Arla blog

Food for thought

2021: We will need to reinvent ourselves again

At the annual New Year’s event in Arla, we talked about the agendas that will define 2021. Here’s my take on four themes that will be important for us and probably also for many other organisations across the world.

  1. A year of two halves. As a global community, we have some very tough months ahead of us with a continued pandemic and associated restrictions. With the vaccine roll-out having now begun, hopefully we will gradually move into a new normal in the second half. With market dynamics, consumer behaviors, online shopping, green recovery, digitalization etc. having shifted forever, we need to look at our plans and strategy in a new light. This has begun already with us supercharging plans and investments ahead of time for example within e-com and digital marketing. In addition, our pipeline for sustainability action is stronger than ever.
  2. A deep recession. Millions of people around the world have lost their income and governments are borrowing money from the next generation to handle COVID-19 and the damage to the economy. The recession has the scale to affect everyone in during 2021 and beyond. We need to understand how deeply it will impact our business and plans – and for how long.
  3. Accelerated digitalization. One positive aspect of 2020, on a personal level, is the contact I have had with many more colleagues and farmers than I would have had in the ‘old physical world’. The acceptance and development of digital tools have accelerated dramatically, and how we adapt will be imperative for our competitiveness going forward. We need to invest in the right solutions and move ourselves up the digital adoption curve to fully utilize the new opportunities in our operations, customer relations, marketing and ways of working in all areas of the business. 
  4. Sustainability. We must keep walking the talk in this decade of action for the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It’s very encouraging to see that there are clear commitments to invest in sustainability in many, many businesses as well as governments across the world. For it to be commercially and financially sustainable, we must also talk the walk. Our owners, the dairy farmers, will continue a difficult transition that requires substantial individual action on farm, and they need all the support they can get. We must also demonstrate to customers and consumers what we are doing and how it adds value to our products.

At our New Year’s event, I was asked which word I would use to describe 2021.  My answer: ‘hopeful’. Hopeful that the world will recover soon from the pandemic and hopeful that we will manage whatever 2021 brings.

No doubt, we will have to reinvent ourselves once again to manage and deliver these important agendas. But the agility and efficiency that colleagues and our farmers owners have shown in the past 12 months of extreme uncertainty makes me very hopeful of what we can achieve together.

I wish you all a safe and brighter new year.

Related articles