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"Today's dairy market is highly competitive, therefore, we must do more than the others, stay a half-step ahead all the time," Marina Anikeeva thinks. "Success is a comprehensive term including a professional team, constant updating of manufacturing facilities, cost reduction, tedious work with resource base."
To stay competitive in the domestic and foreign markets, it is necessary to produce high-quality and wholesome products. Therefore, the enterprise approaches carefully to raw material suppliers. Fortunately, Grodno Region, the country leader in the quality of milk, has no problem with that.
The Director General notes: "Together with our suppliers, we pay much attention to the quality of milk. We believe that we always follow the same road with agricultural producers. This means that we have common problems. Having a particular focus on the resource base we always manage to have high-quality raw materials and end products."
Milk is the key pillar and core element of the production process. Notably, it has to be of the highest class and there must be plenty of it to meet the needs of the enterprise –Molochny Mir OJSC processes 1700 tons of milk per day!
It took a lot of effort to achieve this: dairy farms operation process has been completely reorganized, the feed supply base has been improved, providing animals with high-quality feedstuffs. Now it is obvious that this work has paid off. The quality of raw milk supplied to the plant is evidenced by the high – over 97 percent – share of the "extra" and "superior" varieties. A system of interaction with the suppliers of raw materials has been built, which includes audits, consultations of specialists of the main raw materials, thematic seminars, which in turn help to develop partnerships and solve important work issues.
As a result, the company provides customers with healthy and environmentally friendly dairy products. This is confirmed by numerous awards, such as "Best Taste", "Product of the Year", "Champion of Taste", "Brand of the Year", and dozens of others. Since 2002, our products have been adorned with the sign "Prize of the Government of the Republic of Belarus for Quality Achievements ". Since then, the company has become the permanent winner of this award, confirming its leading position among dairy processors both in Grodno Region and throughout Belarus.
A significant role in the acceleration of export markets development belongs to certification for the compliance of the systems of quality management and food products safety with the requirements of international organizations, including but not limited to the requirements of the major global brands.
The well-established quality of products, the use of advanced resource-efficient solutions, the implementation of the provisions of Quality Management System (QMS), the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) make the enterprise one of the country's leading dairy product exporters.
2019 was very productive for Molochny Mir OJSC in the field of foreign economic activity development. The consistently high demand and price level for dairy products in the global market and in the Russian Federation allowed the company to achieve high export sales level. The plant exported 26,070 tons of dairy products amounting to USD 84,883 thousand, which made 129.4 percent to the sales level of the last year.
"About a half of our products are sold in Belarus, the other half is exported. The shelves of domestic stores are full of dairy products. In general, the development of the dairy industry in the country has been influenced by the outright state policy aimed to maintain agriculture. High competition, as well as the factor of price moderation in our country, makes us seek for the sales markets in foreign states," Marina Anikeeva comments.
"However, the domestic, Belarusian market remains the most important for us. Over the nine months of 2020, the volume of supplied products (by the head enterprise) in the domestic market increased by 122 percent compared to the same period in 2019. In September, sales reached 9692.9 tons, which was 109 percent higher than in September of 2019."
As for the long-term strategy of the promotion of "Molochny Mir" dairy products, the Russian market remains the most attractive according to most of the evaluated criteria (demand for products, market capacity, brand recognition, purchasing power, the competitiveness of products in the foreign market, etc.).
"Naturalness is one of the main advantages of the enterprise's products. Such an image is extremely important today to win the loyalty of consumers, especially the demanding ones in Russia, with such a tough competition in the market.
However, the world economy requires the readiness to promptly solve the problem of geographic diversification of export markets. It needs time to refocus exports to the commodity markets of other countries. Over nine months of 2020, Molochny Mir OJSC has exported products worth USD 108.96 million. Third countries account for more than 44 percent," the Director General says.
Recently, the dairy products of Molochny Mir OJSC have been for the first time presented and highly praised in Egypt, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Cote d'Ivoire, Jordan, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. The volumes of supplies to China, Vietnam, Jordan have been increased. At the moment, products are delivered to more than 35 countries around the world. "On the international market, we compete with world-class industrial giants, the largest companies of the European Union and New Zealand. Molochny Mir is a commercially viable enterprise that does not request any additional funds for development, although it can always count on state support. The key to our financial solvency is well-coordinated and efficient work. A significant role in the export sales increase belongs to marketing support. The most important at the moment is merchandising and trade marketing (tastings, promotional offers, in-store advertising support). We travel to Italy, France, China, the Netherlands, Israel. We study and discuss what could be introduced at home. We put some things aside for the future to surprise the customers," continues Marina Anikeeva. "We systematically collect information from open sources, participate in business events, hold meetings and negotiations with partners, exchange experience with colleagues from other companies, visit industry exhibitions and forums, including in the territory of the market attractive for us, or in such a region."
