Peruvians love their mayonnaise. They eat it with chicken, lentils, potatoes, corn, hamburgers--even on French fries.
But up until a few years ago, many home cooks would make their own mayonnaise. Commercial brands available were not only more expensive but, more importantly, they lacked the zesty lemon taste locals craved. That was the case until the AlaCena mayo brand came along in 2002.
"AlaCena is comfortably priced and it has that Peruvian taste that I like," says Sonia Laynes, a 32-year-old housekeeper who now buys AlaCena rather than make her own at home.
Laynes is one of many in Peru that have helped this local condiment capture 94% of the country's commercial mayonnaise market by volume since it launched. After just one year on the market, it had attained 50% of total mayonnaise sales.
"AlaCena is our star product," says Leslie Pierce, general manager of Alicorp, a Peruvian-owned company that produces and commercializes foodstuffs and derivatives, including AlaCena mayonnaise and other condiments. Today, the company markets seven products under the AlaCena brand--including ketchup, aji and rocoto sauce--and exports its mayonnaise to Ecuador and to the United States.
The AlaCena experience exemplifies what the company aims to achieve: Spur sales growth by developing more value-added products, and by tapping new business segments and markets overseas. So far, this strategy appears to be working well. Sales in 2006 rose 20% from a year earlier to hit US$664 million. Net income last year came to $35 million, a 41% increase from the previous year. All three company business lines--foodstuffs, animal nutrition and processed industrial feeds--have been strong. "We are breaking company records nowadays," Pierce says.
Alicorp has come a long way since it was founded in 1956 as Anderson, Clayton & Company, a small business that produced oils, edible fats and laundry soap. In 1971 Peruvian conglomerate Grupo Romero bought the company and still controls it today.
After a decade of consolidating its local operations and strengthening internal processes, Alicorp is now set to expand abroad, Pierce says. Its products are sold in 20 countries. In addition to increasing its presence and entering new markets throughout Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean, the company is looking to increase its presence in the United States, as well as to enter Asian markets.
Last year, foreign sales comprised 12% of revenues, compared to 8% in 2005. In...