MIODRAG JELIĆ, General Manager for Serbia, Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria at Lesaffre: Local Market Grows With Us

With its products, the Lesaffre Company has been present in the Serbian market for over two decade. 2014 was one of the most important years for the company’s two-decades-long presence in the domestic market, following Serbia becoming one of the very few countries that Lesaffre chose for the location of its Baking Center™.

“This is a pioneering project of our company, primarily aimed at educating professionals, associates and partners, but also at continuously improving the existing and creating new products and recipes,” says Miodrag Jelić, General Manager for Serbia, Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria at Lesaffre. “When we entered the Serbian market, we were aware of the distinctive features of this region, the fact that the regional markets were similar and that they had a long and serious baking traditions. Nevertheless, each country has something special, something that makes it different,” Mr. Jelić adds.

During the said period, the Serbian market started the consolidation of its industrial segment, with the parallel existence of a number of small and medium-sized bakeries which are very important because they enjoy a strong consumer confidence. „In a market as distinctive as this one, we wanted to bring closer the global bakery trends and offer innovative products like liquid yeast, as well as contribute to the development of our branch“, Mr. Jelić says.

Early last year, you acquired Alltech’s yeast factory in Serbia. How important is this acquisition for Lesaffre’s development?

— Lesaffre has important strategic goals in the segment of nutrition and health, thanks to its 165 yearlong expertise in producing and analyzing yeast and fermented products. The successful acquisition of Alltech’s yeast factory helped us to further consolidate our position in the developing global yeast extract market. Lesaffre has eight factoriesđ around the world, and the new factory in our business system and its successful takeover will help us to be even more committed to meeting the specific needs of our customers and listening intently to the needs of the local market.

With the help of the Bakers Union, you have organized the competition called Pekarijada – National competition for best professional bakers at which you gave out awards to young bakers. Are there enough young bakers interested in innovation in the baking market?

— During the eight months of selection process for Pekarijada at the Lesaffre Baking Center™ lasted, about 200 professional and young bakers demonstrated their skills in the preparation of various baking products. We are particularly proud of our young bakers category, with the first and second winner in this category being high school students. We are pleased to see that this competition is viewed as prestigious and coveted among young bakers and future baking professionals. A possibility of getting a job is a reward that these young people value very highly. On the other hand, it was extremely beneficial for them to meet their older and more experienced colleagues at the Pekarijada, and get practical advice from them. More people applied for the second Pekarijada than for the first one.

What are your further plans in this market?

— The Serbian market has a huge potential, and we have accomplished quite successful results here. With the second Pekarijada, we have succeeded in promoting our profession even better than before and showed our industry in a new, more creative way, which is more familiar to the general public. Promoting our profession is something that only the leaders can do, therefore it is very important to us. The national competition and partnership with the Serbian Bakers Union is the best validation of how much we have been focusing on this topic. We also support our industry through the Baking Center™, which we organize, but also through a number of almost daily training sessions and workshops that we organize in our Baking Center™. As for the products themselves, the yeast that we produce under the brand names Fermin, Alfa and Vrenje are among the best-selling yeasts in the domestic market, so it is quite natural that we devise our plans in line with the results achieved by the most successful brands in our portfolio.

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