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Fireside Chat with Kati Ilkka | Growth + Profitability Summit 2023

Thrudur Starradottir< Thrudur Starradottir November 20, 2023

In this Fireside Chat from Vendavo’s Growth + Profitability Summit 2023 in Stockholm, Thrudur Starradottir, Customer Success Manager at Vendavo, talks with Kati Ilkka, Senior Pricing Manager at Huhtamaki Fiber Foodservice, about how to remove silos from organizations, current trends in pricing and sustainability, and the importance of getting organizational support for pricing transformation projects.

Thrudur Starradottir: I’m Thrudur Starradottir and I’m a Customer Success Manager here at Vendavo. I am here with Kati Ilkka from Huhtamaki, and we’re here at Stockholm’s Vendavo Growth + Profitability Summit. So, you were just a panelist on “Pricing Without Walls.” What advice do you have for companies dealing with silos in their organizations?

Kati Ilkka: Well, what can I say? I would say communication, involving the management, making clear journeys, that we are all aligned – this is where we go and what we do – make it as a teamwork, and do it together so that everybody has a say and a possibility to influence.

Starradottir: Right. Okay. And did you actively go and make it so that they could influence? 

Ilkka: Yeah. So also, I think one important things is to get the organization model to support, you know? It could come first and then you come with this kind of an implementation, but sometimes you might need to do it also when you realize that the organization’s model is not supporting this. But, of course it’s all comes from the business.

Starradottir: Okay. So how do go about achieving pricing alignment within your organization? 

Ilkka: Yeah, so we have regular meetings and different categories – for example, QSR or distribution. We align in this category meeting the price levels we have in the system per market because the knowledge comes from the market. It is not something that we can centrally have our kind of guidelines, but still they know what’s happening in there. This is where we review regularly and then update the system. 

Starradottir: Right. Okay.

Ilkka: But it needs to be efficient. Nobody wants to spend three hours on discussing about details. So, it’s also something that we are still learning, but you need to do it together. 

Starradottir: Yes, but there’s a level of involvement for other people. 

Ilkka: Yes, I am struggling because they want to involve the whole company on these meetings and I’m trying to keep them small because that’s also one of the things which is important.

Starradottir: I understand. Yeah, that sounds reasonable. So, what is Huhtamaki’s biggest pricing challenge this year, and how are you working at solving that? 

Ilkka: Oh, you said you have easy questions. Well, last year was very exceptional. Everything was all about the situation in the world, which is still challenging. Now we are in a bit of different challenge. The economy is not going so well, so of course, you need to be able to answer that. 

Starradottir: Mmhmm. 

Ilkka: Sustainability is our key for saving the world and also for the business. But, of course, that also usually brings some challenges because the prices for sustainable material is not always in the same level as plastic. So, I think that’s the balance between all these things. It’s really important. 

Starradottir: So, what trends do you see impacting pricing or selling strategies in the near future?

Ilkka: Well, I think sustainability, that’s clearly one of the things. Then there is a lot of discussion about regulations in different countries, banning different products so that the products which been one-time used would not be something that you can use anymore. So, there is a lot of things ongoing, and then EU regulations change, there are some specific per countries and you need to, again, balance there. So, this is the external world, and I think that’s the biggest thing you need to keep up with it. 

Starradottir: Yeah, right,

Ilkka: And then also the plastic, which is linked to this one. You might not be able to get fully rid of it, even though people think there are good things about that, too. But we have a lot in fiber, and I think we have a very big portfolio to support this development. 

Starradottir: Okay. So sustainability is your main focus? 

Ilkka: Yeah, I think sustainability is the main thing because that is clearly in our strategy and we want to. 

Starradottir: Do you feel like you get some knowledge about, for example, EU regulations that’s coming up, kind of beforehand? Can you be prepared? 

Ilkka: Yeah, we have a dedicated team on this which is really focused on this one. I’m not an expert at all on this, so they are, and I know we have sessions where they give us feedback on what is the situation and it’s another organization who is working on this. But it’s about the silos – you should not be silos. You should also communicate and be sure what’s happening in the other parts. 

Starradottir: Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you so much for being here with me.

Ilkka: Okay. Yeah. Thank you, Thrudur.