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Interview with Mr. Ovidiu Dusleag, President of RMA and CEO of Caroli Foods Romania
Mr. Ovidiu Dusleag, in his double capacity of CEO of the largest meat processing company from Romania as well as President of the Romanian Meat Association, recommends him from the start as one who can give the most accurate picture of the meat sector in Romania .
About him, and about the work of Caroli Foods Romania told us in his interview presented bellow.
„We are the first choice of the Romanian consumer”
Fabrica de Carne magazine (FDC): Caroli Foods Group is one of the most important companies from the Romanian meat sector. What is the performance level the company reached this year?
Ovidiu Dusleag: We are leaders in the meat products industry, fact which speaks by itself. We are the first choice of the Romanian consumer and this is one of our key objectives. After years of persistent effort of Caroli Foods Group team, when we always put the emphasis on the professionalism of our employees and on the quality of the services provided to our customers, we are proud with our performance level from today comparable to any other leading companies from the EU.
FDC: Which were the effects of signing the partnership with the Spanish company Campofrio?
OD: The effects of the partnership with Campofrio were visible, mainly in the last 2-3 years. It is a very important partnership more by the fact that was signed in a period of economic instability. The effort to integrate the two companies, ultimately helped to strengthen and secure the business and the position of market leader of Caroli Foods Group company.
The merger with the largest meat processor in Europe and an important name worldwide was an important step in the evolution and consolidation of Caroli Foods Group Company. Campofrio Food Group means annual sales of over 400,000 tons; 1.9 billion sales revenue realized by 8 interdependent companies, plus two joint ventures. The merger resulted in better market coverage in South East sausages market.
„We have overcome the crisis by putting quality first”
FDC: Which are the market areas that have proven to be the best for Caroli Foods Group and which are the brands and products that are more successful?
OD: In Romania we try to cover all types of meat and meat products demanded by the consumers. We are present in all market channels, both modern and traditional. Trying to offer top quality products, we focused on meat preparations, an area where we enjoy the merit of being specialists. We managed to cover this segment at the highest operational and commercial level. The most successful brands are Campofrio, Caroli, Maestro and Sissi. The main product categories are: salami, sausages and ham.
Quality is one of the supporting pillars of our business strategy on the Romanian meat market. We will continue investing in this area to keep our market leadership position and provide the best products and service to our consumers.
FDC: How did the company perceived the crisis triggered in 2009?
OD: Similar to other players in the market, our company has suffered also because of economic imbalances. But crisis did not take us by surprise. We were prepared for the competition and confrontation. It has affected all markets in Romania by the VAT increase, wages decrease and indirectly decrease in consumption. All this was doubled by a lack of consumer confidence in the positive evolution of the crisis and of salary income. But we are among the few producers that have adapted on the go to the market context, adopting a strategic behavior focused on two main pillars: increasing productivity and efficiency of all processes.
„We have streamlined operations productivity”
FDC: Which were the managerial challenges you faced?
OD: I think the biggest challenge was to maintain stability and team motivation, the main value that makes our company one of the top. The most critical point was the integration of the two companies in an unfavorable market context and further teams and processes strengthening. The process, although it took almost 1 year, finally, was a success. We obtained results calculated in efficiency and productivity of operations.
FDC: What are the future projects of Caroli Foods Group?
OD: We proposed that by investing in quality and innovation to be the first choice of Romanian consumers and the most respected and successful meat processor in South Eastern Europe. In addition, we want to become the preferred partner for national and international retailers. We are continuously expanding and, together with local partners we export our products to several countries in Europe. In the short run, we aim to strengthen our leading position and at the same time, improve our efficiency and productivity indicators in order to increase company profitability.
„The market is vulnerable”
FDC: How would you describe the meat processing sector as President of Romanian Meat Association?
OD: It is a vulnerable market dominated by lower volumes, due to lower purchasing power and hence to consumption. In recent years, meat producing companies have invested in equipment and technology used today, but unfortunately, only 70-80% of the capacity. The effects are clear: money stucked, personnel deployed, low efficiency for all those who are not able to adapt quickly and vigorously to new market conditions and consumption.
In this context, the decision of the government to reduce VAT on bakery products from 1 September and its extension after 1 January for meat products also would only support local companies producing meat, stimulating meat consumption on short and long-term. I see this VAT reduction for meat products as that „vital breath”, the only measure that could redress the meat industry estimated at 2.5 billion euro. The same measure should encourage VAT collection for the state budget, lowering the black economy estimated at 40% of turnover.
FDC: What are the main actions RMA will focus on in the near future?
OD: From 2013 Romanian Meat Association goes through an extensive process of change and transformation. All RMA members are involved in the development of the Association and contribute in a balanced and transparent way at its change. The main key points of RMA, in the short and medium term, aim at reducing VAT on meat products, opening new markets for Romanian processors, review the legislative framework for the meat industry, participation in the development of PNDR 2014-2020 measures and increasing consumer confidence in Romanian meat products.
FDC: Which are your recommendations to the managers from the meat sector from Romania in order to overcome the difficulties of the moment?
OD: I think that information is the key. Also, in addition to information, managers should respect the European food laws and regulations, to invest in specialists and computer programs able to provide necessary information for the reduction and control of costs and continuously adapt their business strategy at the market context.
FDC: Thank you!
President of the Romanian Meat Association and CEO of Caroli Foods Group-Romania, Mr. Ovidiu Eugen Dusleag is a graduate of the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Bucharest, with specializations in Leadership, Nutrition, Management, Communication and HACCP.
Earlier, in the period of 1983-1996 he led the Poultry Raising Research Institute. Then Mr. Dusleag was the director of the company Mixalim-Frumuşani and, later, until 2005, he was the General Manager of TC Affaires-Pitesti.