Kraft Heinz: A Recipe For Success In Asia-Pacific

The American food company’s plans for growth come on the back of its rising market share in the region and new products to appeal to local tastes.
Joao Leitao, Managing Director of ASEAN, India, Hong Kong and APAC Exports

Already one of the world’s leading food companies, Kraft Heinz is expanding its business in Southeast Asia and India to realize its long-term vision of becoming “The Best Food Company, Growing a Better World.” Kraft Heinz products have graced dining tables for more than 150 years.

Joao Leitao, Managing Director of ASEAN, India, Hong Kong and APAC Exports—the business unit established to drive expansion in the region—shares the company’s plans.

What are your goals for the region?

Our business unit was set up to achieve annual double-digit growth in Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan. On top of that, we are also responsible for exporting our portfolio of authentic Asian brands to the U.S., Europe and other geographies globally.

Apart from the flagship Heinz and Kraft offerings, the company is also responsible for other market-leading brands in the region, including Lea & Perrins, A1 sauce, Australia’s Golden Circle and New Zealand’s bestselling Watties brands.

Our goal is to be the fastest-growing FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) company in the region, and we also aspire to be the fastest-growing business unit in Kraft Heinz.

Why has Kraft Heinz decided to expand in the region?

The food Industry has been continually growing, especially in the so-called Kitchen of the World, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. These markets each have their own characteristics, so in 2019, we launched relevant products in top categories that are relevant to the local palate, such as authentic Asian sauces like Heinz Oyster Sauce in Thailand and ABC Soy Sauce in Malaysia.

What are some of your key markets in the region?

Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia are our current core markets, while India, the Philippines and Vietnam are the fast-growing markets in our portfolio. We have great plans for the whole region.

In Thailand, for example, the company is aiming to become a “top-of-mind brand” for Thai consumers through key products such as Heinz ketchup and Heinz Oyster, which has garnered sizable market share, with steady year-on-year growth.

What do you view as your company’s key success factor?

People are the key factor to our success. We have rigorous selection processes to identify the right owners to join us, and we invest heavily in our talent pool.

We also foster transparency and trust between the employees—and it all starts with the environment we built. We brought the entire team into the center of the office in an open environment. That way information flows easily and we ensure that we have a flat organization, which we believe is one of the key factors for us to grow further. We have a startup environment with the unique advantage of being backed by a strong brand with significant resources.

How has Kraft Heinz built diversity into the organization?

An important part of the company’s strategy is fostering diversity among its teams by ensuring a robust mix of talent from different nationalities, genders and experiences. Reflecting this commitment, we have a higher ratio of female leaders in senior management positions in our region.

We strive to create a work environment that encourages people in the organization to have respect for others and to work together regardless of their differences. We believe this unique corporate culture is the secret ingredient that can help us succeed.

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