Nemanja Knezevic, Director of Marketing and Development at Zlatiborac – We aim to use local ingredients only
Zlatiborac was founded in 1992 with the idea of raising the volume of the production of the increasingly popular deli meats from Zlatibor made by the Stojanovic family, while basically keeping the traditional concept. With great effort and dedication, as well as serious investments, the idea has been realized. We talked to Nemanja Knezevic, Director of Marketing and Development at Zlatiborac and the winner of the award for the best marketing manager in Europe in 2018 at the ceremony held on July 5 in Sarajevo, about how Zlatiborac has become a leader in its category in the local, regional and the foreign market, having won the Superbrands award for the third time.
eKapija: How satisfied are you with the business results in the past period?
– The results from the first quarter of the current business year speak in favor of the company`s growth, as all plans, both in the local and in the foreign market, have been exceeded. If we take into account the fact that we established a new product category only two years ago, our business results are excellent in both categories. Based on the trends so far and our plans for the business year 2018, we hope that the trend of growth will continue.
eKapija: Will this mean new investments?
– Two years ago, we had a big investment and entered new production categories. Last year, we completed the very important project of the construction of a waste water treatment system. The construction of this system, which has a capacity of 600 m3 per day, means that our natural recipient, the river Krivaja, which belongs to the IIa category of waters in the national classification, now gets clean, filtered water from us, of better quality than the water in the river itself. There are continuous investments in the implementation and development of new technologies, market research, and we are the most proud of the fact that we are tirelessly investing in each employee, as we believe that the employees are the most important resource of each company.
eKapija: Will there be new employments as well?
– The Zlatiborac family now consists of 700 employees. Concerning the employees, I must emphasize that, in addition to those in the company, 150 promoters also work each day on the realization of the corporate mission in the market of Serbia. When a company is growing, it is natural for the number of employees to grow as well, and new employments are planned and are in line with our development strategy.
eKapija: In what way do you combine traditional production and new technologies?
– Zlatiborac is one of the rare companies, not just in Serbia, but in the world, that has managed to keep the traditional way of production, involving drying on beech wood. From a small family-owned drying facility, we have grown into a production complex which complies with the strictest global standards in the production of food – HACCP, HALAL, EAC, IFS. We have transformed, implemented new technologies, but remained faithful to the tradition.
eKapija: What are your production capacities today?
– The production capacities of Zlatiborac take up over 35,000 m2, with the drying facility, which is over 130 years old, at the core. It is surrounded by 46 traditional drying facilities, built in line with the principles under which the first products from the Stojanovic family home were made, dating back to the second half of the XIX century. However, the scope of the business expands constantly, which reflects on the production capacities. This is certainly shown by the fact that there`s a whole sector in the company dedicated to the expansion of production capacities and their preparation – the Construction Operations Sector.
eKapija: Which markets do you sell your products in? How much do you export?
– The company currently operates in 11 exporting markets, with a constant tendency to grow. Zlatiborac has been operating the markets in the region (Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia) for a long time. Our company has met all the criteria and has been put on the list of authorized exporters to the EU market, and at the moment we also export to the markets of Sweden and Austria, while having active negotiations with interested importers from several other EU countries. Also, since several years ago, we have been actively exporting to the markets of Iraq, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Russia. Several years ago, we founded our own company in Russia, Zlatiborac Trade, aiming to expand Zlatiborac`s position in the market. The UAE and China are also interested in our brand and activities towards the harmonization of exporting procedures are in progress.
eKapija: What does Zlatiborac`s production portfolio consist of today?
– The Zlatiborac portfolio consists of over 50 products, featuring well designed, quality packaging and split into two categories: durable deli meat products and semi-durable deli meat products. The category of durable products consists of 30 products, available in bulk, vacuum and protective atmosphere form, which can be split into several groups: hams, sausages and salamis, bacon, lard and cracklings. Thanks to its long tradition in the making of meat products, Zlatiborac started producing semi-durable products in 2016 - boiled deli meats.
eKapija: To what extent do the ingredients in Serbia meet your requirements and where do you procure the meat?
– Since its founding, Zlatiborac has established a stable and quality pool of raw materials through long-term contracts with farms and registered individual producers. We try to get as many ingredients as possible from Serbia. As you know, the livestock fund in Serbia is not enviable and the meat industry suffers greatly because of it. Of course, due to this and the lack of our own farming capacities, we are forced to import ingredients from reputable producers in Europe. We aim to use local ingredients only and I believe this will be possible in the future.
eKapija: How is your distribution organized?
– We are one of the rare companies which have their own distribution. The distribution network in the Republic of Serbia consists of five regional sales centers, with seats in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis, Kragujevac and Mackat. The company currently has its own fleet as well, consisting of over 180 vehicles. With the opening of several regional sales centers, which have over 650 pallet spaces, we have created all the conditions for an efficient supply of retail chains, smaller stores and the HoReCa chain. At the same time, having our own distribution provides us with full control in the products safety control chain.
eKapija: What are your further plans?
– Our goal is to establish new categories in the upcoming period and become much more than a deli meat producer in the foreseeable future. The products of Zlatiborac are already recognizable as carriers of the Made in Serbia tag and we will do our best to fortify this position, but we will also include new categories in our current portfolio, which we`ve been developing with great dedication for some time now.
eKapija: How important are awards such as Superbrands to you?
– This is the third time in a row that Zlatiborac has won the Superbrands award, which speaks to the continuity of our quality, which has been recognized. This award is that much more important to us knowing that it is the results of the deliberation of an expert jury, but also of a public survey. Our quality, dedication and corporate social responsibility have been recognized by both experts and citizens. In a way, each award is a confirmation that you are doing a good job. I think that this award confirms that we`ve managed to build and maintain the brand as a team, being determined to maintain its value system at a time when, you`ll agree, it is not an easy task.