Eleonora Chernetskaya, Public Relations Director at PROGRESS, the baby food market leader, talks about how the producer develops its capabilities in the Lipetsk Region, which trends determine its policy, the way it interacts with parents and quality of products.
– As the domestic baby food manufacturers stated last year, it was impossible to completely stop the supplies of raw materials from abroad as some of them were lacking on the Russian market. Then the Russian Government established a special Interdepartmental Group to drive the import substitution agenda in the baby food segment. Has anything changed since that time?
– Our country has had less and less issues with the raw materials required to produce the follow-on products thanks to the Import Substitution Program.
PROGRESS has been on the market for over 27 years building excellent relations with the domestic producers of raw materials, which in many years of cooperation have proven to be reliable partners who know and understand the requirements for the raw materials used in baby food production.
With our strict selection criteria, it is not so easy to become our supplier. At the same time, we provide a comprehensive support to the farms in Volgograd, Voronezh and Krasnodar Region upgrading their technologies and knowledge to the progressive standards.
For example, in Kuban we, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, test the soil in the locations that provide us with the vegetables for our production. If necessary, we advise the partnering farmers. With such interaction, we can control the quality of raw materials and ensure compliance with all Russian standards.
– The quality requirements for baby food are very special. How do you control quality and ensure compliance?
– We only use high-quality, natural and safe raw materials. The production requirements in Russia are strictly governed by the Technical Regulations of the Customs Union.
We have even more stringent requirements for the raw materials coming to our site. Each batch undergoes an input control for organoleptic, physical, chemical, microbiological, and safety indicators. The Company specialists not only monitor the quality of the raw materials and finished products but also strictly control every production stage. Only after the compliance is fully verified, the raw materials go to production.
What is important is that almost all the processes at the factory are automated and do not require direct human involvement as they are controlled by our high-tech equipment, and the products are bottled in the most sterile conditions.
We pay great attention to the customer feedback, which is an important driver of product quality and an indicator of a higher consumer culture. Our Company operates a hotline, which is often used by young parents – they call to ask questions and understand the details of baby diet. They are advised by our in-house pediatricians who also give recommendations on our products.
– Which countries sell FrutoNyanya?
– The products are on sale in Russia and the CIS countries – Kazakhstan, Belarus and Uzbekistan. Also, we entered the Baltic market. China has begun to show a keen interest in FrutoNyanya as they trust the quality and naturalness of the Russian baby food.
– The baby food market is very challenging – the opinions of parents and the experience of pediatricians play a big role, and the competitors never stand still. To be the winner you need to please your consumers and surprise them with a new assortment, unusual offers and certainly quality. How do you maintain consumer interest in your products?
– We are the leaders in the baby food market, and this is what is pushing the Company forward. We are constantly launching new products, enhance our production capabilities, track the latest research data and medical opinions. As a result, every year we launch 3 to 5 new products, sometimes even product lines, for example, Organic. Another example is Fruit Pieces, a natural and healthy treat replacing the sweets, which are not very healthy for kids. Fruit Pieces by FrutoNyanya is a natural, safe and healthy treat for children, just the way it should be.
As a baby food producer, PROGRESS takes into account the cultural and even religious specificity. Among the major producers, we were the pioneers in launching a line of halal products (lamb, beef and chicken & beef puree in jars), which is extremely important for a country where millions of Muslims live. We installed the equipment, set up a production process and trained the personnel how to operate the halal baby food line.
– I know that the FrutoNyanya brand won a bronze Effie Awards Russia statuette in the Goods & Services for Children category For Strengthening Leadership in Declining Baby Juice Market (commercial Apple from Apple Tree). How do you manage to stay in top positions for so many years? What is your secret?
– We consistently maintain loyalty of our existing customers and run many activities to recruit new clients. We continue perfecting our range and offer to moms and babies new fresh flavours of drinks, for example, our seasonal novelties – Berry Glade or Snowy Fairytale.
Having many years of experience in the baby food segment, we as experts cooperate with the National Research Institute for Nutrition & Biotechnology when it comes to product development, so we thoroughly understand the needs of children at each stage of their development.
– FrutoNyanya and DDB Russia recently launched an interesting mobile application for baby sleep. Many parents are well aware of the issue of lulling their babies. Please tell us more about the “sleepy” program.
– The Healthy Sleep Month app controls the duration and quality of baby sleep as well as gives some useful tips to moms making sure the babies wake up and fall asleep in a good mood, with no tears.
The Baby Sleep Diary is based on the somnology research. The app helps moms and dads restore the correct and natural rhythms of baby sleep using the simple and practice-proven methods.
The service analyzes what the parents do and suggests some solutions depending on the age norms. There are games with some rituals that help babies fall asleep, recommendations on when it is better to bathe babies and explanations on why it is better to avoid active games in the evening.
– How, in your opinion, will the baby food market develop? What will be the role of PROGRESS?
– I would highlight the following development trends: focus on product/packaging innovation, naturalness and safety for babies, new convenient packaging solutions and products for various consumption occasions.
Our Company is focused on further development and absolute leadership in the baby food category in Russia.
– How are your relations with the regional authorities? Which charity projects does PROGRESS have?
– A dialogue between the Government and business is crucial in today's dynamically changing economic environment. As a domestic baby food manufacturer engaged in the Import Substitution Program, we actively participate in the process supporting the Russian agricultural producers and the sector overall.
The best example is construction of a dairy factory that would have been impossible without the Government aid subsidizing the interest rate on a long-term loan. The Lipetsk Region has created an excellent investment climate that consists of many smaller but still important factors that support the Company’s development – infrastructure, logistics, taxes and highly skilled personnel.
As for charity, we have an internal program to support the orphanages – Giving a Piece of Happiness – where any of our employees can make a contribution.