About current trends on the dairy market, products’ innovations and main export directions we talk with Małgorzata Cebelińska, Sales Director at SM Mlekpol – one of the biggest dairy products producers from Poland.
What are the current trends on the dairy market? How does Mlekpol respond to the new needs?
Many trends in the food sector, including the dairy industry, have strenghtened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mean the production safety, high quality and Polish origin of the product. These ideas have been guiding Mlekpol for years. We always strive to meet the expectations of our consumers and respond to their needs. Consumer patriotism and an interest in locally-made products has increased during the pandemic. Furthermore, the demand for products with a long shelf life, in larger, economy packages, has increased. An equally important factor, especially for younger consumers, is to protect the protection of our planet. Our social awareness with regard to climate change and environmental protection is gradually increasing. Mlekpol’s strategy fits in with these trends. We aim at our business to generate the lowest carbon footprint possible. For example, the Łaciate brand has introduced innovative cardboard packaging fully recyclable and made from 89% renewable raw materials.
What innovative products has your company presented recently?
Mlekpol is a conscious dairy producer. We cooperate with outstanding experts from the Dairy Industry Institute of Innovation in Mrągowo on development of new products, resulting from the current trends and consumers’ expectations. As a result of our collaboration, we regularly expand Mlekpol’s product portfolio. In the 4th edition of the “Golden Innovations of FMCG & Retail 2021” competition, our Łaciaty cream cheese was awarded in the “Dairy” category. The Indian style cream cheese with hemp and black cumin has been appreciated by consumers for its innovative taste. We have also introduced a new line of crème fraiche cream dips. This is an interesting proposal for those who look for surprising taste combinations. The dips are made of a combination of Mlekpol’s cream with delicious additives. We have offered our consumers 3 taste variants: garlic and herbs; caramelized onions and cheddar; tomatoes, red pepper and chili.
In which countries are Polish dairy products enjoying most popularity? What are your directions of development or plans for the future?
Mlekpol’s products are appreciated in many countries over the world. Our assortment is present on five continents. Apart from the high, stable sales in the European countries, we are constantly developing our cooperation with Far Eastern countries likeChina, Vietnam, Korea, or Cambodia. The pandemic period has also caused increased demand for Mlekpol’s products in Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. The Middle Eastern countries show potential for growth of sales. They have significantly increased their dairy products import recently. Our plans for the future include further development of cooperation with African markets. These countries, due to their demographics and production deficits, need to import milk and they offer prospects of a long-term cooperation.
What is the foreign opinion about Polish dairy?
Polish milk is well-known on many markets all over the world. For many years, we have been exporting almost 30% of the Polish production. As Mlekpol, from the very beginning, we have been focusing on the production of safe, top-quality products. The use of the best Polish raw material helps us keep the high quality and the unique taste of our products. Knowledge of the requirements of different export markets made Mlekpol decide to tighten the quality standards for raw material in relation to current legal regulations. This is an important criterion which is always met thanks to the education and everyday discipline of the Mlekpol’s suppliers. This is the reason why the products of our Cooperative are trusted, guaranteeing good taste and quality to consumers in Poland and abroad.
How do you sum up 2021 from the viewpoint of development on foreign markets?
Development on the foreign market was very difficult in 2021. The main reason was the supply chain disruption, related shortages of containers, and high freight rates. Currently, export shipments to Asian countries are the smoothest to implement, which is in line with the growing demand. Unfortunately, the negative situation related to transportation effectively block our development on African as well as Central and South American markets. Cooperation with foreign customers, in a very difficult and uncertain time of the pandemic, has been focused on the purchase of essential products with long shelf lives. Therefore, UHT products like milk and creams, cheese, butter, or powdered products, were the ones most needed. Despite complex work and many difficulties, especially connected with the growing operation costs, Mlekpol will end the year with another record in terms of milk purchase (over 2 billion litres), achieved revenues, and export growth.