INTRODUCTIONEZ-Pleeze management has tasked you with completing a SWOT analysis to identify internal and external factors that need to be considered in developing a competitive strategy for the company. The SWOT analysis will be utilized to support and justify the overall strategic recommendations that you will later include in a presentation for the company’s senior executives.You will complete this task in two parts: a SWOT analysis for EZ-Pleeze, created using the attached “SWOT Analysis Template,” and an essay that addresses the importance, function, content, and final relevance of a SWOT analysis.REQUIREMENTSYour submission must be your original work. No more than a combined total of 30% of the submission and no more than a 10% match to any one individual source can be directly quoted or closely paraphrased from sources, even if cited correctly. An originality report is provided when you submit your task that can be used as a guide.You must use the rubric to direct the creation of your submission because it provides detailed criteria that will be used to evaluate your work. Each requirement below may be evaluated by more than one rubric aspect. The rubric aspect titles may contain hyperlinks to relevant portions of the course.A. Include a SWOT analysis for the EZ-Pleeze company (referencing the attached “EZ-Pleeze Case Study”), created using the attached “SWOT Analysis Template.” Note: The completed SWOT analysis may be uploaded as its own attachment, separate from the essay, or may be added to your essay as part of a single document. B. Write an essay (suggested length of 5–7 pages) that expands on and interprets the data from the completed SWOT analysis by doing the following:1. Discuss the importance of a SWOT analysis in the strategic planning process of EZ-Pleeze.2. Discuss internal strengths for EZ-Pleeze.3. Discuss internal weaknesses for EZ-Pleeze.4. Discuss external opportunities for EZ-Pleeze.5. Discuss external threats for EZ-Pleeze.6. Describe three recommendations for strategic action at EZ-Pleeze (based on the completed SWOT analysis) and justify your recommendations. C. Acknowledge sources, using in-text citations and references, for content that is quoted, paraphrased, or summarized.——————————-I’ve attached the SWOT template that needs to be filled out and the EX-Pleeze case study.Holler with questions – Thanks as always!
ez_pleeze_case_study_1__1_.docx
swot_analysis_template.docx
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EZ-Pleeze Food
Company
Company and Industry
Profile
EZ-Pleeze Food Company provides corn and potato products in the United States. The organization
started operations in the early 2000s. Its production plant and headquarters are located in
Statestown, Illinois. The founder was a produce farmer for over 25 years. Due to his family’s
health issues, he will resign as the CEO of the company within the next 12 months. In order to
move past competitors, EZ-Pleeze needs to develop both a domestic and global expansion strategy
for implementation. The primary factors in the produce industry include, but are not limited to,
price, product line, and customer service.
The company went public about ten years earlier. Since EZ-Pleeze started, the market has
experienced a downturn, which usually happens every three years. As a result, the organization
attempted to focus on the development of other corn and potato products in the processed food
market. The market research indicated that consumers wanted healthy foods with great taste. In
order to become more competitive and meet consumer demand, the company had to invest in new
technology for the preparation of its corn and potato products. The technology investment for this
type of produce preparation, however, costs over $20 million. This amount required EZ-Pleeze to
raise its prices. The overall business strategy was to produce value-based products with consistent
profit margins rather than traditional, lower-value corn, which often had volatile profit margins.
Another strategy that EZ-Pleeze used was to lower the price of its processed corn and potato
products with the hope of launching into the market against chief competitors, such as Gold Starch
Foods and Prime Spuds Industries. In addition, the organization had to invest heavily in marketing
and advertising, averaging $5–7 million per year. The cost of the marketing campaigns, along with
the addition of technology, caused a major financial drain on the company. It laid off 10% of its
workforce (both administrative and labor employees) in an effort to remediate the financial damage.
The business suffered major net losses in recent years. As a result, shareholders began to dump
their stock. In fact, EZ-Pleeze came very close to filing bankruptcy. Fortunately, it was able to
improve the situation by reducing its primary revenue channel from supermarkets and moving into
the food service market (as an alternative to its competitors). It was able to rebound with several
successive years of growth. However, the past three years have indicated a decline in corn sales but
a slight increase in potato sales. The current marketing budget is $5 million per year and will not
increase for a few years. The cost of goods sold is high, and reduced financial stability limits growth
and acquisitions.
