Market and export directions of dairy products

Monday, 10 October, 2016 Food From Poland 26/2016
Interview with Marek Maciejewski – Sales Department Manager at Sertop
The current period is not easy for the dairy industry, the market is unstable and affected by many external factors. Abolition of milk quotas, the “Russian” embargo and other similar external conditions make the prices on the market change dynamically. As we all know, the Polish dairy market does not differ from the European standards, evolving and responding to its environment similarly. Nevertheless, it is still growing and this trend is positive. Changes, particularly those related to the Russian embargo, forced Polish producers to look for new export directions. In particular, Polish producers are finding  new markets in the Middle Eastern countries, but also in far Asia, by which I mean China, India, Vietnam or South Korea.

What consumer trends are present on the processed cheese market? What are the expectations of Polish consumers and of foreign ones?

Processed cheese consumers, especially in Poland, are rather conservative in their choices, particularly in the case of the cheese types and flavour additions used for their production. However, their expectations have been changing in the recent years; therefore, we are continuously striving to adapt and change our offer. We introduce new tastes or packaging forms. The export market, be it European or worldwide, is not homogenous. We have to adjust our offer on an ongoing basis to the demands of local markets. Recently, we have expanded our offer by three new items in the “Jak dawniej” series of products packaged in 100 g long cubes. Currently, three attractive tastes are available: Edam, Smoked Gouda and Camembert. Nevertheless, we observe various consumer behaviours and preferences in different countries. They result from different cultural or historical conditions. For instance, the traditional 100 g cube, still being the “cornerstone” of the offer for Poland and the Czech Republic, is virtually unknown in other European countries. This mobilizes us to create products to be appreciated outside our territory.

What are the most attractive outlets for Polish dairy products?

Outside the Polish market, the most attractive markets are still the nearest ones, i.e. the Czech Republic, Slovakia, as well as Romania and the Balkan countries. Our products continue to enjoy much popularity in Israel. Recently, we have commenced deliveries to Sweden. We wish to go beyond the nearest countries – we are thinking about the Middle and Far Eastern markets. We are expanding our offer with new products and package types. Products packed in 140 g wheels of 8 wedges have a large and continuously growing share in sales to the export markets. We offer a wide range of these products, recently joined by two new ones, initially marketed to customers from the Balkan countries and currently, to other markets as well. We have also expanded our offer with a new packaging version, the so-called Family Pack. It is a 280 g wheel of 16 wedges in one economic package – two products: “Śmietankowy” cream processed cheese and “Mazurski” processed cheese analogue. Both of them have already found their recipients at home and abroad.

Please tell us about the most important awards and certificates granted to Sertop.

For many years, Sertop has been certified for quality standards. It is worth mentioning that we were the first processed cheese producer in Poland to obtain a quality certificate for the ISO Standard. But this is history. Currently, we are certifying for standards compliant with BRC and IFS. Our plant has a HACCP system in place for the entire production.

Last year, we were granted various awards and honorary mentions, including:
  • Statuette for outstanding quality for the “Jak dawniej” set of processed cheeses with the taste of: Smoked Gouda, Edam and Camembert at the Mleko–Expo Fair, Warsaw, Palace of Culture and Science.
  • The honorary patronage of the fair was the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
  • ”Outstanding Exporter 2015” – Congratulatory Letter, Title and Cup of the Association of Polish Exporters - for the Export Product of the Year 2015, i.e. export of processed cheese, at the 14th Congress of Polish Exporters, Ministry of Economy, 19 November 2015.
  • “Fair Play Enterprise” 2015 certificate as well as the Platinum Statuette for conformity with legal standards, universally accepted social norms and standards of fair conduct in mutual relations with customers, contractors, employees and local society.
However, the most important award is the favour and recognition our customers reflect on an everyday basis in stores, through their purchasing decisions.

What are your export plans?

The Sertop Sp. z o.o. company, in its current legal form, has been active on the market for 25 years, yet it has 50 years of tradition. Over this period, Sertop has managed to maintain its market share and has been constantly developing, increasing its potential and its presence on foreign markets.

We try to create an attractive offer, helping us maintain our position on the Polish market. Nevertheless, exports are an important and constantly developing part of our market.

In the nearest future, we plan to participate in the EU programme “Go to brand”, intended to support export activities on new markets. We are concerned with the acquisition of “bridgeheads” in countries with high consumption of processed cheese, i.e. the Arab countries. We are working on the adjustment of our products to the requirements of those markets. We hope that the support we gain will help us make efforts to enter the Asian countries and acquire customers in these distant regions.

tagi: Marek Maciejewski, Sertop, market, export,

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