Understanding Ambition – Visiting the R&D Team at Masan Group/Masan Meat Life
Maintaining a diverse portfolio is essential to ensure that risks are minimised, and our investors have a balanced exposure to the opportunities in Vietnam’s economy. At the same time, we never spread ourselves too thinly, preferring to concentrate on the most attractive growth areas. This ensures we have the time and space to develop a core understanding of each fund holding and the industries in which they operate.
A key element of our proactive approach to responsible ownership is company engagement. And one of the most effective ways of achieving a meaningful dialogue with a firm is to spend time at their premises. “These site visits allow us to talk to people at all levels – from the shop floor to the board room,” says Kenno’s CEO Mikael Nastamo.
In March 2023, Kenno’s Head of Investments, Giang Nguyen, was accompanied by Mikael on a journey to Dĩ An, Binh Duong province in Southeast Vietnam to visit the premises of Masan Group Corporate. MSN is a consumer group that markets a range of established products, such as fish sauce, soya sauce, instant noodles, and beverages.
The Fund’s portfolio holding company Masan Meal Life (MML), a subsidiary of MSN, is a pioneer in Vietnam’s chilled meat industry. It strives to boost productivity in the country’s animal protein industry and deliver traceable yet affordable meat products (fresh and processed pork and chicken) to its customers.
The shared facility in Dĩ An houses the research and development (R&D) operations of MML and other companies under MSN. Both companies are keenly aware that R&D is crucial for any consumer group that wants to expand and gain market share. “Its importance is further underlined by the speed at which Vietnamese customer behaviour is maturing,” notes Giang.
MML/MSN employs a 120-strong team of scientists at their R&D centre. The group stands out given its global experience, with many members working overseas with leading multinational firms.
During their visit, Mikael and Giang established that the company aims to build Southeast Asia’s leading R&D organisation by 2025. This division will operate from a dedicated facility due for completion in 2024.
“We admire MML’s ambition, as well as its commitment to delivering a world-class, sustainable service. Indeed, it targets a new-product success rate of 75% for 2023 and plans to use more recycled plastic in its meat packaging,” says Mikael.
We will meet with MML again in late April when our team attends the firm’s AGM, which will be held in Ho Chi Minh City.