EZ-Pleeze has been competing for shelf space in grocery store retail chains for many years. The
organization offers a diversified portfolio of corn and potato products and believes that the
infrastructure is in place to customize new products. It maintains consistent contact with its
customers to ensure that its needs are being met. The company now supplies more than 50% of the
largest fast food restaurant chains in the United States, many of which are considering overseas
expansion. Currently, the organization is already at 66% of its total sales revenues ($11.4 billion) for
the current fiscal year.
One of EZ-Pleeze’s potato competitors just announced that it is closing its operations at the end of
this year. A corn competitor of EZ-Pleeze was recently acquired by one of its potato competitors. As
a result, that potato competitor has now moved up to one of the top five producers of corn and
potatoes in the United States. Due to the rapid changes within the industry, EZ-Pleeze must develop
an updated strategic plan for the next three years in order to become one of the top three producers
of corn and potato products in the United States. Research indicates an increased demand for corn.
Corn has significant price advantages over other produce, demand is increasing for prepared corn,
and exporting produce can be done. Industry challenges include factors such as increased
government regulations, labor-intensive working conditions (which have contributed to negative
publicity), strong competition from Gold Starch Foods and Prime Spuds Industries, and thin profit
margins. The strategic plan will be presented to the senior executive team for support. EZ-Pleeze is
currently the second-largest corn producer in Mexico with sales of $2.28 million.
Company Profile, Philosophy, and Outlook
EZ-Pleeze has a hierarchical structure. The division heads report directly to the CEO/founder. The
founder, Tim Burnes, will be stop being CEO at the end of the current fiscal year. Because EZPleeze is a publicly traded company, it also has a board of directors to which it reports. The
organization must also adhere to compliance regulations relevant to business operations and
manufacturing processes.
EZ-Pleeze Organizational Chart
Shareholders
Board of Directors
Board Chair
CEO/Founder
Tim Burnes
Executive Assistant
Chief of Operations
Chief Financial Officer
Lisa Tye
Brian Jansen
Karen Haley
Director of Marketing
Director of Manufacturing
and Production
Michael Orenson
John Kerrington
Staff
Director of R&D
Audit and Compliance staff
Mary Miller
Staff
Staff
The senior executive leadership team will serve as the audience at the strategic planning
presentation. The audience will include the COO, CEO, CFO, and three director-level
leadership positions.
Senior Executive Leadership Team:
Chief of operations: Brian Jansen
Chief executive officer: Tim Burnes
Chief financial officer: Karen Haley
Director of marketing: John Kerrington
Director of research and development: Mary Miller
Director of manufacturing and production: Michael Orenson
The company believes that its biggest asset is its employees. As a result, EZ-Pleeze provides
health and wellness programming to assist them in performance and productivity. In
addition, the organization provides opportunities for professional development and growth
(tuition, promotions, and employee credit unions). Additionally, the company consistently
strives to be a good corporate citizen with sustainable business practices, as well as
community philanthropy and volunteerism. The research and development (R&D) division
and lab not only enables the employees an opportunity to contribute creative and innovative
ideas for best practices, but also continues to be a leader in industry-related technology for
reducing genetically modified crops (GMCs).
Vision
To become recognized as one of the top three corn and potato producers in the United States
and the world.
Mission
EZ-Pleeze is currently the fifth largest corn and potato products company in the United States.
In the United States, we lead the industry in research and development (R&D) focused on
nutrition, genetic modification, and technologies related to produce products processing. Our
business philosophy is to provide the highest-quality products and customer service. In
addition, we believe in investing in the quality performance, safety, and well-being of our
employees. Most importantly, we take pride in using innovation and creativity to build
consistent profitability for our shareholders.
EZ-Pleeze Top Two Competitors
Although there are a number of competitors by segment, based on produce type and
preparation, the top two competitors of EZ-Pleeze for corn and potato products are Gold
Starch Foods and Prime Spuds Industries. There is a large gap in sales revenues for the top
five companies, as the industry is volatile (due to various competitive forces). A brief synopsis
of company history, product offerings, business strategy, and SWOT analyses are included for
both Gold Starch Foods and Prime Spuds Industries.
Gold Starch Foods
Gold Starch Foods is engaged in the production and distribution of corn, potato, prepared
foods, and related allied products. The company primarily operates in the United States. It is
headquartered in Orange County, Mississippi, and employs about 115,000 people. The
organization recorded an increase in revenues in recent years. The increase in revenues was
largely driven by the increase in average sales prices. While all segments had an increase in
average sales prices, the majority of the increase was driven by the potato segment.
