An interview with Zenon Daniłowski, the President of the Board of Makarony Polskie S.A.
How do the exports of Polish pasta products look like?
Poland is a medium-sized pasta producer; our country manufactures approx. 150,000 tons annually. For comparison, Turkey or Egypt produce over one million tons, and Italy – several million tons of pasta per year. In our country, the level of exports is similar to imports. We mainly export pasta containing or entirely made of Polish raw materials, i.e. pasta flour and eggs. The high quality and availability of raw materials is extremely important for competitiveness on the market.
What does the export offer of Makarony Polskie S.A. include?
The export offer of Makarony Polskie is dominated by pasta made of imported semolina mixture and soft flour derived from Polish wheat varieties. A major advantage of Polish producers is the availability of high-quality liquid eggs, which makes egg pasta manufactured in Poland better than anywhere else. This is appreciated by foreign consumers as well, which is why our products enjoy much interest in many countries.
What are the export directions of pasta products?
Our company successfully exports pasta to different countries but the most important recipients are our neighbours. Pasta is a bulky product, so it is pointless from the economic viewpoint to transport it over large distances. Our main outlet is Ukraine. Currently, we are searching for customers willing to buy more expensive assortments in the Middle East and in China.
What do foreign consumers make of your products?
The products by Makarony Polskie have a good opinion among consumers. The customers particularly appreciate the high quality and competitive prices. Polish small and medium companies often lack appropriate funds to conduct brand-building strategies on markets of the neighbouring countries, which is why most of our products in and outside the EU appear under the importers’ private labels.
Currently, we cooperate with 23 contractors in and outside the European Union. They are our regular customers and it is to them we send most of our products. We expect to have more of them.
How important for the company is the private label segment?
Currently, production under private label brands is an important segment in Poland, but in many other countries as well. The share of private label products in some categories exceeds 50%. This is well exemplified by discount chains whose private labels are often market leaders in certain categories. This phenomenon is applicable to pasta, jams and household chemicals alike. Our company produces private labels for many chains at home. We have a record of good contracts, allowing us to achieve high turnover with an attractive margin.
Do you search for private label customers abroad?
We are highly interested in finding private label contractors outside Poland. This is why we participate in the PLMA trade fair in Amsterdam, as well as SIAL in Shanghai. During the fairs, we promote such products as egg pasta, rolled pasta and ready meals on trays, to be reheated in traditional or microwave ovens. I think we have an opportunity to become a supplier of such products under trade chain brands. We have a very well-developed research centre; combined with our great production potential, high quality and flexibility, we are able to meet the expectations of distributors and consumers in the category of pasta and ready meals. We can quickly adapt to our contractor’s requirements; In short, we are open to cooperation.
Please sum up the hitherto operations of Makarony Polskie on export markets.
In the first quarter of the year, exports accounted for approx. 8% of our entire sales. We mainly implemented sales to markets in the neighbouring countries. Export activities at our company are continuously developing. Spaghetti, Bucatini, and Linguine are the most popular pasta types. These are our export gems, apart from their good opinion among the consumers, they are easy to handle logistically, allowing us to send them to as far as Asia. As for other products, there is interest in the traditional “matchsticks for broth”. We sell this pasta in large quantities through one trade chain in England.
What will be next year’s export hit?
We expect our ready meals to become future export hits. We offer an entire line of Polish cuisine dishes; moreover, we have fit dishes as well as those from different cuisines of the world. As we adapt to the customers’ needs, more taste lines may be created. It is our participation in trade fairs abroad that allows us to present our production capabilities to the entire world, as well as to establish contacts with future customers.
What future goals have you set for yourselves?
We set our goals in two directions. The first one is a wider introduction to foreign markets of rolled technology egg pasta, of the nest, tagliatelle and pappardelle types. Our company makes very high-quality pasta. It is among the best on the market and it enjoys much interest. Moreover, we wish to increase the exports of health-improving pasta based on flour made of legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, soy, green peas, and based on rare seeds, such as buckwheat, rye, millet, maize and rice, as well as mixtures thereof. It is worth stressing they are very innovative pasta products. Another goal for the next year is to introduce our ready meals to Western European trade chains. In this segment, we offer a wide range of dinner dishes on trays, as well as an entire line of canned ready meals, i.e. full dinner meals and soups. This is our offer for the next fairs and we wish to enter foreign markets with it this and next year.