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Grodno Meat-Packing Plant JSC is a modern full-cycle meat processing enterprise. Today, it is one of the best-known and largest Belarusian enterprises in its sphere, with its products, represented by more than 450 types, making an indispensable dish on any festive table. Excellent taste and high quality of the Grodno MeatPacking Plant delicacies are highly valued by consumers both in Belarus and abroad. This fact is confirmed by the consistently high results at the "Best Exporter of the Year" contest. In his interview, Oleg Ivanov, Director General, told us about the company's success strategy.
Oleg Vitalyevich, Grodno Meat-Packing Plant has been awarded the title of the "Best Exporter of the Year" republican contest winner for several years in a row. In addition, for many years the company has been among the contest finalists and laureates, which testifies to a consistently successful promotion of products abroad. Could you please tell us, what is your formula "Success is ..."?
The secret of our company's success lies in simple and understandable things. They are the well-coordinated work of the team, the excellent taste and high quality of products, which are achieved through strict adherence to technological processes.
It is due to this that our products have become a kind of a quality standard and are in demand.
Over years, our team has walked right to the significant results in the contest, as well as in export activities in general: we systematically brought production to meet the international standard requirements, renewed workshops, purchased modern equipment, introduced new processing technologies.
Our team was the first in Belarus to receive certificates of international compliance STB ISO 9001 and STB 1470, STB ISO 22000, which guarantees the safety and high quality of the Grodno Meat-Packing Plant meat products. All our production facilities meet the stringent conditions of these standards – hence, we succeed in the market.
Today's buyer can choose from a large variety of meat products from different manufacturers. And given this level of competition, it is far from easy to maintain the highest standards. But this is what in many ways does not allow us to relax and contributes to the continuous movement forward on the way to conquering new taste peaks. We have always acknowledged that the time will come when we will have to win over competitors both in quality and price, and we have been preparing for this by improving production, expanding the range and improving the quality of our products. In order to gain a foothold in those foreign markets where special conditions are imposed on meat products, we have received the BelHalal certificate of compliance.
Which countries represent the export geography of the Grodno Meat-Packing Plant? Which of them have always been and remain a priority for you?
The Grodno Meat-Packing Plant products are well known outside of Belarus. The geography of supplies is constantly expanding and includes Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Jordan, Malaysia, Vietnam. At the same time, Russia remains our main foreign trade partner. They love our products in Russia. Belarusian approaches to quality, traditional recipes, brand awareness ensure high consumer loyalty and demand. Moreover, in spite of any difficulties, we uphold our good name and would never produce cheaper products from low-cost raw materials.
About 30 percent of the goods are exported. One of the main tasks of the plant today is to increase meat products export potential and diversify our supplies. To achieve it, we use advanced production technologies. Our assortment range includes products to satisfy each customer, regardless their taste preferences or budget.
Do the products supplied differ depending on the destination country? Which countries in your export geography have the most demanding consumers? And how do you manage to meet their needs?
The global market is flexible. And despite the obvious advantages of our meat products, we have to prove our competitiveness every time. Before entering a new market, we thoroughly study the specifics of the region and its consumers. As we work with our partners, we at some point try to be psychologists, and if necessary, we make certain concessions. In addition, we are listening to customer feedback and try to satisfy everyone's taste preferences as much as possible.
If we talk about the products designated for the distant frontiers of our export geography, in this case, sausages with a long (up to four months) shelf life are in particular demand and relevance. They can easily travel to Sakhalin, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk, Vladivostok, are widely represented in Western Siberia. Even if it takes 15-20 days to deliver them, there is still enough time for them to be sold out. However, I would like to note that our products never find no market for a long time.
Grodno Meat-Packing Plant actively participates in exhibitions and expositions in Belarus and abroad, where products receive many awards. Do you find participation in such activities effective?
I believe participation in exhibitions and contests to be not only an additional opportunity to demonstrate your products, present novelties to potential buyers and partners, but also a way to study trends in your field, compare yourself with competitors and exchange experience. And victories in such contests, first of all, stimulate the manufacturer to new achievements, to improve the quality and competitiveness of the products.
On the other hand, it is also always a pleasure for customers to learn about the achievements of the company and taste the award-winning products – i.e. this is another way to win consumer attention. In short, exhibitions and contests enhance brand recognition and prestige in the world market.
The meat-packing plant product range includes foreign meat delicacies: Parma ham, prosciutto, palermo, jamon... How do you master new technologies, so that consumers in the Belarusian market have the opportunity to enjoy these products?
The company always strives for the most natural production, based on traditional and consumer-recognized recipes. At the same time, we understand that time dictates new rules – traditional products alone are not enough, and a creative, innovative approach to the creation of each product is very important. After all, the buyer needs to be won over, the interests of various consumer groups need to addressed: with different purchasing power, children and adults, experimenters... In addition, the product should not only be interesting to consumers in taste, but also to attract attention with its beautiful design, be a kind of a work of art.
Therefore, we are experimenting, looking for new tastes around the world, studying consumer demand. A team of talented people, true professionals, is working on each new product. Having tried many options, we get the recipe with an ideal ingredients ratio, with the unique taste, which, after a while, becomes the company's hallmark.
This is exactly what happened with Italian delicacies. The tastes of Italy are very bright and inspire many people. Having adopted the experience directly at the production facilities in this country, for the first time in Belarus we mastered the mass production of Italian delicacies: Pepperoni salami, Parma ham, Prosciutto ham, Palermo ham, Grodno jamon. Today, they are very popular with consumers.
What makes the meat products from Grodno particular? How do you manage to successfully compete with other producers, given the meat products market in Belarus is quite large?
Today, there are many good Belarusian enterprises in the market that produce quality products. However, it was on the western borders of our country that the culture of meat processing was founded in the old days. In this region, people have long been associated with the production of meat products. Perhaps this is the secret why there is an enterprise in the Grodno region that holds a leading position in the industry. We adhere to traditions, we produce a classic product, but we also keep up with the times.
The products of Grodno Meat-Packing Plant are made from proven raw materials from own raw material zone using modern high-performance equipment and advanced technologies. In addition, a detailed control system has been developed at the production sites, which allows tracing any deviations from quality and safety standards at all production stages – from raw materials to finished products.
By the way, another advantage to attract local consumers is the own store chain of Grodno Meat-Packing Plant, branded "Grodzenskija Prysmaki" ("Grodno Delicacies"). There are stores in Lida, Grodno and Minsk. These are not just stores with a wide range of the enterprise's products. They are specially designed and thoroughly thought-out stores with high-quality products to please our customers.
How is the enterprise doing in the current year, which has been rich in challenges? What goals and objectives have you set, and do you feel confident about achieving them?
The enterprise has been actively developing over the past years, increasing production volumes. 2022 has been no exception. Despite all the difficulties associated with logistics, banking, and others, the enterprise's production sites are fully operational. We do not only manage to meet all the obligations, fixed in the plant development business plan, but also exceed them.
Being the head of the enterprise that repeatedly confirms its success in foreign markets at the "Best Exporter of the Year" contest, what recommendations would you give to other Belarusian manufacturers who want to be recognized by foreign buyers?
The competition is increasing year by year, so monitoring the market situation and analyzing information, consumer demand, following trends are the main things for the successful development of any enterprise and the expansion of export supplies.
Though the task to increase production volumes while maintaining the highest level of quality is evident, only competent manufacturers can achieve it. The ones that do not rest on their laurels of fame, but do more and more for further development, ensure stable quality, so that anyone who purchase their products really enjoy them.