The leading Slovenian vinegar producer has successfully gone international by buying a factory in Poland, and is also launching innovative food products to the European market.
Company Apis-Vita, founded in 2002, is a fast growing company from the vicinity of Fram, specialized for producing vinegars and mustards of the highest quality, and marketing them under their own brand Matejev. Together with the production for retail brands, it has about a 60 % domestic market share, producing more than two million bottles of table vinegar. With more than 6 million litres of vinegar and more than three tons of mustard and ketchup per year, they are also one of the more visible producers in Poland, where they have bought the factory Wytwórnia Octu i Musztardy (WOM) in 2010 from the government during privatisation – a factory that has been marketing vinegar, mustard and ketchup under the brand Parczew since 1969.
First vinegar made from grandmother’s apples beaten down by hail
A set of curious circumstances in the family of the co-founder, Matej Hojnik, was responsible for the creation of the company Apis-Vita. Hail had beaten down the annual harvest of table apples at their grandmother’s farm, and so dad’s uncle, otherwise a professor at the Biotechnical Faculty Zagreb who has spent his entire life conserving food and vinegar, had proposed the idea to make vinegar out of the beaten down apples. The entire family helped implement the idea and transform the business from a supplementary activity at the farm into a modern company. Uncle gave the technology and the know-how, as well as helped develop a special culture of acetic acid bacteria for Apis-Vita, which gives the vinegar a special taste. Meanwhile the young director set the vision for a fast growing global company that combines the tradition of vinegar production with the latest technologies, and ensures healthy products of the highest quality with constant development and innovation.
Gave his name to the brand
Matej Hojnik even gave his own name to the brand of the company that grows its apples in an ecological area underneath Pohorje. Thus today, Apis-Vita successfully produces and markets a wide range of vinegars and mustards under the brand Matejev (Matej’s*). In the classical line of vinegars, consumers most know and love Matejev natural unfiltered apple cider vinegar, produced from compressed apples using a natural biological fermentation procedure. The innovative novelty of this autumn is the Exclusive line of vinegars, with which Apis-Vita is entering the European market of functional food products that add vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, diet fibres and other additives in order to positively influence specific bodily functions and help maintain good health.
Innovative functional food products
The following are amongst the new innovative products ready to be placed on the shelves of Slovenian and European retail chains:
- Matejev natural unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the co-enzyme Q10,
- Matejev natural unfiltered apple cider vinegar with aronia and pomegranate,
- Matejev balsamic vinegar with aronia and
- Parczew ketchup Slim & Fit with 50 % less sugar content, substituted by the natural sweetener stevia.
Since these are all products of a higher price range and premium quality, the company aims to sell them to more demanding and conscientious European consumers, and potentially also to clients from the HORECA sector of the food industry.
Slovenian and global retail giants are demanding customers
Buyers of the Slovenian Apis-Vita and the Polish WOM are numerous Slovenian and global retail chains. The biggest ones in Slovenia are Mercator, Tuš, Era, Lidl, Spar and E.Leclerc. In Poland, they supply the national chains of shops found there, but also giants such as Tesco, Carrefour, Kaufland, Eurocash, E.Leclerc and others. Those are demanding customers that often assess the products as well as oversee the production process. However they also demonstrate significant competitive advantages of Apis-Vita by continually placing trust into the Slovenian and Polish supplier. The company’s advantages aren’t only the high quality of input materials and all the most important standards and quality certificates in the food industry (HACCP, ISO 22000, FSSC 22000 and IFS Food), but also business flexibility, reliability, constant investments into the latest production equipment and the development new products.
Retreat of preservatives, high efficiency and fast growth
As such, the company for example invested 1.5 million euros into the production line “ultra clean”, blowing sterile air into the filling centre, which will allow their products to last about seven months on the shelves without any added preservatives. The production line of Apis-Vita in Slovenia is also one of the most modern ones and nearly entirely automated. Besides ensuring high quality and allowing the removal of preservatives from food products, it also enables high efficiency. Thus the Slovenian company has three full-time employees and seven full-time co-workers. Together with the Polish company, which employs 50 people in the seasonal months and some more than 30 during the winter, the income of the group amounts to more than 4 million euros for year 2014.
Leading in Slovenia and Poland
After Apis-Vita entered the Polish company as an owner, the latter doubled its market share in only two years, now adding up to approximately 11 %. Both companies have a 30-percent annual growth and are thus amongst the fastest growing companies in the Slovenian and Polish business environment. The goal of the group for the year 2015 is to reach a 35-percent sales growth. By following the strategy of continuous development and the management’s clear vision, it also looks like they are going to successfully make their key business goal come true and become the leading producer of vinegar, mustard and ketchup in Slovenia and Poland.