The Aspen Institute's 2014 Business & Society International MBA Case Competition introduces a new business case study produced by the Yale School of Management and Tecnologico de Monterrey: San Miguel: Expanding the Amaranth Market.

Benito Manrique, his brother Diego, and Bruno Pagliai founded a small amaranth factory in the out-of- the-way Mexican village of Huixcazdha. Despite the plant's rural location and unschooled work force, the company had pioneered the processing of amaranth into a number of different and unique products. The company had also played a significant role in the development of the small community in which it was located, transforming the place into a "rural utopia" over the preceding 28 years.

The company's primary customer had been the governments of Mexican states that used San Miguel's products in their dietary programs. Amaranth had many nutritional properties. It was gluten free and high in protein, containing essential amino acids not present in other vegetative food sources. It also had a pleasant taste that could be combined with other foods. In spite of these qualities, the amaranth market had never really taken off in Mexico or in rest of the world.

San Miguel's leadership wanted to increase sales for their products. They admitted that they had concentrated on production and development in lieu of marketing and now wished to put together a coherent communications strategy, a branding strategy, and eye-catching product labeling. The company also wanted to revisit the mix of products and customers the company engaged to see if it could optimize the company's offerings and distribution channels. They hoped to do all of this while not compromising the values that had guided the company and its relationship with its workers and community.


For this year's case, students were asked to help the leadership of San Miguel create a communications/ marketing strategy. In particular:

  • How should the company communicate its mission and product offerings to consumers?
  • How much of the company's outreach should be devoted to introducing consumers to the category (amaranth-based products) vs. the company itself?
  • What line of products should the company promote (or create)?
  • How might the company effectively and inexpensively promote its products?
  • How should the company brand its products?
  • What distribution channels should the company employ?
  • How might the company enter the export market for its products?

Given the company's unique social mission and values, teams were prompted to specify:

  • How your strategy fits with the mission, values, and resources of the company;
  • The possible risks the company is facing to their operations from any rapid expansion. Consider the emphasis that Dr. Benito Manrique places on the welfare of San Miguel's employees and the greater Huixcazdha community.

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The language above is not to be reproduced or repurposed without the written permission of the case authors. For more information about the case study program at the Yale School of Management, contact Jaan Elias.