One of the north east of Brazil's leading producers of cookies proves that regional focus is the secret to success in the country's vast food industry. Reuben Ford samples the strategy behind a growing brand.
Proud of being a 100 percent north-eastern company, Vitamassa (a brand of CIPAN – Trade and Food Industry of the North East) is located in one of Brazil’s fastest growing regions that has a Gross Domestic Product exceeding the national average.
The food producer has a menu of over 90 products, including cookies, coffee and condiments, meticulously selecting ingredients to ensure the best quality.
The purchase of modern machinery and investment in technology and quality control has increased production capacity and made Vitamassa one of the most important food producers in the north east.
“We operate in states where we have factories, and neighboring states. The distance guarantees the quality of our products, service and logistics and our customers expect and get the best,” says Industrial Director of Vitamassa, Fernando Meira.
Today, Vitamassa produces a wide range of cookies such as chocolate, caramel and condensed milk flavored and covered varieties, as well as wafers and crackers. The mix does not end there; the brand is also recognized for long and short pasta (spaghetti and twists or shells, for example) and produces savory snacks, condiments and coffee (ground and roasted).
“Our leading products in terms of revenue are cookies, but in terms of production volume, pasta is our biggest market,” Meira explains.
All foods are produced at the company’s two factories. The headquarters, located in Caruaru, Pernambuco state, covers 25,000 square meters and the second 15,000-square-meter factory is in Queimadas, in neighboring Paraíba.
“Distribution is an important differential for us. We have more than 6,000 commercial outlets in Pernambuco, Paraíba, Alagoas, Rio Grande do Norte and Bahia,” Meira adds. The states, located side-by-side in Brazil’s north eastern most region provide easy access for delivery trucks and greater control for the company. Meira continues: “Delivery in the same area of the country, minimizes costs and ensures efficiency and punctuality.”
The success of Vitamassa’s products has led to competitors imitating particular lines, such as filled butter-based cookies, a fact which does not deter Meira’s enthusiasm for the brand. “We are always looking for new innovations and invest in the latest technology – often bringing new concepts and machinery to the region.”
A year ago Vitamassa launched its line of wafers Tobogã Animix, made with the most developed technology available in the market, technology that Meira points out is used by multinational food companies, Nestlé and Bauducco.
Production and packaging at Vitamassa’s plants is fully automated in accordance with quality and safety standards. The company is audited annually to maintain standards, including even to eliminate bio-terrorism risks. “We are registered with the ABIMA (Brazilian Association of Industrial Bread and Cake Manufacturers) and production follows HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) international standards,” Meira affirms. Despite certifications, Vitamassa does not currently export.
Investing in Ingredients
Directing investment toward the important parts of the business has consolidated Vitamassa in the market. The company recently purchased 30 new delivery vehicles for the now 70-strong fleet. “More than 50 percent of our trucks are new. All of our deliveries are carried out by our own vehicles – a strong competitive advantage,” Meira points out.
Vitamassa has also increased storage and factory space to adjust to growing demand and new product lines.
“In 2012 we implemented new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) management software, which centralizes information on one database and has become our main IT resource,” Meira says.
The $5-million changes are part of new five-year planning, which aims at rolling out existing product lines and increasing revenue from each division. Marketing plans based on these objectives are already underway for new coffee, cookie (two flavored and filled) and pasta varieties as well as more savory snacks and cake mixes.
“Our industry strategy involves all management levels in commercial, industrial and marketing divisions. Following the agreement of a plan, lines are rolled out yearly according to departmental goals,” Meira explains.
Vitamassa is among the three biggest cookie makers in the north east and is one of the leading brands of pasta. Reporting revenue of in 2012, Meira projects figures in the region of for 2013, above the company’s average 20 percent annual growth.
“Future growth will come from not only expanding existing lines, but also new product categories,” Meira affirms. He also explains that current sales channels are under analysis. “Our clients, who are all retailers, are all within a 500-mile radius of our factories. Offers from nationwide chains are on the table and we are re-evaluating our position.”
Commitment to Customers and Quality
V itamassa’s careful consideration of expanding its markets is understandable considering the complete control and success it has with existing contracts. “Our network is completely integrated, from manufacture to delivery and our service is unique because of this,” Meira reasons.
The company also buys the best raw materials, Meira adds; “we buy from abroad if necessary.” Wheat is bought and milled directly by a partner company – wheat flour accounts for 70 percent of the ingredients of Vitamassa’s products. “We select our own raw materials and have formed partnerships with some important market leaders,” he continues.
Supplier and client relationships are clearly the overriding ingredient in Vitamassa’s recipe for success. The company plays an important social role employing 900 people, and planning to increase staff as it expands.
“Our hope is that the government will improve tax conditions and improve legal parameters for the benefit of our business, people and partners,” Meira adds.
Thanks to extensive research, investment and know-how, Vitamassa is a consolidated brand with constant growth. With systems and certification in place for expanding its markets, Vitamassa is a brand to watch.