Business Cases


The “Food Business” series offer cases that set the stage for discussions about the high level strategic decisions facing executives of the food industry.  This collection of business cases focuses on strategy, food innovation, entrepreneurship and food marketing topics, with a special emphasis on business model innovation and digital transformation. Cases feature European, North American and Asian companies. In the classroom, these cases provide contextual background, connect theory with application, and develop insights.

Author: Pr. Richard C. Delerins

Subjects: Expansion, Corporate Strategy, Branding and Narratives, Marketing, Diversification, Innovation, Strategy, Competition, Competitive strategy, 

Industry: Dairy, Cheese, Snacking, FMCG

Learning Objective: To understand the inner workings of one of the top dairy companies in the world, readjusting to the changing perception of dairy and consumer preferences. Subsequently, utilizing the learnings towards analyzing the expansion, diversification and innovation opportunities in new, culturally challenging geographies. 

Pub Date: 15 April 2021
Discipline: Marketing, Consumer behavior
Geography:  France, India and China 

Length: 21 pages 

“Say Cheese”: Bel & the Laughing Cow Conquer the World
Building a (French) Cheese brand in India and China 

Bel was set up in 1865 as a Comté cheese ripening and trading business in France’s Jura region which transformed into Fromageries Bel in 1922. Just before that, in 1921, Léon Bel and team produced and trademarked “La Vache qui rit” (The Laughing Cow), the cheese brand recognized for its original recipe, soft texture, and most importantly, the individual portion presentation. Today the group has 5 core brands that are sold on every continent (including big names such as Babybel, Kiri & Boursin) and 25 other brands enjoyed regionally by the consumers. After 42 years of not launching any new brand, the group came up with a 100% organic brand: Le Fromage de Margot to cater to the changing consumer preferences for more natural products. Bel is guided by its mission, ‘Champion healthier and responsible food for all’ in order to build positive brands & accelerate innovation. Apart from serving the end consumer, Bel also has a catering business for institutional & commercial catering as well as an intermediary food products business which sells cheeses to industry players and fast-food chains. Bel’s individual portion size has been its USP for decades and owing to today’s busy, onthe-go lifestyles where snacking is the new normal, Bel’s cheeses are highly appreciated by all categories of consumers including nutritionists. The format also allows to reduce food wastage & limit overconsumption. The group has always been clever and witty in advertising and creating a connection with the consumer. The first ever Laughing Cow logo was considered bold and audacious for its time. Today the group keeps their communication game up by actively engaging with consumers on social media and through their online platform, Ribambel. Their priorities have begun to shift with time and currently the focus is increasingly being put on end-to-end environmental sustainability. Lactalis is the group’s biggest international competitor but they have strong competition from country as well as region specific players such as Président, Galbani, Kraft, Sargento, Amul to name a few. The group has a strong presence in Europe and the Americas and is gradually conquering Africa and Middle Feast. In Asia Pacific, Japan is a notable market where Kiri is a staple in the consumers diets and Vietnam was chosen as the strategic location to expand in South East Asia. Now, the group seeks to become a household name in China and India, both markets with a promising but complicated dairy consuming population. In India where milk and its products have a significance beyond alimentation and the product itself is heavily political, the brand needs to tread lightly but firmly. On the other hand, China which is traditionally not considered a dairy consuming or appreciating market, has seen considerable changes in consumer attitudes towards dairy but presents a challenging political climate. How would Bel navigate these new markets and enhance their presence in these new territories? 

Author: Pr. Richard C. Delerins

Topics: Biotech, Changing Consumer Preferences, Branding and Narratives, Research and Development, Marketing, Product Innovation, Expansion, Strategy, Competition, Competitive strategy

Industry: Food tech, Cooking aid products (Yeast), Food Ingredients, Plant Based food, Biotechnology 

Learning Objective: To analyze new opportunities for understanding and connecting with the 21st century food consumer while transitioning from a B2B company to a B2B2C company with focus on evaluation of rebranding strategies, competition and new product innovation. 

