Anna and Axel are here to share some recent updates from the lives of Lantmännen Trainees.
Time is running really fast with only 6 weeks left until we finalize our current assignments and head off to a vacation. With my ( Anna) most recent task within marketing at Cerealia Crisp Department, I wish there was more time left to work with Finn Crisp – the brand I got to know way before moving to the Nordics. Did you know that Finn Crisps along with Ikea are some of the most recognizable Nordic brands in Russia?
It is also interesting that although Cerealia does not have an office in Russia, our strong distribution network makes sure you can find Finn Crisps in most stores in the country. How about Unibake then? Unlike Cerealia crisps, our Unibake buns and pastries in Russia are sold through Food Service. What this means for consumer then? Well, you can’t buy Lantmännen Unibake burger buns in the stores in Moscow , however, every time you order a burger at some of the biggest international fast food chains, grab a hotdog walking down the Tverskaya street or stop by the café for the maple pecan pastry, you are most probably getting a taste of Unibake products.
At this point are probably thinking, that Im (Anna) getting nostalgic talking about Russia, well, this is not entirely true. The real reason for bringing this up is that the Trainee Gang have recently came back from a study trip in Russia. In particular, we have visited Unibake Russia office in Moscow and took a day trip to Yegorievsk to see our bakery.
By the time of our visit to Russia, we have had a combined experience from majority of Lantmännen facilities from Florida(US) to Hatting (DK). Nevertheless, with Russia being a very different market, there were many exiting facts and fascinating stories.
The first Unibake bakery opened back in 1992, soon after the “Soviet Union” became history. At this time of change, Russia have opened up to new food trends from the West and people were queuing for 3 hours to get inside the first McDonalds in Moscow. (my parents told me I was one of them, but since I don’t have a memory of this, let’s pretend it never happened;) )
The wind of changes from the West have only been blowing for a few years when the financial crisis hit the nation. This was pretty bad for everyone, except a few, among them good old Ronald McDonald. Fast food industry in Russia turned out to be better equipped for economic turbulence than many other businesses. Having learned a lesson, more fast food chains started to enter the country. To cater to a growing demand for high quality buns, in 2006 Unibake have started a big scale production of hot dog and hamburger buns in Yegorievsk. Since 2014 things have not been so easy for Russians again, however, looking at the demand for the food consumed “on the go”, one can make an assumption that hamburgers and hot dogs have really become the nation´s comfort food. I guess the moral is that even the toughest times in the economy can be pretty good for particular product segments 😉 Note to self: avoid double standards when reading news from home.
After meeting our Unibake Russia colleagues at Moscow office on Thursday we were really looking forward to the next day! So on the Friday we got to do something very exciting, go to our factory in Yegoryevsk! This proved to be a very interesting visit, not only as we got to see the Russian countryside but as the factory itself has a pretty long and interesting history.
Besides touring the plant we also got to sit down and talk with the plant manager and this gave at least me (Axel) many really nice takeaways. One of the key takeaways for me was however that even though Russia is a very different country with another set of values and culture this does not make it impossible to create a feeling which resonates with the feeling one gets at the head office in Sweden. This was interesting as this is usually one of the hardest things for a multinational company – to create a culture which is similar regardless of where you are in world.
Until the next time!
Anna and Axel