Colombia 2015 | FINANCE | COLUMN

TBY talks to Luis Javier Castro Lachner,Managing Director of Mesoamerica, on the Colombian food industry.

Luis Javier Castro Lachner

In 2010 you founded one of your flagship companies, Mesofoods, in Colombia. What struck you as interesting about the Colombian food industry?

The idea was to create a conglomerate of different food chains in Colombia. We understood early on that Colombians were faithful to their culture, with a strong identity. We chose to take interesting local brands to their full potential. We looked into OMA, which was an interesting, locally owned asset. Having experienced growth, the owners were keen to take it to the next level. We purchased an 85% stake in the company, while the regional owners retained the remaining 15%. Using that entity as a platform, we purchased Presto, which had over one 100 outlets, all of which we operate today.

How successful has Colombia proven as a strategic regional base?

Colombia has become, and will continue to be, the center of gravity for this region. With a population of 50 million and a stable government, it is unrivalled. From the outside it may appear that there is a war still ongoing. And yet it still arguably has the most stable government of the region. In this context, Columbia will remain the center of gravity from Guatemala to Chile. Mexico is a different continent, and Brazil in its own category.