What was the year 2021 for MECOM Group like?
The year 2021 was challenging and successful for us. It is challenging due to Covid because especially in food companies, production has to be ensured on a daily basis. I am very happy that we were able to successfully resolve all the Corona virus issues without noticing any interruption in sales or delivery.
It was successful mainly because we were able to move forward with the acquisition of the company. Our hands have been changed in an international tender involving several major players in the meat processing industry. Today, Mecum is part of the Smithfield Food Group, which is the world’s largest processor and seller of meat products.
What did this Mecom bring?
MECOM has become part of a large global family and has access to new opportunities. However, we are still a very independent company where management decisions regarding branding, production or pricing remain the same as before in the local Slovak administration. This is very important in our ultra-fast segment as it allows us to make flexible decisions on a local basis.
The whole world has been living in the covid pandemic for nearly two years now, what is the impact of the pandemic on your business?
At Mikumi, we have very strict hygiene measures in place. The veil was worn in our country long before the infection with the Covid virus. Especially in those areas where workers come into contact with finished products, our standard is so strict that it can no longer be tightened. They have their own locker rooms, their own toiletries, and their own toiletries. We have established a production division, increased sanitation and hygiene procedures in all areas. In an effort to protect our employees from Covid, we have given them vitamin packets to support immunity. Mecom is already checked several times a year. These are external and customer quality audits and we have results of 97 out of 100, which is an excellent number.
Did you also change the way you sell?
Covid also means less sales for our customers, which is why we have ramped up offline sales by phone and recently launched a new website where our customers can place an order directly through our app.
We have our own fleet of more than 80 vehicles and transport our products to more than 3000 operations. Two years ago, we invested in a new fleet and today we drive the latest cars to reduce consumption and therefore our emissions and carbon footprint. Next year, we plan to change the fleet again and will be working on more environmentally friendly driving. We would also like to involve electric cars, but unfortunately the poor infrastructure of charging stations does not allow us to do so yet.
Ladislav Čechovi, CEO
You can update production and buy new machines. How much do you invest per year?
Every year, we invest millions of euros in modernization. We will double the investment next year. Part of it goes to increasing production capacity, part to changing and part to energy management so that we have more efficient energy consumption and thus reduce carbon emissions.
You have implemented improvements in the company and rewarded people. Did you succeed?
I admit I was a bit skeptical at first. However, it really brings us results. This has a positive effect on employee motivation and their belonging to the company. The employees are more involved in the management of the company and there is also a financial incentive for the people. At the end of the day, you help the company increase efficiency. I would definitely highly recommend it to other companies, especially the big ones. It worked very well for us.
Did you pass the prestigious Company of the Year poll? What does this mean for mecom?
We were nominated and won third place. This clearly shows that the path we started is the right one. Our main motto is to provide good, high quality and delicious products to our customers. If we don’t succeed, we will have no sales, no growth, no good economic results, and no prizes. We are very happy with that. It is a very prestigious and motivating award.
You’re currently coming out with a new packaging design, so what will change?
As a market leader, Mecom sets the tone in the meat processing industry. The last time we did this redesign was 4 years ago and felt the need to make a change. Already this month, we launch product sales with a new design. The new packaging clearly shows all the important information to the customer, such as the proportion of meat, Slovak product, composition and more.
What are MECOM’s plans for 2022?
We are launching new projects and 2022 will be marked by growth. We have ambition to grow in both the Slovakian and export markets. Especially in Hungarian and Czech, which is very important to us. We’ll also be introducing new segments that we haven’t worked in yet. And like every year, we create new products that take into account the latest standards and requirements of our customers and consumers.
Do products differ in different markets?
Yes really. For example, products for the Hungarian market are more pungent and contain more pepper. I can also disclose that for most products for the Hungarian market we use spices explicitly from Hungarian suppliers.
What is most needed by the meat processing industry in Slovakia?
In general, the food processing industry in Slovakia has been greatly underestimated for a long time. There is an investment debt estimated at 800 million euros. There is also a lack of the concept of long-term food industry support, which may include the entire farm-breeder-slaughter-processor chain that will not change every time the government is replaced. We simply need to support a system that will last for at least 10-15 years. State aid to the manufacturing industry of our country is also lagging behind, for example, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Unfortunately, the manufacturing industry has been overlooked for a long time.
I’ve made reference to so-called gold plating in the past. Has it been resolved yet?
it’s not. In Slovakia, we have some laws or technical guidelines which are more stringent than the legislation in neighboring countries. This means that we, as a Slovak producer, must meet these more stringent standards, and therefore we are at a disadvantage compared to producers from other countries. We have also developed a specific list of items that must be modified according to the level of the neighboring countries. This is something that will not cost state coffers and will in part help Slovak meat processors be more competitive. I will give just one example to all.
Slovak legislation (Decree 83/2016 on Meat Products) provides for specific storage conditions for certain groups of meat products throughout their entire processing process until they are put on the market. In practice, this means that selected batches of meat products, for example sausages from a Slovak product, must be stored at a maximum temperature. + 4 ° C. However, foreign producers do not have this obligation and it is enough for them to cool to +6 ° C, for example. A difference of two degrees in our factories means higher costs in the order of 100,000 euros per year! And this is how I can go on.
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