Pub Date: 25 March 2021
Geography: France and Global

Discipline: Marketing, Innovation, Consumer behavior
Length: 23 pages

“360° of Taste”: BioSpringer by Lesaffre 

From a Family Breadmaking House to a Global Biotech Champion 

Lesaffre was created more than 160 years ago (1853) as a grain and gin distillery that entered the baker’s yeast business in the 1870s. Around the same time Springer was booming in the yeast business and started its operations in France. After competing and collaborating for several years, Springer finally joined the Lesaffre family in 1972 under their ‘Food Taste and Pleasure’ business sector as Biospringer. Today, Lesaffre and Biospringer both have a global presence and 1 in 3 breads in the world are made with Lesaffre’s yeast. With a mission to create innovative and natural origin ingredients from yeast fermentation that make food tastier and healthier while being reliable and respectful of the planet and people, Biospringer came up with ‘We Create Responsible Taste’, its corporate campaign and guiding principle. Yeast, the product in question, has organoleptic properties, is vegan and 100% natural, non-GMO, Halal and Kosher certified and last but not the least, high in nutrition, allowing it to be a catalyst in food innovation and adding value to changing consumer diets. Identifying these characteristics of yeast using its own and Lesaffre’s R&D and decades of know-how, Biospringer offers a range of products catering to different usages such as sugar/salt/fat reduction, masking off-notes, enhancing aromas/tastes to list a few. They have been able to customize their offering to their clients and support them in new product development through their services such as Culinary Centers and Sensory Analysis Laboratories. Biospringer’s clients are spread across the food industry as they serve food processing companies, FMCG companies, flavorists, blenders etc. but the end consumer hardly knows about the brand. As fermentation makes a comeback and consumers all over the world seek healthier, more environmentally conscious products and brands, yeast plays an indispensable role in the future of food. However, Biospringer faces certain challenges that need to be addressed to remain at the top of the culinary yeast game. As new technologies like gene-editing gradually become a common industry tool and the end consumer’s preferences continue to shape the industry, creating and communicating true value becomes vital to Biospringer’s progress.

Author: Pr. Frédéric Oble

Topics:  Changing Consumer Preferences, Customer Preferences, CSR Strategy, Purchasing, Marketing, Product Innovation, Strategy, Competition, Competitive strategy

Industry: Restaurant, Food Service, Retailer

Learning Objective: To analyze new opportunities for understanding and connecting with the 21st century food consumer and customers (restaurants) while moving toward sustainability.

Pub Date: 30 April 2021
Geography: France

Discipline: Marketing, Operations, Innovation
Length: 22 pages

Making My restaurant Sustainable" 

A Way to Develop New Customer Services for METRO France

With a total of 6.7 billion meals served per year, the food service industry in France is an essential market for the country’s agricultural and food sectors. (Source: Agence Bio 2017). In addition, it can be a powerful catalyst for the ecological transition of the agricultural and agri-food sectors. 

Thanks to numerous public nutrition campaigns (e.g., PNNS, the French national nutrition and health program), etc. digital tool (e.g., digital scans), consumers are better informed and pay close attention to the origin of their products, as well as the relationship between food and health. At the same time, society yearns for instant gratification, and the “food porn” posted on social media promotes a very epicurean image of food. The food service industry, is also trapped in these societal paradoxes, torn between the need to satisfy a clientele who want pleasure on a plate, and the social pressure for physical fitness, for greater sustainability and for well-being through food. 

METRO, a B2B distribution platform for restaurant professionals, is the leading supplier to independent restaurants. Over and above the distribution of products (food and non-food), METRO supports its customers in their development and transformation, to help them become more efficient. In this context, METRO France has developed a program called “Mon restaurant passe au durable” (hereinafter referred to as MRPD), which translates as “Making my restaurant sustainable”, to help its customers implement an environmental, economic and social transition. This program offers restaurateurs a number of strategic levers and best practices. In order to meet the expectations of its customers, METRO must understand those of their end consumers. Therefore, it cannot limit itself to being a simple B2B platform, and has to move towards a B2B2C offering. This will enable METRO to improve how they address the needs of its customers.