Blue Skies: Connecting African Farmers to Global Markets

Case Solution

John-Paul Ferguson, Laurent De Clara
Stanford Graduate School of Business ()

In June 2014, Blue Skies founder and president Anthony Pile called a board meeting to discuss the company’s development plans. The economic crisis in Europe increased consumers’ sensitivity to prices, put pressure on profit margins and stimulated the search for new markets. Founded in 1998, Blue Skies was a UK based fruit processing company with its main manufacturing base in Ghana, Africa where it cuts and packages fruit that is mainly sold to retailers in Europe. It depended on air freight and shipped the goods within 48 hours of pickup. Although Blue Skies had grown into a multinational company with manufacturing facilities on three continents, the company remained dependent on European markets. It continued to focus primarily on the UK, whose retail sector was one of the most competitive in the world, but thanks to its product innovation capabilities, it was uniquely positioned to shape the future of the fresh fruit industry. The case describes the development of Blue Skies since it was founded as a small fruit processing company that exports fresh-cut pineapple to Europe. Provides an overview of your strategy of adding value through vertical integration to reduce delivery costs and improve input quality. It shows how competitive structures in the fresh cut market shape the balance of power within the agri-food value chain and how Blue Skies maintained its competitive advantage through a combination of production efficiency, product quality and market diversification.

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