Grzegorz Lenart, Export Director at Lotte Wedel discusses top export products, strategy concerning launching new ones and future plans for product range development.
How important are exports in Wedel’s business?
The Polish market is the main business area of Lotte Wedel, but we also focus on enabling consumers from abroad to discover the excellent quality of our products. We invest in increasing production capacities, since the market demand for our products is growing higher. Predictions foresee that revenues from the worldwide sales of confectionery will increase to $232 billion in 20221. Therefore, we expect stable development at LOTTE Wedel and further strengthening of our position as Poland’s most popular chocolate brand, as well as our place among the top three chocolate manufacturers in Poland, but we also see much potential in the development of our export activities. This year, export accounts for approx. 10% of the company’s sales, and further growth is expected.
Currently, sweets of your brand are present in 60 countries. Do you plan to enter new markets?
Wedel’s products can be found in more than 60 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Bosnia, Greece, Kosovo, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Mexico and Ukraine. Currently, our key markets are the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. New countries to which we export our products include Russia, Ukraine, Kosovo, the Philippines, Chile, and Brazil. As a part of the promotion of our brand abroad, we attend international food fairs, such as Anuga in Cologne, ISM in Cologne, Gulfood in Dubai, SIAL in Paris, Alimentaria in Barcelona, and FHA in Singapore.
Wedel is Poland’s oldest chocolate manufacturer brand, such products as Ptasie Mleczko® or Torcik Wedlowski are classics loved by Polish customers. How is your confectionery received by foreign customers?
When preparing an offer for foreign markets, we have to take into account local tastes and preferences. Wedel’s classic products, such as Ptasie Mleczko® or Torcik Wedlowski, have won the hearts of our eastern neighbours, as well as the Russian-speaking diaspora all across North America. Wedel’s Baryłki, on the other hand, enjoys unflagging popularity in the Balkans and Germany.
Which countries are the largest recipients of Wedel confectionery?
Currently, key markets for LOTTE Wedel are the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Of most importance to us are countries with a large Polish diaspora, as well as Eastern European countries. It is worth stressing we do not reach only Polish stores – as is often believed – but also widen distribution in cooperation with local sales networks.
The quality of products matters very much to customers. Wedel can boast it, but do you modify your recipes nevertheless, to meet the current trends and expectations of foreign customers?
We rely on the recipes of E.Wedel products sold at home. We believe their quality and uniqueness will make them noticed by foreign consumers who will reach for them on a regular basis.
What products enjoy the most popularity abroad?
The export sale hits include Ptasie Mleczko®, Torcik Wedlowski, Baryłki, Pawełek candy bars, dark and filled chocolates.
To every consumer, confectionery is primarily pleasure, so what is your policy introducing new products? Do you attempt to surprise your customers on a regular basis and do foreign customers expect you to do it?
We constantly observe the trends and attempt to plan our portfolio in such manner as to make it as diverse and as innovative as possible. The confectionery market in Poland is highly fragmented between international and domestic manufacturers. This creates much room for portfolio diversification and introduction of new products for which the consumers look and to which they are open. These products are the driving force for the development of categories, therefore, the key players are obliged to incessantly develop new solutions and quickly respond to or even anticipate the needs.
Recently, we have entered categories that are completely new to us, which I believe to be a highly prospective direction of development. Production within new categories requires us to adapt solutions to the emerging challenges and to invest in technology. Quality and innovativeness are of crucial importance on the chocolate market. Therefore, on the one hand, we are concerned with top-quality raw materials – what makes us stand out includes the use of cocoa beans from Ghana, giving our chocolate a distinct taste, preservation of traditional recipes (Jan Wedel created the excellent Ptasie Mleczko® foam recipe in 1936!); on the other hand, we look for new solutions, attractive to younger consumers; examples include the decorated Ptasie Mleczko®, Czekotubki chocolate tubes or Wedel creams.
What sweet surprises can we expect soon?
In response to the increasingly common trend of functional food, we are introducing a new line of dark chocolates in which individual bars stand out with the content of Ghanaian cocoa extremely fit for chocolate. For enthusiasts of confectionery, we have created “Lekko Gorzka” (Light Dark chocolate) with a 50% cocoa content, “Gorzka Klasyczna” (Classic Dark chocolate) with 64% cocoa for slightly more daring consumers, and “Mocno Gorzka” (Strong Dark chocolate) with a 80% cocoa content for those searching for strong taste sensations. All chocolates from this line are a natural source of magnesium. We are also developing our offer in the area of jellies and candies – recently, we introduced Acid Frogs and Fruit Chameleons – featuring natural aromas and additions of fruit juices, with no artificial colouring. Another novelty is the TAK PROSTO line of functional candy bars, based on sesame and Wedel dark chocolate as well as delicious and healthy additions, such as cranberry, quinoa, sunflower or pumpkin seeds. With their ingredients, TAK PROSTO bars are a natural source of magnesium, fibre and unsaturated fats, and comprise a perfect proposal for a delicious snack. Since July, the Żabka chain of stores offers Wedel’s Ptasie Mleczko® Waniliowe vanilla ice cream, a ground-breaking product, first of its kind in our portfolio. Creating its recipe, we strove to make the ice cream capture the taste and appearance of the classic Ptasie Mleczko® foams. We have put all effort to make the ice cream and its chocolate coating complement each other perfectly, creating a unique entirety. Wedel also means jellies and candies from the children’s offer, as well as limited editions of our bestsellers, such as the summer version of the Ptasie Mleczko® foams: mango and coconut covered with white chocolate.