Became an Innovation Hub

Francisco Fuente, manager of the company in the country, said that the local brands Vital and Artesano represent annual sales of more than US$500 million.

Although the pandemic has changed many consumption habits, traditional brands such as Bimbo are still committed to staying present on Colombian tables, thanks to their innovation model, which includes new product developments.

In an interview with Portafolio, Francisco Fuente, general manager of Bimbo Colombia, spoke about how the local Vital and Artesano lines have fared in the countries where they are sold. On the other hand, he highlighted the impact of inflation on inputs.

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What is the balance that you can make of the operations in this first quarter?

It is a positive balance and I do not only want to refer to this first quarter, I also want to highlight the work that we have been carrying out in the last three years. We have been growing at a double-digit rate in Colombia and this is leveraged by the good performance of our brands and products.

It should be noted that these good results of Grupo Bimbo are not only in this country, but globally, which allows us to ratify our purpose, which is to feed a better world. We continue with our projects and business plans, which are not only focused on growing the company’s income, but also on growing in terms of technology and employment.

How has the company fared with the economic recovery?

Our mission is to deliver delicious and nutritious products, that is the north. So this reactivation that the different sectors have had, such as the return of boys and girls to schools; the reopening of many food chains, restaurants, and hotels is allowing us to meet that goal.

We are in that reactivation and we continue to accompany that recovery of Colombia.

How have they been dodging inflation and the rise in raw materials?

This is a global issue that affects different geographies, and it has been a challenge for the company to rearrange our portfolio. We have to look at those supplies that have become more expensive in how we transform them into better products to continue serving our consumers.

So, we have a broad portfolio that has had to be balanced so that the transformation of these ingredients allows us to have delicious products with the highest quality and that allows us to be competitive with our consumers. Likewise, it has also been a job of managing our expenses and having better productivity.

How has Bimbo’s innovation work been?

Bimbo Colombia has become an innovation hub, not only for the region, but for the entire Bimbo Group. And we have done this with national talent, managing to develop successful brands that today have a global reach, such as Vital and Artesano products, which today represent annual sales of more than US$500 million in more than 20 countries where they are present.

These brands were developed here in Colombia and the truth is that we are proud to say it, we have managed to make an impact with these products in other geographies where the Group has a presence.

What has been the process of creating new products?

In recent years, we have strengthened our innovation model, generating actions that allow us to understand the needs of our consumers. This model has different stages: first it is the understanding, then it is passed to the test in the laboratories that we have in Colombia, then the product is reached, so that in the end a panel of consumers tests these developments; It is at this stage where the product is validated so that it can be taken to a production line.

We recently released the Pa’ Mi Gente brand, that line is a local development with Colombian tastes and flavors such as compost bread, arepas, and that have all the potential to reach other countries.

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How has the consumer changed?

Without a doubt there was an impact after the pandemic, the consumer got used to preparing their products at home, eating healthier and we were able to understand those needs and we have products that favor this new way of eating. For example, we have a frozen line that is Bimbo del Hogar, this brand was born with the pandemic because our consumers in confinement wanted freshly baked bread.

Are new releases coming?

Yes, innovation represents 10% of our sales and it seems like a smaller number, but it is not. For Bimbo, innovation is in the DNA. We will continue working on our innovation model to strengthen brands. For example, we recently presented the 0% fat and 0% sugar tortilla, which is very important for consumers.

Reviewer overview

Bimbo Colombia Became an Innovation Hub - /10

Summary

Francisco Fuente, manager of the company in the country, said that the local brands Vital and Artesano represent annual sales of more than US$500 million.

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