Company Experiences Testimonials

Plant-based drinks: Centrale del Latte d’Italia business challenge

ESCP provides all its students with an assortment of opportunities to develop their leadership potential and business acumen putting into place the skills learnt in class through solid experiential learning.

A crucial element of the ESCP – MSc in International Food & Beverage Management is the hands-on approach of the teaching method that challenges students to deal with real business cases.

In spring, Centrale del Latte d’Italia challenged ESCP students with a real business case: they had six weeks to develop innovative ideas for the company and plan the communication of its plant-based line.

Centrale del Latte d’Italia, the third player in the Italian dairy market that groups well-known historical brands, listed in the STAR segment of the Italian Stock Exchange and controlled by Newlat Food S.p.A, is equipped with a modern and differentiated industrial set-up. The group has always stood out for its continuous search for the highest quality products, paying particular attention to innovation to meet consumers’ multiple needs.

Now that customers are increasingly informed and aware of what they bring to the table and are looking for products of excellent quality and health benefits, the group launched a line of plant-based drinks.

In 2021, the plant-based drink market reached 224 million euros in sell-out turnover.

The segmentation according to the market shows that soybean leads the sector followed by rice and almond, both experiencing a strong growth (+ 22%).

The Business Challenge

To make the new plant-based drink line a successful brand on the Italian market, Centrale del Latte d’Italia decided to work on brand awareness, diversify from the competitors, encourage the trial or buyback of the products and build consumer loyalty.

The real strength of these products is their Italian heart: 100% “made in Italy” ingredients from a controlled Italian supply chain.

Centrale del Latte d’Italia’s managers asked the international business students for their views on this real-life case. They entrusted the MSc in F&B students with developing a creative concept (on Facebook and Instagram) capable of increasing the number of consumers in the store and those purchasing the product. The aim was to make the business able to develop in all areas where the plant-based drink line is available, and it can be purchased from the main GDO distributors and in traditional channel stores.

The students also had to present the expected budget.

The company’s expectations were high for this assignment, and the IFBM teams worked hard on the challenge for six weeks.

Managing projects of this size in such a short time is a big challenge and a unique opportunity for growth for ESCP students.

The winner is…

In autumn, a shortlist of four finalist teams was invited to present their outcomes before Mario Restano, Centrale del Latte d’Italia Marketing Director, Benedetta Mastrolia, Newlat Food SpA Investor Relations, Elisa Aleotti, Centrale del Latte d’Italia Digital Specialist, Francesco Venuti and Regina Brix, Academic Directors of the Master’s in IFBM, and Digital Strategy professor Francesca Pucciarelli.

All the groups showed great enthusiasm and put an enormous amount of effort into the challenge.

From the analysis of the student’s projects, group eight was selected as the winning team. The company appreciated the initial analysis of the market and competitors, the inclusion of KPIs and future strategy ideas. But most of all, they were struck by the creativity of all the ideas proposed for both online and offline activities, from which Centrale del Latte can take inspiration in defining future brand strategies.

The winning team was made up of students of different nationalities and backgrounds: Fosca Turio Bohm, Maria Teresa Mosillo, Emeric HanriotEsther Ruiz and Shuaib Harris.

This project with Centrale Del Latte was a great example of the opportunities provided by ESCP to acquire significant professional experiences during our studies. Such exercises are the best to challenge our business and strategic skills. It is thanks to our out of the box ideas and thorough execution that my teammates and I won this challenge. Personally, I was really excited about applying the Digital Marketing POEM method to a very concrete and relevant case,” – said Emeric Hanriot, IFBM student and intern at Pernod Ricardas Assistant of the Chief of Innovation Projects.

The committee was impressed with the great job students had done.

Regarding the whole experience of collaboration with ESCP, Mario Restano stated: “I am very glad about this collaboration with ESCP Business School for this master’s degree, which is ranked first in the world in food and beverage management.

We found an excellent teaching organisation and all the guys were well prepared and very motivated; we congratulated the students in the teams on their work, where they all showed commitment and proposed interesting ideas. The proposals viewed will make a useful contribution to the development of our marketing plans. The analysis of the projects was conducted by an internal working group at Centrale del Latte d’Italia, made up of brand managers from some of the operating units of our group, the Digital Specialist of Newlat Group and myself.

I would like to conclude by hoping that this experience with Centrale del Latte d’Italia has been useful in the educational path of the students and therefore advantageous for them to face better the next challenges they will have in the professional field“.

Who knows what excitement and challenges await next year’ students?

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