Apart from sales on the Polish market, you are dynamically developing your operations in more than 30 countries. Which directions are of most importance to you? Do you plan to introduce your products to new markets?
Dr Gerard is becoming an increasingly important player on the Central and Eastern European markets: Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic where we already have a strong position in select categories, e.g. a 13% share in terms of value in wafer sales in Romania (family packages), an 8% share in terms of value in the segment of filled cookies in Slovakia, and a share of more than 18% in value in the crackers mix segment in Hungary. Other important directions include the Middle East, where we cooperate with key distributors, as well as Eastern markets, such as Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine. The Dr Gerard products will soon be available for purchase in the largest trade chains of that region, such as Magnit or Lenta.
You can boast a very broad portfolio. Which products enjoy most interest outside Poland?
In exports, as in domestic sales, we focus on unique products, only available in the portfolio of Dr Gerard, such as cream cakes, made of two fluffy biscuits with silky cream in between and a bit of fruit jam, or Mafijne – a unique double sandwich cookie consisting of three crispy cookies separated with two layers of delicious cream. Other products enjoying much popularity include wafer rolls, offered in as many as seven flavours, and chocolate wafers in the form of tiny cakes (PryncyTorcik).
Do you pay attention to current trends while expanding your portfolio? What is currently en vogue among sweet and salty snacks?
We observe the trends very carefully and consider them when creating new cookies. The most recent trends include unobvious taste combinations, such as salt caramel or chocolate & chili, which is why we will soon introduce sweet cocoa pretzels with chili and sea salt. Another very strong trend is the so-called “healthy cookies” in which the most important things are a short and clear ingredients list as well as natural additives (vegetables, fruit, seeds). In response to this trend, a completely new cookie line is being created, including millet flour cookies with cocoa and beets or cookies with cauliflower flour and herbs. Not only is this trend addressed through the creation of new products but it also motivates us to improve the existing recipes, e.g. we are gradually removing palm oil from our products. It is worth mentioning that, despite new trends, what consumers invariably look for in cookies is simply pleasure, so we care a lot about the unique taste and top quality of our products.
Have the last 12 months been successful to you? What was the greatest challenge in export activities?
Our export sales in 2018 increased by 5%, accounting for as much as 31% of the entire company now, so we can definitely say the last year was successful. In export activities, as in all the operations of our company, we put strong emphasis on the creation of a competitive offer – unique, well-priced, and, above all, tasty.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
In 2019, we intend to reinforce our position in CEE and the Middle East, as well as operate intensely on the Russian market.