It is, perhaps, a bit overused, but a famous line from the Robert Burns poem “To a Mouse” has consistently popped into my head this year: “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry.”
When planning for 2020, surely no one—in any industry—anticipated a global pandemic. But if one thing has become clear over the last several months, it is the need for a strong foundation: one that allows a company, organization or government to meet the needs of its citizens or stakeholders when the worst case scenario becomes a reality.
This is illustrated throughout the 2020 Leaderboard (page 18), in which executives from the F&F industry’s top companies note that the core tenets of their strategies to navigate coronavirus/COVID-19 were set in place long before the disease was declared a global pandemic—from more agile manufacturing, allowing for swift shifts in production, to local-oriented supply chains less impacted by shutdowns.
As we entered uncharted territory, leaders spoke of ensuring the safety of their employees and the importance of providing their customers with the tools they need to combat the virus: from hand sanitizers and fragrance for cleaning products, to the ingredients burgeoning chefs use to feed themselves (literally and metaphorically) as they test new dishes during social distancing.
Of course, in many ways, the world still carries on, albeit, perhaps, a bit amended. Cannabidiol remains the buzziest ingredient of the era, artificial intelligence continues to improve innovation and commitments to sustainability feel more crucial than ever before. As Mane president and CEO Jean M. Mane notes, coronavirus has revealed “an opportunity for the world to achieve some of the goals set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
He adds: “I hope we will seize it instead of returning to our old ways too quickly.” And I couldn’t agree more.
D. Eden Stuart
Associate Managing Editor