How Uno Nutrition increases their negotiation power amid global turmoil

“With the way dairy prices fluctuate, understanding the data and making smart decisions has become tricky. By providing transparent data, Vesper helps me improve my negotiation skills and increase our company’s margins.”

Interview with Kiruba Tinakararajan, Uno Nutrition’s Business Development Manager

In a global context marked by climate change, pandemics, inflation, and war, getting its hands on reliable industry data to make the best purchasing decisions has become a conundrum. Kiruba Tinakararajan, Business Development Manager at Uno Nutrition, a Malaysian life science nutrition scale-up, can confirm it firsthand.

Founded in 2009, Uno Nutrition manufactures nutrition supplement drinks for children and adults. Their products range from infant formula to sports drinks and clinical nutrition formulas to relieve cancer or diabetes patients from their treatments’ side effects. What started as a company with “humble origins in Malaysia,” as Thian Seong Yee, Founder and Managing Director, puts it, has since become a regional provider of nutrition supplements across Asia.

Whilst Uno Nutrition pursued its steady growth, the Covid-19 outbreak halted the global economy, disrupting it altogether. “The pandemic was a good lesson for everyone in the industry. We witnessed firsthand how a warehouse could be shut down at any moment, and it became clear we had to diversify our pool of suppliers to secure our production,” Kiruba Tinakararajan explains. The challenge, however, was to easily find reliable and transparent data to make the best decisions as quickly as possible.

And then Vesper came into the picture

If suppliers are fundamental to manufacturing products, they can also be a great source of information. “I discovered Vesper through one of our US suppliers,” Tinakararajan tells us. “They explained how Vesper could provide us with the data we needed–especially the ones related to SMP and WPC80 prices. I immediately got in touch with the sales team and adopted the platform. It felt like a natural next step for us.”

Uno Nutrition did not take long to see the benefits of a commodity intelligence platform like Vesper. As SMP and WPC80 prices, which amount to 50% of the company’s purchasing volume, kept fluctuating and showing discrepancies among regions, it became crucial for Uno Nutrition to broaden its horizons to keep its margins steady. “We used to import raw materials primarily from the US. At one point, the US prices surged whilst the EU ones showed to be more affordable, which encouraged us to switch suppliers for a while. We would not have been able to do this before using Vesper,” Tinakararajan says.
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“With Vesper, we can perform real-time fact-checking everywhere we go and better understand the market.”
Where did Uno Nutrition use to get its market insights from, then? “We relied on hearsays during international conferences, such as those organised by large dairy players in Singapore.” Although these events represent an excellent opportunity to discuss the market's state with other industry professionals, they remain gut feelings that are too thin to base critical business decisions on. “With Vesper, we can perform real-time fact-checking everywhere we go and better understand the market.”

“With Vesper, I know exactly when is a good time to make a purchasing decision”

As Business Development Manager, Kiruba Tinakararajan must constantly keep the company’s margins in mind. Therefore, it is not surprising to hear that she has a predilection for the WPC80 import and export and price widgets. “My colleagues have a more diverse use of the platform,” she grins. “Take our Managing Director: he looks at butter and other dairy ingredients just to understand the market’s latest trends. And that is what I do, too, by reading Vesper’s bi-weekly dairy market analyses.

The graphs are also a feature that caught her attention and continues to make her day-to-day operations easier. “It is great to use these graphs during meetings with internal and external stakeholders, along with the Vesper Price Index.”

Combining these features allows Kiruba Tinakararajan to increase her negotiation power. “When a supplier communicates a price, I immediately compare it with the latest Vesper Price Index and see whether it accurately reflects the market. With Vesper’s forecasts, I know when is a good time to make a purchasing decision.

When we ask her if she has anything to say to conclude this insightful conversation, Kiruba Tinakararajan nods. “I expect even greater benefits going forward. As it has become easier to negotiate thanks to Vesper, I am confident I will get even better margins. Backing decisions with transparent data gives greater power to dairy players. It is a game-changer.”

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