Interview with Małgorzata Cebelińska, Director of Trade Department at SM MLEKPOL in Grajewo.
The products of SM Mlekpol are well known to Polish consumers. Are they recognized abroad as well? Which brands are the most popular on individual markets?
Mlekpol has created the most recognizable dairy product brands in Poland. Our flagship brand is Łaciate, but our portfolio also includes the famous Maślanka Mrągowska, Milko, Rolmlecz, Mazurski Smak, Mleko Zambrowskie, Białe, and Milatte. To foreign consumers, Mlekpol also offers brands specially dedicated to their markets. These include the Happy Barn and Milcasa brands, already well known to foreign consumers.
On foreign markets, as in Poland, the Łaciate brand (milk, creams and butter) still remains the most popular. This is an extremely well-liked brand, and its nice, simple and homely character arouses very positive emotions among the consumers. The cornerstones of this brand include true values and many decades of history. Łaciate has become synonymous with top-quality Polish milk coming from the cleanest regions of Poland, i.e. Podlasie and Masuria. It can be purchased in more than 100 countries on most continents of the world.
The previous year saw large investments at SM Mlekpol. What are the effects of the undertaken actions? Does it involve export activities as well?
Our motto is development, which means constant investments. Mlekpol can boast an export success. This year, we are marketing many new products. We are also completing our most important investment in the recent years – the construction of Poland’s largest Powdered Dairy Goods Production Plant in Mrągowo. This will be the most modern milk powder plant in Poland, with a planned capacity of 3 million liters of milk and whey per day. Therefore, the production capacities and the product offer of Mlekpol in this segment will soon rise significantly. We are happy we will be able to offer completely new products to our Partners, namely, high-purity milk and whey proteins, instant products as well as infant formulas.
How large is SM Mlekpol's offer to its foreign partners?
Mlekpol’s offer includes more than 400 products. For instance, in 2018 Mlekpol shipped a record-breaking quantity of UHT milk – approx. 1000 containers – to China alone. This was a full assortment of milk in one-liter and 500 ml packages, with fat content ranging from 0% to 3.8%, as well as flavoured milk in 200 ml packages. Considering the entirety of our export, we can say the products enjoying the most interest from foreign contractors include Łaciate milk and creams as well as milk powders and whey products. Our chief external market comprises the European Union countries where we send a wide range of products, including the short-term ones. The Cooperative’s products now have recipients in South America, Asia and the Far East as well. Our brands, such as Łaciate, can be found in such countries as China, the USA, Libya, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, or the Philippines. An increasing number of products with a long shelf life, as well as frozen products such as butter or mozzarella cheese reach these markets.
What are the trends on foreign dairy markets and how does your offer fit in with them?
Functional foods are gaining interest on foreign markets. On this account, Mlekpol relies on surveys by the Institute for Dairy Industry Innovation, the only such facility in Poland to study the preferences and needs of dairy consumers worldwide. The effects of this cooperation are Mlekpol products with a composition suitable for each market, made of top-quality Polish milk. A good example is the Milko Acti Vege yogurt. The combination of top-class natural yogurt with vegetables and fiber turned out to be last season’s hit, not only in Poland.
Product safety, reproducibility and high quality are very significant on foreign markets. Foreign customers pay much attention to the composition of products, packaging and milk origin. Mlekpol fits these worldwide trends perfectly.