1. How was the year 2016 for Agricola in terms of business development, sales and brand expectations?
From a marketing viewpoint, this has been a challenging year. For the first time after many years we have seen what we call market up-trade, more relaxed consumers, and a moderate growth in consumption – things that are interesting premises for the FMCG market. From a business-related perspective, Agricola has recorded quantitative growth across all its business lines, which naturally reflects into higher sales. From a brand perspective, we continue to enjoy high consumer recognition, with relevant awareness indicators shown by consumer research, resulting directly from product quality and the investments we made in our brand through the integrated advertising campaigns we ran over the past four years.
2. You represent a company with Romanian roots and strong engagement towards Romania. What does Agricola mean in terms of business, jobs created, facilities and perspectives?
We can look at Agricola International Bacau as a constant example of business excellence. It is not an exaggeration to speak of ourselves as one of the leaders of Romania’s meat industry, a statement that is supported by such crucial arguments as the professionalism of our staff, the business results, which are obviously backed by exceptional product quality, and the brand equity, considering we operate in an increasingly crowded and competitive market.
Agricola is a company whose most valuable asset is its people. We work here as a large family, with clear tasks and following performance indicators, proud of our brand and products. 3,000 jobs, each business line offering facilities for the wellbeing of people, to make them feel appreciated by providing them with a proper workplace and fair pay for work – these are just some of the relevant aspects for our employees.
3. What is the trademark of this brand? What makes it stand out from other brands in this segment?
Agricola’s competitors have initiated a trend toward modernity and youth – they are putting out brands that are less steeped in tradition and closer to family and the daily life. The uniqueness of Agricola brand consists in its link to tradition, to which we have managed to give a contemporary flavor, so that in addition to projecting the image of a specialist company, thanks to our decades-old market presence and constant preoccupation with quality and innovation, we have built our communication around living traditions like family reunions around the table.
4. The Romanian economy has been the subject of a major tax cut in 2016, after a significant VAT cut for food in 2015. How has this tax cut influenced your sector? Did this tax cut come at the right moment?
It is obvious that the VAT cut came at the right time. On the one hand, it drove up consumption, and on the other it contributed to introducing order to the market and curbing tax evasion in our field. What is more interesting is that after the VAT cut (which in 2015 was accompanied by other macroeconomic changes, such as increasing pensions, increasing wages of the civil servants in education and health care, along with a growing average income) we can see a slightly growing trend in the consumption of premium products, until not long ago just aspirational for medium income people. Today, thanks to the VAT cut, such consumers find these more affordable and obviously less prohibitive to test. The quality of our products matters to consumers and if the price to quality ratio is also right, consumers can be more easily won over to premium products. This way consumption goes up, life quality gets better, and consumers can happily mix savory meals and lifestyle, with subsequent benefits to their health. All these have changed the consumers’ mindset and influenced their purchase behavior.