"Finding suitable prices for high-quality foodstuffs" is the motto of Supreme Food, a company based in Mannheim, Germany, which produces fruit spreads, among other things. Managing Director Jan Vollweiler (right) talked to us about what makes his fruit jams special and what challenges he sees in marketing his products.
Raw materials from Serbian production
"We have a long-term partner in Serbia who grows fruit on 100 hectares of land. The raw materials arrive at our production site from within a 10 km radius, which minimizes our CO2 emissions. Another advantage of Serbia as a production location is the legal requirement by the state that no genetically modified seeds may be used. This protects the soil and improves its regenerative capacity. All fruit pits that remain after production are burned, for energy production. Thus, a large part of the energy consumed is obtained from the farm's own waste and then fed into the grid. Apart from pectins, which we source from Switzerland, chocolate from Belgium and jars from Austria, 94 percent of the raw materials we source from said grower go directly to our production," Vollweiler says.
The young company was founded during the first lockdown in 2020. "We went to market with high-quality fruit spreads characterized by unusual flavors, for example a combination of strawberries paired with white chocolate. In doing so, we used quite fancy marketing with our design and invested a lot in product development," the CEO says.
Expansion of the product portfolio in the B2B sector
In the future, the company would also like to integrate other products such as olive oil from Greece into its range. "We can draw on a large network for this. Everything is sourced from one region - Kalamata in Greece - and we also work with a farming community. We're eager to bring the products to market as soon as possible."
As yet, the spreads and other products are marketed mainly online and are primarily in the B2B sector. "The products are sold by means of affixed, personalized banderoles. For Christmas 2021, we presented these products in a large shopping mall in Mannheim via a sales stand. In general, we move around a lot of regional events where people are specifically looking for delicatessen. We are currently also in talks with a delicatessen chain. But most of our business is still in the B2B sector, i.e. with banks and larger companies that buy the fruit spreads as corporate gifts."
Future projects with food retailers
Vollweiler has also held talks with food retailers, but he is still somewhat cautious in this area. Vollweiler: "Our products are sold for €4.99, with a content of 230 grams. However, retailers do not want to sell fruit spreads for more than €2.99 per jar. We could possibly consider joining such a project in the future, but this would require significantly larger quantities to be purchased. Our production facility can produce up to 800,000 230-g jars a month. Then again, it's important to me that our producer can also earn good money from it."
After all, in the past he has already experienced that a large plum jam producer cooperating with him had to push prices down so much that he himself could barely live on it. "A large food retailer, however, again presents it as if it is the great defender for consumers and wants to think of this group in turn when it comes to prices," Vollweiler says. "But I do see the willingness to pay more for high-quality products, especially in our generation."
Asia is increasingly becoming a buyer's market, he said. China, in particular, is increasingly interested in European jams, he said, as evidenced by sales of the French brand St. Dalfour, for example, as well as those of Austrian manufacturer Julius Meinl. "People there spend a lot on European products with good quality that is also comprehensible. The middle class in China makes up about 500 million people who are quite spendy. In the past, people gave each other wine or champagne as gifts. Today, people tend to give each other high-quality processed products such as fruit spreads," says Vollweiler.
Images courtesy of Supreme Food