The company is constantly working on modernization and technical re-equipment. Thus, in 2020, we launched a production line for sterilized milk bottling and a continuous operation butter maker with a packaging capacity of 430 g, 1 kg and 2 kg. It helped to increase sales in the markets of China, Singapore and Azerbaijan. The export markets are not equally ready for the enterprise's products. For example, in Azerbaijan, the growth of export volumes is facilitated by the fact that the Belarusian food products are associated with the highest quality, as well as by the successful functioning of the "Belaruski" chain of stores, with the products of "Molochny Mir" having high-profile shelf presence.
"Today, we live in a fast-changing environment: the consumers, especially the young generation, have not only adapted to fast changes but as well feel the need for them. They feel bored without product novelties and are highly sensitive to innovative ideas," Marina Anikeeva notes. "Therefore, the enterprise annually updates the product range. For instance, last year's novelties were "Krones with truffles", "Krones with bay leaf" cheeses. In 2020, the product line will be complemented by "Krones with olives".
Besides, the modernization of the cottage cheese production workshop is at the completing stage. A wide range of cottage cheese products will be presented to the consumers soon, both at the domestic and foreign markets.
The company's experts are actively working on sales markets diversification. There are many challenges along the way. The markets differ significantly in terms of existing trade barriers and the intensity of competition. Each of them requires careful study, development and implementation of sales expansion programs, and therefore calls for the corresponding resources.
The Kosher certificate has opened up ample opportunities for the company to export to the Israeli market, as well as to other countries where the kosher-marked products are popular. Also, back in 2014, the Halal certificate was received.
In 2018, the company's products were once again recognized for their quality – Molochny Mir OJSC received a Euro-veterinary number, which gives the right to supply products to the European Union member states and candidate countries. And since January 2019, the Molochny Mir trademark has been present in Poland, the Netherlands and Serbia.
The economic results of the company's activities always remain stable. Along with building up the export potential of the main commodity exchange items (cheese, butter, dry dairy products), the range of whole milk products – pasteurized and sterilized milk, yoghurts, glazed curd cheeses, fermented milk products and drinks – is expanding.
"I'm glad to note that there has not been a single ban on the import of our products in the non-CIS countries markets, which we entered after Russia. And there is nothing we can do to change the requirements for dairy products, for instance, in Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Cote d'Ivoire, or Myanmar," the head of the enterprise indicates.
While selecting a partner in Belarus, enterprises, both Belarusian and foreign, often address the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to get information about the reliability of a particular business entity, its registration status and the nature of the business activity. To help them choose, the BelCCI keeps the Register of Reliable Partners, a non-state register of the business entities of the Republic of Belarus. Molochny Mir OJSC was the first enterprise in Grodno Region to be included into the Register.
Marina Anikeeva underlines: "The core value of our company is a competent and professional team. There are more than two thousands of our employees! The dairy industry is a very demanding one. Indifferent people simply can't work here. Every activity requires teamwork and precision."
In a friendly, tight-knit team, as if in a delicate mechanism, everything is interconnected and designed for the common purpose: effective work and decent pay, provision of wealth and adequate working conditions, active recreation, interesting leisure activities – everything that unites and stimulates people.
The average team age is 38 years. There are labor dynasties, experienced specialists who have been working at the plant for decades. Young people come, start their families, and we take care of housing construction for the plant workers. The company has formed an inclusive social support system.
The experts at the Foreign Economic Activity Department accept no borders for "Molochny Mir" products. Despite their young age, their competency and professionalism are unequivocal. Director General notes: "We have a motto: if you want to change something for the better, start with yourself – improve your professional skills, be more attentive to colleagues, efficient, move forward, develop yourself and be an example to others. A lot of young people work at the enterprise, and they are forward-looking and result-oriented. Being the company head, I constantly communicate with the team, and I can read the vibes of the employees. These guys know their tasks, understand what needs to be done to succeed and know how to apply their skills."
Besides, the company makes a great contribution to the city life assuming extra responsibilities and social burden, supports the sports, cultural and social life of Grodno. The Cheese Festival that Molochny Mir has been holding since 2012 has already become the city's brand. For two days, the celebration turns Grodno into the cheese capital of Belarus, where the best cheesemakers come from all over the country to surprise the guests of the festival with a variety of cheese products.
Despite the advances made, "Molochny Mir" does not stop at what has been accomplished so far.
Not so long ago, the company launched a new product line named "Goroden", which is distinguished by the highest quality standards, because all new product items are made from top quality milk and enriched with protein, which means that they have become even healthier.
An automated line for milk and fermented milk products bottling and packaging, as well as equipment for the processing and packaging of sterilized and ultra-pasteurized milk and cream have already been put into operation. The new equipment is aimed to increase the shelf life of the products.
A balanced pricing policy plays an important role, based on continuous markets monitoring, studying of the price strategies of competitors, searching for reserves to reduce costs, which is especially important in the conditions when the price for raw material is going up. "The Molochny Mir employees are confidently moving forward and expanding horizons. And there is no doubt that we will make even more progress in the future," Marina Anikeeva believes.