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Brandon Vallejo

PANAMA - Industry

Drink Your Milkshake

CEO, Estrella Azul


Brandon Vallejo has 20 years of experience in the consumer goods industry, especially in dairy product elaboration in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, the US, and Panama. Thanks to his practical approach and focus on impact, combined with his solid knowledge of the Andean region, his strong leadership capabilities, his teamwork, and his communication skills, Brandon has successfully managed a number of financial, strategic, operational, administrative, and commercial areas, focusing on problem solving and project development. Since November 2015, Brandon has been the CEO of Estrella Azul.

In which segment does the company have the most consolidated position? We have a total market share of 29% consolidated across our entire portfolio. We have an extremely strong position […]

In which segment does the company have the most consolidated position?

We have a total market share of 29% consolidated across our entire portfolio. We have an extremely strong position in the cold juice segment, where we own 80% of the market. In the cold milk segment, we currently own 70% of the market share. As for ice creams, we own 65% of the market share. We own 10% of the market share in the UHT segment, 15-20% in juices, 25% in yogurts, and 6% in cheeses. Our two main strategies are to maintain our leadership in all cold segments and ensure that we are the first choice for consumers and sellers. We currently reach 7,500 stores, and we must continue working with this same focus, as the cold product segment is one of great potential in Panama. We see opportunities to improve in areas such as yogurts and in-store selling. We plan to invest during 2016 in the yogurt segment and to expand coverage in the ice cream segment, as this is a market segment with a lot of potential; the 6-7 liters of ice cream consumed per capita every year in Panama is extremely high. This is why we need to focus on implementing innovative actions that generate added value.

What potential do you see for Panama to become a regional food hub?

There is great potential and we need to focus the efforts of the entire value chain on this goal. Panama enjoys a great geographic location and that competitive advantage can be taken further with collaborative development of infrastructure and efficient logistics to capture all of the potential benefits. We have seen that the government has taken positive steps with local producers and is set to continue with players from the agroindustry. Our focus is on investing and innovating, which is important in this industry. We want to further consolidate our products, activities, and brand in Panama, which is a country with one of the most appealing growth levels in the entire region. Our expectations are to consolidate our activities in Panama and generate more value for our clients and consumers. This also means introducing new products, adding greater value, and applying more innovation. Our priority now is the local market, where Estrella Azul enjoys a strong position and is the leading brand for dairy products.

What trends can you identify in the Panamanian market?

We see that nowadays we have more knowledgeable consumers; people are well informed and look after themselves much more than in the past. People today look more in detail at the ingredients and nutrients within products, which is why we are boosting our investment in innovation. We are currently offering a broad portfolio of high-quality dairy products to satisfy the nutritional needs of the thousands of consumers that choose Estrella Azul every day. Another emerging pattern is one we have witnessed in the milk collection and distribution channels. Panama produces an average of 200 million liters of milk a year, and every year we buy 50 million liters from local 300 farmers. Panama has the highest milk prices of any Latin American country, at around $0.65 per liter. We are currently working together with our suppliers and the government to make this sector a profitable one for all actors involved in the production chain, from producers to retailers. Since I took over this position in the company, I have personally overseen action to generate value in the industry. However, we need to invest more in the research of animal genetics and properties of the local soil. We need happy cows that produce around 25l to 30l a day. This is one of the main challenges the sector faces, and the private sector needs to work with authorities for the implementation of long-term initiatives that establish a common vision for the entire sector.



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