IVAN PRTORIĆ, Director of Podravka Serbia: Creativity and Innovation are the KEY TO SUCCESS

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Since food industry has a great development potential, innovations are certainly necessary in development of new products and production quality, but according to today’s “rules of the game”, they are also crucial in the process of communication.

Podravka has been present in Serbia since 2001. How important is it to invest in innovation in order to maintain the position of the food industry leader?

— Back in 2001, Podravka Serbia’s biggest task was to let Serbian consumers know that we were back with the help of strong integrated communication, and to convince them with the same ease and confidence that they should return to purchasing ‘the veteran’ products from our range just as before, as well as buy new products. Most of our employees have been with us since the company’s beginnings, and this synergy contributes to achieveing better results on a daily basis, as well as in setting new challenges. Upon my arrival in Belgrade, I was awashed with good energy of our team and I quickly became a part of it myself. As the food industry has a great development potential, innovations are certainly necessary in developing new products and in production quality, but according to today’s “rules of the game”, they are also crucial in the process of communication. In the sea of information and with overflowing shop shelves, creativity in complete business, especially in communication, is a way to get the consumers’ attention. No resting on our laurels! We must not rely only on good results, because they need to be fed like a beast, but we also need to invest the same effort every day in building the image of our individual products, brands and the company itself. That is why, through a creative approach, we are present on all fronts – at the points of sale, in partnership with key media outlets, on digital platforms, at the top events. If you inseparably bind all of this with emotions, you will get positive results. „He who believes in miracles, creates miracles!“ Inspired by the words of the iconic writer Duško Radović, our team in Podravka Serbia embarked on a great adventure and came up with a new product – Kviki Chips. This is a brand new experience, one-ofa- kind energy and emotions that fuel the creative process, which resulted in a new product – Kviki Chips, that comes in two flavours and two shapes (salted and pepper, flat and ribbed). Our colleagues from Koprivnica supported us wholeheartedly in this endeavour, and thanks to our intertwined energies, our “miracle” was created. Kviki Chips has been selling in the Serbian market for several days now, and is soon coming to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. We have a great product and with creative and strong communication in all markets, we expect a positive reaction from consumers. We believe that we are going to hit the bullseye because that’s what Podravka does.

How important is it to follow culture, spirit and tradition of a country in which you do business and how do you adapt your product range to individual markets?

— This is a huge challenge. Actually, it is crucial. You can have a top product all you want, but if you have not managed to awaken consumers’ attention and convince them that your product is the right choice for them, everything is in vain. Our great advantage is that we really have top-notch products. Before our products find their way to consumers’ baskets and before our consumers continue to constantly go back to our products, we need to cover a long and arduous road. As I have already said, creative, innovative and integrated communication is the only way. As we are present in more than 60 countries around the world, like missionaries, we creatively combine traditional and modern, while making sure that Podravka’s products find their way to cooking pots all over the world. Apart from local peculiarities, there is also the spillover of modern food trends which is why we mix traditional with modern. Every day, we create new, innovative products that are in line with contemporary culinary trends, where our inspiration comes from the consumers who care about their nutrition, carefully choose groceries and enjoy the richness of natural ingredients. And there are more and more of them all over the world.

Your website Coolinarka has millions of followers. What new projects are you preparing and what can we expect in the upcoming period when it comes to this type of communication with consumers?

— Our Cool Club currently counts over 180,000 users worldwide, and the number of those who are following Coolinarika is growing day-on-day. Apart from having a growing number of users, recipes and photos, we are also developing a stronger connection between people who share their experiences, knowledge and skills on our website. Every day, millions of people are enjoying the meals prepared thanks to the recipes found on Coolinarika, which is one of the most visited sites in the region. This is where our club members bond as if they were cousins and neighbours, giving each other advice and discovering their culinary secrets. We are proud of the impact and strength of our website, and with creative and innovative approach to communication, we are boosting the connection and emotions shared with end consumers.

Brands from Podravka’s portfolio are extremely well-established in the Serbian market. How important is to inves in brands so they last for a long time and remain leaders in their respective categories?

— As I said at the beginning of our conversation, Podravka has not been present in the Serbian market only since 2001, but for almost 70 years. Of course, the huge task that the team from Podravka Serbia had was to again attract old consumers and gain new ones from younger generations. The return of our products that marked the lives of generations of people from the ex-Yugoslav market was the right way to prepare the field for all the novelties that the Serbian consumers were not familiar with. The consumer trust in top quality brands like Vegeta, Eva and Lino, on one hand, and investing in creative communication, which we have talked about, on the other, was the right formula for achieving this position. This is not easy! Challenges crop up daily, our competition is very active and the purchasing power has declined. But, as I said, there is no resting our laurels. If you fall asleep, it will be a deep and prolonged one.

Podravka is well-known for its socially responsible business and substantially investing in local community. Which projects would you like to single out this year?

— Assistance and support that come at the right moment are priceless. One of our slogans and basic ideas is „Always Use Your Heart“. For decades, through the Lino product range, Podravka has been focusing on our youngest consumers. Inspired by child’s smile and listening intently to what our hearts tell us, we look for opportunities where we can provide support and help the little ones. We had the opportunity to support an inclusive project launched by organization „Veliki Mali Ljudi“. On several occasions we brought smiles to the disabled children from Sremčica and other institutions that needed help. We were among the businesses that supported the “Pronadjimo Nove Nade” project, which aims to encourage and empower young people with disabilities to start being actively engaged in sports. Since recently, we have been part of a gift-giving project for mothers, and we are really happy that our Lino gift pack is present at the magical moment of childbirth. I believe that, in the future, either alone or with our partners, we will continue to make somebody’s lives easier and more beautiful, and we are always here to provide support.

What is the future development plan of Podravka in Serbia and the region?

— We are continuing to monitor and equally apply the same tendencies in the world of cooking and advertising, while carefully observing our competition, as we continue to strive to be always a step ahead.

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