Managing director Paolo Moroni told FoodNavigator the global food industry risked losing profitability and competitive advantage if it did not get a grip on intellectual capital. He divided these into relational, organisational and human capital.
Relational capital included the company’s media image, corporate reputation and social responsibility as well as its business relationships with clients, brands, its supply chain, stakeholders and competitors, said Moroni.
Organisational capital included company strategy; culture; competitive advantages and training centres as well as patents; licences and trademarks; IT functions; production and back office systems, he added. Other aspects under this heading were research and development and scientific knowledge, he said.
Risk of underperformance
And he said human capital encompassed aspects such as personal knowledge, experience, values, aptitudes and education. “There is a risk of underperformance in every company if you do not optimise use of these resources – it will have an impact on revenues. Companies that are aware of that can really make a difference in comparison to competitors.”
However, he said valuing intellectual capital did not mean being closed to sharing knowledge with competitors. “There is always a risk when you share, but intellectual property rights are there to protect the knowledge you share.”
Open innovation was one strategy for sharing knowledge and could benefit small to medium-sized businesses as well as large multinationals such as Unilever, said Moroni. However, individual companies had to assess whether it should be a priority for them.
Long term development
A proper grasp of intellectual capital would enable managers to plan strategically for long term development and growth as well as short term progress, said Moroni.
Global market leaders such as Dow Chemicals included some sort of assessment of their intellectual capacity in their annual reports, he said, but he added: “It appears to me in the food industry that it’s a concept that’s not really understood and applied at the moment.”
If the industry did, it would be able to improve its internal management more easily. “If you want to value an organisation you need to put financial figures on intellectual capital. Usually accountants should be able to do this.”