15 Jan Hungarian processor nourishes the perfect food machine
Giacomo Pedranzini, CEO, Kometa 99, a leading meat processing company that is focused on putting high-quality, healthy and affordable products on the tables of families
Kometa 99 is one the largest pork processing companies in Hungary. It has been a leading player in the market since 1994, selling a wide variety of world-class products and employing over 700 people. To start our interview, could you give our readers a brief introduction to the group?
Kometa 99 has been operating in Hungary for 26 years. We are a pork meat processor working all along the value chain, starting with the slaughtering process and ending our activity with fresh meat products, prepared in a protected atmosphere, or with cold cuts sliced and pre-packed, ready for the shelves of the supermarkets—and all of this under one roof
In the last six years, we have more than doubled our turnover. In 2012 our turnover was €60 million and this year it will be a bit more than €150. After Hungary and Italy, we have strong market positions in Slovenia, Croatia and Germany. All together, we export to 40 different countries around the world.
Quality and innovation is of prime importance in the food industry. How does Kometa 99 ensure the highest quality processes and standards all along its production and distribution chain? In addition, how important is innovation to the company?
The three pillars on which we base our quality are taste and pleasure in eating, healthiness of the products and affordability. We have capitalized on our Italian experience and know-how in meat processing, combining it with Hungarian tradition and expertise but, especially, with the very high quality of Hungarian raw materials.
For us, innovation means, first of all, making our products healthier and more enjoyable for consumers. Secondly, innovation also extends to the technologies that we are using and to the sustainability angle.
Transformations are taking place in the Hungarian agribusiness sector, from modernization and digitalization to the growing size of the processing industry. How would you evaluate the role and importance of Hungary within the European Union’s (EU’s) food and agriculture sector? And what are some of the biggest opportunities and key challenges that exist for investors in the industry?
For agriculture and food production, Hungary is a paradise. It offers a wide territory, fertile soils, abundant water, plus stable and good weather conditions. And, at the same time, it has an excellent geographical position in the heart of Europe that we can use to trade with all of Europe from the west to the east. The population’s size and density inside the country is not very high, which is another advantage. Besides, the density of animal breeding is still quite low, especially compared to other European countries like the Netherlands, Denmark or Germany. In the coming years, we expect production of pig breeding will move from these western countries toward Central Europe step by step.
What is your strategy for building Kometa 99’s brand and the company’s footprint?
Developing our brand means an emotional connection to the consumers: to be authentic, communicate our values and let people around us understand what we stand for and what we are doing in order to honor the values we claim to represent.
We are preparing a big investment plan to double the capacity of our production units and to extend control to the whole supply chain. It will be an investment plan that will involve nearly €100 million over the next five years. We will keep the same concept, uniting all processes under one roof. We also want to promote an authentic agriculture and food production that guarantees a fair distribution of profit all along the production chain, while providing the final consumer with good, healthy and affordable food.
We consider it very important that we give food and agriculture back the importance that they should have in our lives. We, the players in food production, are the first guardians of creation itself, in my view! We have a noble mission: we must nourish the perfect machine, as Leonardo da Vinci said when referring to the human body. As Kometa, we try to motivate our people by making them aware of the responsibility we have and making them proud of the function we have: putting food on the tables of families.”
To conclude this interview, what would be your final message to the readers of Newsweek?
As consumers, we have to be extremely careful when we make our purchasing decisions: we need to be informed, aware of what we buy and what we eat, and make our decisions accordingly to the expectation we have. We are all responsible for having better food and a better environment and, as we say in Kometa, for changing the world for the better with goodness and integrity.