, animal-based & alternative proteins, and nutritional ingredients to plan winning strategies, build future-proof capability toolkits, execute M&A and post-merger integrations, and design fit-for-purpose cost bases and operating models.

The rise of alternative proteins

Climate change and rising awareness around health and animal welfare mean we must find more sustainable ways to manage resources and meet our food demand. This is where the rapidly growing alternative protein sector comes into the picture. Increasing demand here goes beyond just vegetarians and vegans, with a growing number of “flexitarian” consumers.

The alternative protein space has evolved from pure plant-based options like soy, wheat, peas, oats, and canola to incorporate animal cell culture, fermentation, and insect-based foods, however high barriers must be overcome for scalability. Through our consulting, we support the alternative protein ecosystem, from start-/scale-ups to leading global players, on a wide range of topics including sourcing, overcoming scale barriers, commercialization, and M&A.

Fueling our food system with animal nutrition and aqua feed

Animal nutrition and aqua feed are essential for our nutritional system. Increasingly health- and environmentally conscious consumers are leading the feed industry to develop innovative nutritional solutions that make livestock farming and aquafeed more sustainable. The optimization of feed efficiency, animal health, and waste reduction are key focus areas. We provide organizations with the necessary support to develop robust strategies and transform their operating models to ensure success.

Shaping the future with regenerative agricultural practices

Conventional food production has taken a huge toll on our planet. Our food system is thought to be responsible for a third of global emissions, with agricultural activities and land-use-related emissions the largest contributors. More sustainable practices are vital and urgent.

Regenerative agriculture can play a crucial role in restoring soil health, biodiversity, climate, water, and farmer welfare, with a wide array of practices available. Through our extensive consulting experience, we help agriculture firms understand the complexity of the space, plan, set goals, and successfully embark on the path toward a greener future.

Unlocking technology to feed a growing population

Technology will be key to addressing the growing pressures identified here and unlocking sustainable farming practices to feed a growing population. End-consumers, retailers, and value chain dynamics are driving the uptake of high-tech controlled food production. With a growing population and limited resources, high-tech agriculture control systems seem inevitable to ensuring food security.

Two main systems currently dominate the controlled environment agriculture space for crops: high-tech greenhouses and vertical farms. They can help mitigate environmental impact, reduce food loss, and increase food security. We help organizations to better understand their growth drivers transitioning their business to more energy-efficient production methods.

How we helped other clients
A leading commodity firm taps into a new market

A leading global agri-food commodity player sought our help on entering the functional food ingredients market – an attractive downstream opportunity. Through a detailed analysis of the key trends, players, and dynamics shaping the ingredients industry, as well as the fit with the client’s current portfolio and capabilities, we identified new strategic directions, which supported valorization of the client’s current raw material streams in addition to attractive adjacent segments in food ingredients. We then formulated a “how to win” strategy for the company in each of the identified directions, including goals, organizational and implementation considerations and a high-level investment roadmap.

Growth strategy for a global biotech player

A leading biotech company came to us wanting to secure profitable growth in an environment where competition is increasing and innovation headspace is decreasing. Our experience and expertise enabled us to create a strategy to help our customer push into high-growth market segments. We also identified significant EBIT uplift over the next five years as well as key strategic M&A targets for transformational moves to position our client as a true biotech powerhouse.

Integrated strategy for a major animal feed business

A global animal feed business needed to develop a plan to become a profitable, cash-generating platform while responding to competitive pressures across species, products, and geographies. Our consulting work helped the client become a leader in animal nutritional solutions to farms, based on three business pillars and core capabilities. For each pillar, we defined the requirements to win and the necessary steps to reach this goal. Our work identified more than 10% revenue growth per year over five years, with strong EBITDA uplift.

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