Interview with Evangelos Evangelou, President of the Board, Herbapol-Lublin.
What is your evaluation of Herbapol-Lublin’s position in the Polish market?
We have been the undisputed market leader in the category of teas (fruit, herbal, red and functional) as well as fruit syrups for several years. We are in second place in the green tea and jam products categories.
The fact that our position has strengthened and we achieved excellent sales results once again this year is particularly important to us now, in the year of our company’s 70th anniversary. It is a time for recapitulation, evaluation of our activities so far and planning new, long-term development strategies and directions, which will strengthen Herbapol-Lublin’s position in both Polish and international markets.
Does your leading position in individual categories require continuous development?
From my perspective, as a leader, you have to be committed to creating new trends or skilfully transferring global trends into the local market, which we know very well thanks to our long-standing presence and extensive experience. Herbapol-Lublin continuously develops its current product portfolio by introducing new product varieties. At the same time, we work on new items to meet the changing expectations and needs of our consumers. Our own research laboratories, as well as internal and external verification of new recipes, ensure that consumers receive top-quality products. Over the last two years, we have broadened our product portfolio by introducing a new range of ready-to-drink drinks: Herbapol ice tea without colourants, preservatives or sweeteners, available in three flavours, which are excellent alternatives to coloured drinks sold on the market. We also introduced two varieties of herbal drinks: Beauty Horsetail, citrus fruit with green tea and Detox Nettle, quince with green tea. We are developing the Big-Active brand just as dynamically. Here, the new items include more variants of white tea and a new category of green teas from the lifestyle line: Energy guarana with Yerba Mate and Relax lemon balm with lavender, as well as the Think & Focus with ginko and cola nuts variant launched this year. Moreover, we have expanded our flagship Polish Herbarium line with three new herbal teas: Milk thistle, Hawthorn flowers and St. John’s wort. We are also continuously adapting our sesonal Herbapol range of limited editions of syrups, including flavours to warm you up in winter as well as refreshing variants for the summer.
In 2017, we also made our début in the HoReCa channel, where we are developing very dynamically. This wets our appetite for even more success in the future.
‘Yours by nature’ is a slogan reflected in current global market trends. Does Herbapol follow other trends?
The Herbapol brand is associated primarily with the rich herbal tradition in Poland. Since the company’s establishment in 1949, we have focused on respecting nature while also taking the best it has to offer. Our inspiration comes from the abundance and diversity of herbs whose properties can be rediscovered by consumers, among other things, thanks to our Polish Herbarium line. Tea Garden fruit teas also contain 100% natural ingredients. The first-class quality of our products is guaranteed through cooperation with verified suppliers and quality testing in our laboratories of herbs collected.
We do, of course, continuously observe global trends in the food market and successively add new products to our range. However, we treat them as an inspiration for our activities. First of all, this is because all of our products are based on recipes developed by our specialists, so every product in our range is truly ‘ours’ and unique. Secondly, we continue to pay attention to the preferences and expectations of Polish consumers, which have changed drastically over the years. Nowadays, they choose products which have a positive effect on their bodies and fit their active lifestyles more and more often. The healthy nutrition trend is particularly popular among people from the younger generation, who actively seek new products with natural ingredients or functional products that support daily bodily functions. Consumer awareness in terms of how correct nutrition affects the body has also increased considerably. More attention is now being paid to product contents and ingredients, which frequently determine the purchase decision. Active monitoring of consumer and market needs and trends enables us to effectively combine tradition with innovation and meet these expectations. We create products that match the pace of life and high demands of modern consumers.
Although a leader’s task is also to actively seek new solutions, unknown in the domestic market, we are aware that not all proposals are able to produce a positive reaction. This is due to multiple factors, such as climate conditions, seasonality of consumption, cultural aspects or certain deeply entrenched habits associated with the occasion and manner of tasting tea, which in Poland is a traditional infusion, consumed on a daily basis and all year round.
However, all our new items have so far been very well received by consumers and I believe that those launched in the market in 2019, our anniversary year, will also satisfy their tastes. I am thinking in particular about cold brew tea, which is brewed using either cold water or water at room temperature. This product is well-known outside Poland and I am curious about how customers will react to it.
You are also active in the field of corporate social responsibility. Can you tell me about your key areas of activity?
Every year, we donate products to organisations and institutions located near our branches in Lublin and Białystok. We want to reach smaller, local communities that need support but sometimes lack sufficient strength which would help them obtain additional funding or material support. As a company, we are naturally glad to be able to assist them since we realise this assistance is very important to them. However, we do not feel the need for a widespread campaign to promote what we do. We want to be close to people and this is what we do when it comes to community activity, by making product donations. It is our way of thanking them for the trust they have put in us for 70 years.
And how are Herbapol products doing in foreign markets? What is their potential in individual product categories?
Herbal teas, fruit syrups and jam products are increasingly popular among consumers abroad. The high quality of our products, their natural ingredients and lack of unnecessary additives certainly distinguish the Herbapol and Big-Active brands internationally. Growing consumer awareness about healthy lifestyles and nutrition also undoubtedly helps to strengthen our market position.
In what directions will Herbapol-Lublin’s exports develop?
This year, we are going to start selling our products in two new important markets, namely South Africa and Italy. At the same time, we will continue to develop our position and strengthen our presence in Germany, North America and Canada, where we have been for several years now. We are working to consolidate our position abroad just like we are in the Polish market.
What do consumers abroad expect from Herbapol products?
First and foremost, what matters is the high quality of our products, their natural ingredients and local character, resulting from long-term cooperation with domestic suppliers. Another distinguishing feature of Herbapol and Big-Active products is the unique combination of ingredients and flavours, as in the case of the Tea Garden series or Big-Active teas. Affordable pricing and packaging equal to that of western products are also important.
The fact that we did not become interested in products with natural ingredients when it became fashionable certainly creates additional value for consumers. Nature is Herbapol’s DNA, and combined with our knowledge and experience, it makes our products truly the best choice.