Strengthening the Competitive Position of Commodity Marketers Two Case Study Approaches
Producers and marketers of agricultural commodities are often beset with a similar set of problems that generally may be reduced to the following question: "how can we modify our product or program in such a way as to gain a competitive edge on our competition?" As every commodity marketer knows, there is, unfortunately, no easy answer to this question. Obtaining higher prices and returns for agricultural products is possible, but requires commitment, vision and attention to the ever-changing marketplace. The current monograph contains two case studies that approach this perennial question from different agricultural commodity industries--fresh produce and turkeys--that are surrounded by different sets of basic supply and demand conditions. Yet, in each case, the companies depicted have been particularly aggressive in their approach to marketing and at least moderately successful in their quest for higher producer returns. Both of these cases are based on real companies and current data. In the first instance, TruFresh International (TFI) has been substituted for the company's actual name but the circumstances documented in the case have not been altered, and in the second example, Plainville Turkey Farm (PTF) is indeed the name of the firm. The story of each is instructive in a different way. Simply put, TFI, long an innovator in fresh produce marketing, is confronted with the challenge that several of its competitors are beginning to duplicate certain of its most successful product and market innovations. The case focuses on the strategic alternatives that TFI may have at its disposal to address this problem, typical to so many commodity industries. In the second instance, PTF is faced with a related but narrower issue: the PTF brand of fresh turkey products has been received enthusiastically in Central New York State as a high quality brand and one for which consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium. The dilemma for PTF is whether, and with what strategy, should it attempt to expand its well established branded line of turkey products to new regions and new markets? Both of these firms are confronted with a set of marketing challenges that will sound familiar to nearly all commodity-based companies. In discussing the events that led to the situations faced by these two companies and the strategic options available to address them, students, executives and industry practitioners will gain an improved understanding of the process involved in adding value to differentiate agricultural commodities.
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