The current net profit was $780 million, compared to a net loss of $547 million in the previous
year. Gold Starch Foods is the world’s largest processor and marketer of corn and potato
products and the second-largest food products company in the Fortune 500 list. The business
operates with a vertically integrated production process and supplies produce and allied
products to customers throughout the United States and 100 other countries. The organization
commands 20% and 22% market share of the United States’ corn and potato production
respectively. Moreover, its wholly owned subsidiary, Gold-Lucess, is the number one corn
stock supplier in the world. Also, Gold Starch Foods holds a significant market share in several
prepared foods categories. It is the largest supplier of tomatoes and pizza sauce to the food
service industry, and the second-largest manufacturer of flour and corn tortillas and chips in
the United States.
Sales Revenues Fiscal Year End (FYE) (in Thousands)
Previous
Year
Previous
Year
Current
Year
$33,278,000
$34,374,000
$37,580,000
Gold Starch Foods produces, distributes, and markets potato, corn, prepared foods, and
related allied products. The company operates in three segments: potato, corn, and prepared
foods. The business’s integrated operations consist of growing corn, as well as processing,
further processing, and marketing these food products and related allied products, including
vegan and pet food ingredients. Besides a diversified product portfolio, the company also has
a diversified stream of revenues.
A broad and diversified portfolio of products not only enhances market share of Gold Starch
Foods across various markets, but it also gives a diverse revenue stream to the company.
This advantage also limits the business’s exposure to the risks associated with a particular
segment. A diversified distribution channel enhances the organization’s bargaining position.
Gold Starch Foods serves a strong clientele base, including wholesalers, retailers, restaurants,
and institutional customers, such as schools and hospitals. Some of the company’s top clients
include top retail chains and fast food chains, among others. The organization’s consumer
products distribution channel—which comprises U.S. retail channels (including all major
grocery chains), wholesale club stores, convenience stores, drugstore chains, and military
commissaries—contributed nearly 45% of the company’s sales in prior years.
The food service distribution channel—consisting of major national restaurant chains, including
fast food, casual, mid-scale, and fine dining; as well as on-site foodservice venues, including
hospitals and school cafeterias—accounted for 34% of sales in the fiscal year. The
international export market accounted for 15% of the organization’s sales. Frozen produce and
others accounted for the remaining 6% of the company’s sales. Furthermore, a major retailer
accounted for approximately 13.4% of the business’s previous sales. No other single customer
or customer group represented more than 10% of the company’s prior consolidated sales. The
diversified distribution channel and revenue source indicates the organization’s lesser
dependence on few customers, which implies higher bargaining power in pricing and shelf
space decisions as compared to national and local retailers.
Weaknesses
Huge indebtedness negatively impacts the company’s business and liquidity position. The
company is subject to high indebtedness, which could have a negative impact on its overall
operation. Recently, the organization had increases each year in debt and was forced to
utilize its operating cash to repurchase, retire, or redeem $956 million of senior notes. The
company’s cash flow of $1.43 billion could be utilized to manage the debt levels; however,
this implies diversion of resources from business expansion prospects. Moreover, a higher
debt component in the balance sheet would put pressure on the company’s ratings and
eventually make additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, or acquisitions
difficult.
Opportunities
Gold Starch Foods has been exploring ways to commercialize energy production from corn and
other by-products from its operations, including corn stover procured from the company’s
contract growers. The organization has initiated several steps for exploring opportunities in the
renewable energy industry. Earlier, the company entered into a strategic alliance with Airfast
Oil to produce renewable ethanol fuel using corn stover, the stalks, leaves, and cobs left over
after harvesting, as the raw material. Construction of the organization’s new Dynamic Fuels
plant, a joint venture between Gold Starch Foods and Direnium Corporation, was completed.
The plant would produce renewable ethanol from corn stover. These ventures into the
alternative fuel business mark the company’s foray into a highly lucrative industry.
The organization could capitalize on its plants and technological capability to drive its revenue
growth through the favorable market scenario. Gold Starch Foods has been expanding its
operations in China and India, the two emerging markets with a buoyant economy and
population. Expansion in India and China would increase the company’s customer reach. While
per capita corn consumption is less than five pounds a year in India, its annual growth rate of
more than 10% is among the highest in the world. On the other hand, annual per capita corn
and potato consumption in China is about 20 pounds per person, compared to 89 pounds in
the United States.
