Bringing vacation feelings to the plate

Interview with Bernd Semelink, Managing Director, and Branko Gajic, Authorized Signatory of the Grupa Pivac/Pivac Group GmbH

Managing Director Bernd Semelink and Authorized Signatory Branko Gajic of the Pivac Group GmbH
A successful partnership: Managing Director Bernd Semelink and Authorized Signatory Branko Gajic of the Pivac Group GmbH

2.7 million Germans travel to Croatia each year to admire the spectacular coastal landscape and to bathe in crystal clear water and Mediterranean sun. The popular holiday destination, with its unique culinary specialties, is also a paradise for gourmets. Just like the holidaymakers to Italy and Spain before them, returning Croatian holidaymakers also bring the taste of these local delicacies home. Along with the approximately seven million immigrants from the former Yugoslavia and the Eastern European countries currently living in Germany, this results in a considerable market for authentic Dalmatian products. The Pivac Group GmbH, a subsidiary of Grupa Pivac in Croatia, aims to tap into this market in Germany.

Pivac Group from Croatia is a family-owned meat processing company that began in the 1950s as a simple rural butcher. Today, it is the largest producer and supplier of fresh meat, Dalmatian ham, and processed meat products in Croatia with four production facilities and more than 3,000 employees.

The company prides itself on its products, which uniquely combine tradition with the latest production technology. The company's flagship product is the Dalmatian Prosciutto Pivac (Dalmatinski pršut, Dalmatian raw ham) with a production volume of 350,000 hams per year. Also well-known in the Croatian and Eastern European market are Pivac Dalmatian Pancetta and Pivac Original Dalmatian Loin. These are the main products with which Pivac wants to conquer the German market.

A Clear Strategy

The path for Pivac in Germany was meticulously prepared. For Bernd Semelink, managing director and 50% owner of Pivac Group GmbH, it was important to pursue the right strategy from the start: "We worked on the right concept for these products for a year," he says. "We looked at every aspect, from product selection to packaging to price."

Grupa Pivac - Dalmatian Ham Specialties
Dalmatian ham specialties have a very unique character and taste

The Croatian parent company has also prepared for European expansion and invested 30 million EUR in a new production and aging facility near Makarska.

The Right Partner

The partnership with Bernd Semelink is a stroke of luck, according to Miljenko Pivac, also managing director of the Pivac Group in Germany. This statement is underscored by Branko Gajic, who is in charge of sales for the new sales unit: "Bernd Semelink knows the German food retail sector and in particular the sausage segment like no other."

The successful businessman has already successfully introduced Italian, Spanish, and Polish sausages in Germany with his sales team and is thrilled by the Dalmatian specialties: "These products with protected origin can compete in terms of taste and quality with those from Spain or Italy," says Bernd Semelink. "They have their own unique character, resulting from differences in climate and production process." A difference that will appeal to health-conscious consumers is that the Pivac products are treated with sea salt.

Grupa Pivac new Branding
With new branding and new packaging, Pivac aims to conquer the German market

The Right Products

After intensive market research, a core range of sliced products for the German market was developed. “Our goal is to place Dalmatian meat specialties nationwide in retail,” explains Bernd Semelink. “We are already listed with many retail chains as well as the corresponding discounters.” The approach also takes into account innovative packaging forms and snacking products to appeal to as broad an audience as possible.

Standing Out Through Taste

Initial successes confirm the effectiveness of the approach with customers and end consumers. The most recent experiences at the Anuga trade fair were also extremely positive. “Germany has more sausage types than any other country,” knows Bernd Semelink. “But there is always room for more, as long as they taste good. That is the core of our philosophy.”