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Patrick O. Stillhart



With over 25 years’ experience in general management, operations, sales, marketing and new market development, Patrick O. Stillhart is well- versed in implementing commercial business strategies across the board. He has held various managerial and executive positions within global conglomerates, leading major FMCG businesses and divisions in Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Before joining SADAFCO, Stillhart led DKSH’s Consumer Goods business in Southeast-Asia and Oceania, where he doubled the company’s size in three years, tripled the profit while improving the cash flow threefold. During his time at Cereal Partners Worldwide, he accelerated growth in existing markets by driving household penetration, launching new products, and entering new countries. At Nestle, he held several executive positions worldwide, from Nestle Indonesia, to the Middle East and Switzerland. Serving as a board member of various FMCG companies in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, his growth-driven and result-focused strategic advisory has helped many businesses achieve operational excellence and their strategic objectives. He believes in becoming a change agent as he helps businesses grow while positively influencing society and the environment they are operating in. He holds an MBA in Marketing from St. Gallen, Switzerland. He speaks German, English, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesian, and French.

"SADAFCO is an institution in Saudi Arabia with a history stretching back several decades."
TBY talks to Patrick O. Stillhart, CEO of SADAFCO, about
SADAFCO has a rich history in Saudi Arabia, producing dairy and food products for several decades. Can you provide an overview of the company and the latest highlights it has achieved?

SADAFCO is an institution in Saudi Arabia with a history stretching back several decades. It also has a prominent position in the dairy and food production industry regionally. Renowned for its unwavering commitment to quality, we boast a diverse product portfolio that includes dairy, tomato paste products, and ice cream. Today, we are actively exploring ways to further enrich our offerings in response to our consumers’ evolving needs. A recent example is Saudia by Mezete, a new ambient food range including hummus, baba ghanouj, tahini sauce and a new innovation, koshna. This was conceived to serve the growing number of Saudis who still love to prepare their favorite dishes at home but demand high-quality products to make the cooking experience quicker and more convenient. The new range, which went on sale at the beginning of November, aligns perfectly with our dedication to the three pillars of convenience, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

Saudi Arabia has been actively promoting the localization of industries as part of its Vision 2030 program. How is SADAFCO contributing to the localization effort, and what are the key benefits of producing food products locally?

SADAFCO is mainly supporting economic localization in Saudi Arabia in two ways. Firstly, we produce most of our portfolio, including milk products, ice cream, tomato paste and snacks, domestically. This makes obvious business sense as the majority of our consumers live in Saudi Arabia. The added advantage is that it shortens our supply chains, reduces import costs, creates jobs and stimulates activity elsewhere in the Kingdom. We are committed to increasing our contribution to national food security in the future. In addition to producing more finished goods ourselves, we are eager to support those local industries supplying our raw materials, packaging and provided other vital ancillary services. All these measures enhance supply chain resilience in the event of unforeseen disruptions internationally. Our diversification strategy will continue to prioritize the risk-free supply of products to our customers and consumers. The second way we support localization is through being an ideal employer. Our commitment to gender diversity is one of the best examples of this. We have pledged that women will constitute half of our entire workforce by 2030, up from around a tenth today. This is a significant undertaking for a company as large as SADAFCO, which currently employs around 3,000 people of various nationalities. Nevertheless, it is one we are determined to achieve, through the rigorous application of world-class human resources standards. Talent development is fundamental to being an ideal employer, both of our existing staff and school leavers and college graduates. We are particularly proud of our Falcon Program, which is a carefully structured induction program for the new graduates we hire each year. We have also been offering summer internships for many years. These allow young Saudis to gain valuable hands-on work experience while completing their academic studies. Delivering on Vision 2030 also demands that we encourage all employees to develop a strong sense of social responsibility. It is for this reason that we invest heavily in community programs. For example, we recently organized a street cleaning campaign all the way from Jeddah to Makkah. We also support the personal community projects of our staff – all in the spirit of being the best possible corporate citizen we can be and setting a positive example to others.

SADAFCO has a diverse product portfolio, including dairy, juices, and ice cream. Could you share some insights into the process of developing and manufacturing these products locally?

We develop our products in close collaboration with our marketing and R&D teams. Based on powerful insights into evolving consumer needs, these new products are key enablers of our future growth. The production process involves a variety of steps, the main ones being ingredient sourcing, liquid mixing, processing, filling and packing. Each step is carefully monitored by the latest equipment and our highly skilled teams carry out quality checks. All our factories are equipped with their own laboratory and are ISO 22000 certified.

Could you provide an overview of the company’s recent production highlights?