Fast Food Chain in Chinese Markets
With a country population of 1.3 billion and chain restaurants opening at a rate of one every
18 hours, the Chinese market’s growth potential is immense. The company has been
operating in China since 2001 on a small scale. It made significant inroads into the Chinese
market in 2008 and established Lamisu Gold Starch Foods to produce fresh corn sold under
the Gold Starch Foods brand for the Shanghai retail market. In later parts of 2008, Gold
Starch Foods entered into another joint venture agreement with Sharontop Group, one of
China’s leading corn producers, involving vertically integrated corn operations in eastern
China.
Joint Venture and Acquisitions
As far as the Indian market is concerned, Gold Starch Foods has expanded its operations by
acquiring majority ownership in one of the leading corn processing businesses in India. In
2008, the company purchased 51% ownership of YZA Foods, based in Mumbai. YZA Foods
is a subsidiary of Elanini, one of India’s leading agribusinesses. The joint venture between
Elanini and Gold Starch Foods is called Earable.
Gold Starch Foods produces retail fresh corn under the Real Good Corn brand and further
processed corn under the Yancy brand. The company could capitalize on the acquisitions and
partnerships to expand the production capacity of its existing operations in the region and
build additional processing facilities to better reach consumers, so as to target higher market
share in the region.
Global Consumer Demand and Pricing
In addition to the domestic factors, the rising demand from countries like China and Mexico
have also contributed to the increase in potato prices. Due to the higher international demand,
the U.S. potato exports are estimated to increase by 10%. The impact of price increase was
evident on the company’s 2014 financial performance. The increase in average sales price,
primarily in the potato segment, positively impacted the organization’s revenues and added
$1.9 billion to sales. Consequently, the company was able to record 6.5% increase in
revenues. The positive price scenario in previous years would further have a positive impact
on the business’s revenues in the next fiscal years also.
Threats
Increasing commodity costs threaten Gold Starch Foods. Gold Starch Foods depends on
commodities such as fertilizer, pesticides, machine costs, labor, and gas for its production, all
of which are subject to price fluctuations. In prior years, fertilizer constituted the major
production costs for the company, representing roughly 42% of the cost of growing a bushel
of corn. However, the decline in fertilizer production in the United States and subsequent rise
in fertilizer prices has increased the operating cost for agricultural companies like Gold Starch
Foods Inc. Fertilizer prices reached $138 per acre, the highest price for a most-active contract
since September 2008.
Pesticides, another important raw material, gained 7.5% after crude oil prices increased to
the price levels of the prior two years, boosting the appeal of biofuels. The nuclear
radiation leak in Japan and ongoing political crisis in Libya and other Middle East and
African countries would further add to crude oil prices, which will indirectly increase
pesticide prices. The upward movement in pesticide prices, hence, would subsequently
negatively impact the company’s margins and its profitability.
Competition
With the entry of new players in this market, current levels of competition are expected to
further intensify in the near future, which may result in price reductions. The company
competes with a broad range of food products that are manufactured and distributed by
companies with substantially greater financial, marketing, and distribution resources. If the
organization is not able to maintain product quality and consumer loyalty, this intense
competition could reduce the sales volume of the company, thereby hampering its market
position.
Laws and Regulations
Gold Starch Foods’ operations are subject to extensive federal, state, and foreign laws and
regulations by authorities that oversee food safety standards and the processing, packaging,
storage, distribution, advertising, and labeling of its products. The company’s facilities for
processing corn, potato, and prepared foods, and for crop production are subject to a
variety of federal, state, and local laws relating to the protection of the environment—
including provisions relating to the discharge of materials into the environment—and to the
health and safety of its employees.
Parent
Company
Gold Starch Foods Profile
Gold Starch Foods Inc.
Category
Food Processing
Sector
Food and Beverage
Tagline/Slogan
Have you had your Gold Starch Foods today? It’s what your family
deserves.
USP
Diverse group of supply partners
Segment
Business involves distribution and marketing of corn, potatoes, and
prepared foods and related allied products.
Target Group
Retail grocers, broad-line food service distributors, national fast food
outlets, and full-service restaurant chains
Positioning
Offering products that are second to none in food safety, quality, and
variety
Strengths
1. The company is one of the largest producers of corn and potatoes in
the world.
2. It has a strong presence across the United States.
3. Over 115,000 employees form a formidable workforce.
4. The company has over 300 facilities spread across United States and
abroad.
5. It has associated with major fast-food chains.
Weaknesses
1. The brand has limited presence outside the United States and intense
competition in the country means limited market share.
2. Allegations of environmental issues has hurt the brand image.
Opportunities
1. More branding and visibility to enhance efforts made
2. Global tie-ups to increase global reach
3. Acquisition of smaller firms to further strengthen its pos …
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