Marcin Zieliński, Business Development Director at Makarony Polskie, on the offer of two key brands in the portfolio, the convenience trend, and the benefits in offering tray-packed dishes.
What products are included under the So Food band? What makes this brand stand out on the market?
The offer of the So Food brand includes dishes inspired by cuisines of the world, Mexican, Indian, Japanese, or Korean style, as well as those familiar to Polish consumers, such as cabbage rolls or lecho in two versions: meat and vegetarian. Since the beginning of the work on the So Food brand, we have considered it crucial to prepare an offer of plant-based cuisine meals to satisfy the needs of consumers preferring a vegan or vegetarian diet and those interested in cutting down on meat in everyday diet. The entire development of this price category is inscribed in the DNA of the So Food brand. We open up to the consumer needs and requirements. We have noticed the “free” trend and the focus on removal of undesirable ingredients from the product, such as “lactose-free”, “preservatives-free”, etc. So Food is a brand dedicated to a demanding, conscious consumer. The products bearing the So Food logo are made of natural and healthy raw materials, with no preservatives, flavour enhancers or colouring. They provide a tasty offer for everyone who values high quality ingredients. The dishes we offer are meals convenient to prepare; it only takes 3 minutes in a microwave oven or on a frying pan, and they are ready. With different proposals, everyone will find something for themselves here. Our offer includes meals inspired by cuisines of the world, traditional cuisine, and plant-based cuisine. Our meals dedicated to vegans and vegetarians bear the V-label.
Equally interesting items are found under the other brand from the portfolio, which seems to combine tradition with the modern – Novelle…
We develop projects connected with salutogenic pasta, meeting the needs of consumers who are on a diet for health reasons. A considerable part of our work at the Research and Development Centre of the Pasta Industry in Rzeszów is focused on the development of such products as legume pasta, pasta with salutogenic plant additives, and pasta made of different kinds of flour. We have introduced high-protein pasta, we also conduct work on pasta for people with diabetes, we analyze other salutogenic functions of plants and try to introduce such products to the market. The flagship product of the Novelle brand is vegetable pasta, made of 100% legume flour. This year, we have also expanded our portfolio with pasta made of wholegrain flours: wheat, spelt, and rye. However, a salutogenic product is not always easy to commercialize. It is often a market niche and we have to devote some time to customer education, which slows down the popularization of such products. We are deeply convinced that our actions make sense and, apart from popularization of healthy types of rare flour pasta, they will also create greater awareness of consumers and, eventually, a better condition of their health.
Apart from the composition, both brands stand out with quick preparation of the meals. What is the significance of the convenience shelf among consumers today?
Consumers value convenience, so they look for simple solutions, not requiring long preparation. This is the reason for development of the convenience shelf full of meals ready for quick consumption. Consumers want to be able to make a tasty meal easily. They are increasingly willing to choose meals prepared in such a way to make a wholesome serving for one person, e.g. tray-packed ready dishes. This also helps avoid food wastage. It also means saving energy, water, gas, which is favourable to the environment and the household budget alike.
The category of ready dishes includes many categories. Why do you focus on tray-packed products? What are the benefits?
For many years, a trend can be noticed on European markets, namely the development of the segment of tray-packed and cup-packed ready dishes at the expense of the steadily shrinking shelf of jarred products. In Poland, the so-called dry shelf still has the largest market share, but even there, one can clearly see a gradual departure of consumers towards the refrigerated shelf. Among other things, this results from a strong convenience trend. Manufacturers look for increasingly new solutions to make it easier for a consumer to heat up the meal and eat it. Under the So Food brand, we utilize mechanisms known for generations from the preparation of long-lasting jarred products in order to preserve tray-packed dishes without preservatives but only with high temperatures. Especially in the current time of high energy prices, trade chains and consumers alike should appreciate the lack of necessity of keeping these products under refrigerated conditions.
Which products will prove themselves in exports and why?
Export goods must be attractive, so for the purpose of exports, we focus on the offer of ready meals. European consumers value our So Food oriental dishes: Chicken in Red Curry, Chicken in Bittersweet Sauce, and Tikka Masala Chicken. Tray-packed ready meals are definitely more popular in the EU countries than in Poland, so we are currently focusing on the development of these markets. The other category of products that should succeed in exports is vegetable and salutogenic pasta. Our legume pasta is very highly appreciated by consumers at home and abroad, and it makes us able to compete with manufacturers from other countries.