Is line flexibility one of your priorities?
G.N..: Flexibility is obviously very important. Our lines usually run around three shifts for one product format. During changeovers, errors may occur and affect the overall line efficiency. Today, the output per day is at about 3 million bottles. Our aim is to increase that output. As our available space is limited, we need solutions that will allow us produce more bottles per one square meter. Therefore, block concepts are the best option.
For a local brand such as Naleczow, how big is the competition from European or international brands?
K.B.: The Polish and European bottled water markets are very large and highly saturated, with a noticeable upward trend. The competitive landscape features both local players and global corporations.
G.N.: Compared with giants such as Nestle or Coca Cola, Naleczow Zdroj is a rather small local player. For a company such as ours to compete successfully with international corporations is by no means easy, but not impossible. For many years now, CISOWIANKA has been the leading brand of Poland’s mineral water market. It goes to prove that a top quality product combined with attention to every little detail on the production and distribution side as well as a conscious and unique brand image and marketing policy may give a company a major competitive edge even against global corporations.
What is the key to your success? Is it water quality, marketing, cost advantages, or production efficiency?
G.N.: All these factors are our success drivers. We always try to take a holistic view of the CISOWIANKA brand and to take utmost care of our product all the way from water extraction, through bottling, up to distribution and marketing. In a nutshell, the key to our success lies in superior quality in every aspect and in excellent customer care, i.e. paying attention to the customer’s needs.
How big is the mineral water market in Poland (in l) and what role does mineral water play in Poland vis-a?- vis other beverages?
G.N.: In 2016, consumption of mineral water reached 114-118 litres per capita and is on the rise. No results for 2017 have been published yet, but we expect the upward trend to continue. In the non-alcoholic beverages market, consumption of mineral water is growing at the expense of other beverages. This is driven by the t and healthy lifestyle trend, with consumers looking for natural products with no artificial additives.
How will you strengthen your position in Poland?
K.B.: We have been the leader of Poland’s mineral water market for years, and our market position is growing stronger by the year. Our focus is on water only, we are experts in this business, we offer a premium- quality and fully natural product, and we respect our customers – which they recognise and appreciate. We will continue to deliver our successful sales, marketing and brand image strategies in the future.
Have you adopted any strategies or taken any actions to expand your business in Europe?
G.N.: Our export brand Perlage has been sold mainly to European but also to Asian and American restaurants for a couple of years now. From day one of our export sales, the strategy has remained unchanged and has been consistently delivered: namely, our goal is to steadily expand in foreign restaurant markets and to offer premium quality products to our customers abroad. We do not want to focus on restaurants with star ratings only, our targets are those restaurants where the menu is based on natural and top quality products and where chefs and managers are aware of how important it is to serve prime quality water with the dish.
Obviously, the water market is highly competitive, both in Poland and abroad.
What role does the circular economy and sustainability play in Poland and especially for your company? Where do you see the real challenges to becoming “greener” as a company?
G.N.: The environmental footprint of our company is of key importance to us. In the context of circular economy, we should emphasise that an efficient and effective recycling of empty post- consumer bottles is the key. We believe it to be the major problem and challenge right now. This is the area where the government and recycling operators should play the key role.
K.B.: Due to the nature of our products, their sensitivity, and the characteristics of PET bottles, it is not possible to reuse PET bottles for bottling of natural mineral waters. However, post-consumer PET water bottles are increasingly sought after as recycling material.
G.N.: To operate in an environmentally- friendly way, we are honing the design of our packaging and streamlining our production processes, including bottle blowing, so as to minimise the amount of materials used and thus reduce environmental emissions as well as water and energy consumption.
The policy of Naleczow Zdroj is delivered with due regard to the natural environment and the company’s immediate surroundings. We use environmentally-friendly energy sources and we minimise the consumption of both water and energy. Our in-house wastewater treatment plant is also completely “green”. The main challenge lies with the cost of “green” solutions, which is still quite high in Poland.