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Trained at a business school in the West, Nicolae Ciuleac returned to Romania in 1990, after in 1978, migrated to Austria. After entering the business with meat, CARNIPROD SRL owner had to invest not less than 14 millions euro, of which only 3 millions were accessed through the SAPARD program, reaching now the highest technological level, „like not even in the West are many companies”, as the principal shareholder likes to say. About the company’s business development of CARNIPROD, Mr. Nicolae Ciuleac told us in to below interview.
„I notice a shift in consumers’ habits towards cheap products of poor quality”
Fabrica de Carne (Meat Factory magazine): Mr. Nicolae Ciuleac, how did it end 2012 and which was the evolution of society in the first quarter of 2013?
Nicolae Ciuleac: The past year ended unexpected badly for CARNIPROD, although we made great efforts to minimize the crisis effects which affect the global economy in general and the EU in particular. The production of meat products in 2012 was with 12% lower than the previous year and 62% lower than in 2008; in the first quarter of 2013, production was 16% lower than in the same period of 2012 and the trend is still downward. The cause of this low level of production is the decrease in of meat sales.
There is a shift in consumer preferences, manifested by increased interest in fresh meat against prepared meat. Also, the quantities purchased by consumers are lower than the previous years, while requesting the lowest price products, although these cheap products have lower nutritional characteristics. I want to emphasize that not only the crisis led to this reality, but other causes such as:
disproportionately low income of the population in relation to the prices of livelihood on the Romanian market and here I mean the price of energy, gas, fuel, raw materials for food, medicine, utilities and so on; high costs of agricultural production and insufficient subsidies for this which determine high prices of raw and auxiliary materials; lack of means of filtering food producers, so that those who put on the market products of uncertain composition to be spared by the great mass of consumers; the systematic induction to the consumer awareness the idea that all meat producers introduce in their products large amounts of additives and harmful ingredients without nutritive qualities, and that all of them pursue only for profit, mixing serious companies like CARNIPROD and several others with the ones that have no reputation in the field, but whose products are placed in the most favorable positions on the supermarkets shelves, which are the most purchased thanks very low price; these companies can afford low prices for their products because are made with very cheap components (mechanically deboned meat, rind emulsion, the worst quality meat and many additives to compensate the lack of organoleptic characteristics).
I want to be understood: the companies that continously use high quality raw materials CANNNOT HAVE LOW COSTS, so they cannot decrease the prices!
„The market is declining”
FDC: How did CARNIPROD experience the adverse events on the meat Romanian market this spring?
NC: It was not a direct influence, because since the end of 2011 we have established a series of measures regarding the serious assessment of providers, the way the reception of raw and auxiliary materials is done, as well as the safety analyzes to be made (for example, we determined that from each beef to make the analysis of species). Those events, however, had an adverse effect indirectly, because they increased distrust of meat products on the market. And here I refer to the products of all manufacturers.
FDC: How do you assess the progress of meat products market in Romania?
NC: The market of these products is now falling, as shown above. I consider that if Romanian authorities continue to neglect the support of agriculture and food industry, especially the meat, the future will not be very favorable. It is true that serious producers must mobilize and improve the products supplied to the market. They also need to act firmly to identify counterfeiters and to expose their products.
There is also necessary the state intervention which should impose mandatory prescriptions for meat products, generally available nationwide, as in other countries, and to follow their strict compliance by all manufacturers and those unfair to be banned.
„The novelties from CARNIPROD were very well received by the consumers”
FDC: What were CARNIPROD’s news for this first part of the year?
NC: In the first half of the year we launched four new products. Among these, two (EXTRA chicken salami and pork breast roulade) were very well received and are still required. From our experience so far, we found that most receptive to new products manifests in the second half of the year, because in the first part of the year consumers still have stocks of products from the winter celebrations, then follows the Easter, which determines a severe decrease of the sales in general and especially for novelties, and hot weather is characterized by increased amounts of meat rolls and steak for barbeque. Starting with the end of August, Romanians’ appetite for meat products increases and then we adapt as well to this situation.
FDC: To what extent has developed the sales network of CARNIPROD company?
NC: Last year we tried to sell our products through large chain retailers existing in our country. For this we conducted a sustained action to promote our preparations and we established contracts with the so-called retail platforms. Unfortunately, these traders are concerned only about their direct profits and do not hesitate to invent all sorts of taxes and conditions favorable only for them. Currently the relation with retailers are cold, about to freeze. In these conditions, we continued to expand our own network of stores located closer to Tulcea county, so that the transport costs to be minimal. We currently operate 21 stores and the expansion continues.
FDC: What are the projects pursued by CARNIPROD in 2013?
NC: This year represents for CARNIPROD a jubilee: celebration of the 20th anniversary since the establishment of the company. For this we prepared a series of actions to properly mark the two decades of operation and positive development. The actions will consist in the development and the launch of a representative product, specially designed for this event, a series of meetings with our major customers, visits to the suppliers of raw and auxiliary materials, the publication in the specialized magazines of articles on specific topics according to the profile of the company.
A major goal is to maintain on the market without resorting to personnel dismissal.
We also aim to maintain a high level of integrated management operation that we have implemented and which is based on no less than 6 international standards. Among these: the International Food Standard and British Retail Consortium standards, food safety standards extremely severe.
In terms of product quality we are concerned with maintaining the validity terms of our products while reducing to the minimum the additives in our meat products. We also act to increase the percentage of meat from own sources by increasing the capacity in our pig farms by building new halls and modernizing the existing ones.
FDC: Thank you!