One of the most recent highlights would be the opening of our new ice cream plant in Jeddah, which will help us to meet the growing demand for our products in the city and the rest of the Kingdom. At SADAFCO, we are always adopting the latest technology, whether for processing equipment, fillers or further downstream automation. Our fully automated warehouses in Jeddah and Riyadh are shining examples of our success in supply chain optimization. With sustainability an increasing priority, we are also constantly looking for new ways to improve our environmental performance. One recent achievement was a significant reduction in water consumption at our milk factory. To control and plan our end-to-end supply chain, we have invested in digital solutions to manage material flows as seamlessly as possible, from our suppliers to our factories and to our customers.

How would you assess the company’s performance in 2023 and what specific segments/products are currently driving your growth?

I am pleased to report that 2023 has been another year of healthy growth and strategic evolution, reinforcing our position as the leading food manufacturer, distributor and seller in Saudi Arabia. We have recorded increased revenue and profitability, which is a testament to my team’s dedication and their adaptability to navigate changing market dynamics. We have expanded our presence in both core and new markets, illustrating the effectiveness of our marketing and the improvements we have made in our distribution networks. Innovation has remained key, driving the introduction of new and enhanced products in response to the evolving needs of our customers, such as our new Saudia by Mezete ambient food range. This year SADAFCO was ranked in the inaugural Fortune 500 Arabia list of the Arab world’s most successful companies, further evidence of our success as a proud Saudi Arabia company.

SADAFCO’s commitment to quality is well-known. Can you tell us about the quality standards and practices that ensure that products made in Saudi Arabia meet the highest standards and are competitive not only in the local market but also in the regional one?

SADAFCO applies the strictest quality standards to safeguard the health, well-being and satisfaction of its consumers, the core of which is our Quality Management System (QMS). Our comprehensive quality assurance policies involve continuously monitoring consumer feedback and training our people, always looking for areas of improvement, and actively studying the market to ensure our products meet, and ideally exceed, consumer expectations. In addition to ISO certifications, we also hold all the required halal standards.

SADAFCO’s sustainability initiatives are aligned with Saudi Arabia’s goals for a more sustainable future: how does the company balance sustainability with growth?

We are implementing a range of initiatives to reach our ambitious sustainability targets. For example, we have installed solar panels on our warehouse roof in Jeddah. This practical step has reduced the facility’s electricity consumption by as much as 40 per cent. It also shows the younger generation, for whom environmental responsibility is an increasingly important issue, that we are doing the right thing. These days, Saudi youth are more likely to choose brands that care about sustainability. As a publicly listed corporation and Fortune 500 Arabia company, we want to minimize our environmental impacts, reducing costs and enhancing returns for our shareholders. As a corporate citizen, we want to reassure all our stakeholders that we are a model company. In turn, we are actively contributing to the development of Saudi Arabia’s circular economy and the realization of its 2060 net zero strategy.

As a leader in the food and beverage industry in Saudi Arabia, how do you see the future of “Made in Saudi” products evolving, and what role does SADAFCO aim to play in shaping that future?

Positioned as we are at the vanguard of Saudi Arabia’s food and beverage industry, SADAFCO will continue to play a leading role in strengthening Saudi Arabia’s manufacturing base. Producing more of what the country needs locally is central to the diversification strategy underpinning Vision 2030. This depends on a combination of policies and incentives, as well as a closer cooperation between the government and private sectors. It requires investment in infrastructure, the adoption of the latest technology, advances in training and education, improved access to finance, and regulations making it easier to do business in Saudi Arabia. We also need closer alignment with the global economy in terms of standards and processes, to attract inward investment and export more of our locally made goods. Under the guidance of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Arabia is making rapid advances in all of these critical areas. This is turn is inspiring companies like SADAFCO, today a publicly corporation and Fortune 500 Arabia company, to raise standards and set more ambitious targets. As Saudi Arabia’s leading food manufacturer, distributor and seller, we are committed to serving Saudi consumers long into the future, making more products designed especially for Saudi consumers here in Saudi Arabia. National pride is high in Saudi Arabia and accordingly, most of our products at SADAFCO are Saudi-made. Our SAUDI MADE stamp reassures our consumers that our products are manufactured locally and potentially opens the door for us to export them to regional and international markets.

Can you share with our readers your main targets and goals set in your 2024 agenda?

We are committed to strengthening our presence in existing markets while exploring new opportunities. We aim to sustain the positive momentum we have achieved this year, maintaining our revenue growth while improving the sustainability of our operations. We will continue to innovate in product development and unlock further operational efficiencies as a modern, progressive and agile organization. We will deepen our engagement with the local community as a proudly Saudi Arabian company. Most importantly, we will champion the development and safeguard the well-being of our employees, who remain the bedrock of our company and our strongest brand ambassadors. We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and steadfast in our commitment to deliver excellence in every aspect of our business next year and for many years to come.



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