the mark n German meat processor Reinert provided some of the first salamis in the UK and is now driving their growth in the multiples. Progressive attitudes are its key to success German meat processor Reinert was responsible for some of the first salamis on British delicatessen shelves and now, 25 years later, it is driving the growth of these pre-packed meats in the multiples. The company has gradually pushed its export business into 30 countries, but its dealings with the UK and Ireland is the biggest at £5m, and where it has a 50% share of the salami market. The firm's relationship with the German export group CMA helps it to exhibit in German pavilions at exhibitions around the world and Reinert will be at Food & Drink Expo at the Birmingham NEC in March. Christof Laudage is responsible for the region and says that, although exhibitions don't always yield major new customers, they're vital for keeping up with new trends and meeting buyers. Alongside the benefits of these events, he candidly puts Reinert's success down to, among many things, luck. "Ten years ago there were hardly any salami products in the big multiples - it was all in the delis. We were fortunate to have started early with our export business which gave us a head start." But he knows that luck alone is not enough ­ it's also essential to have a class product. "We make the highest quality product available in Germany and have the most sophisticated factories." This is probably no exaggeration because the 90-year-old family-owned company has one of the most modern meat manufacturing plants in Europe, for which it has won many environmental awards. Laudage believes Reinert was also fortunate in its choice of export partners ­ Medallion Meats being the most long-standing (which supplies the convenience sector and cash and carry firms), while Winterbotham Darby supplies the multiples. "Winterbotham Darby does our distribution and helped us by providing quality advisors to allow us to meet technical requirements, and also did our category management." Indeed, on its advice, the firm initially invested millions to get its factories properly audited to UK standards. "You need professional, reliable partners to export successfully into the UK," says Laudage. "Someone who can do the wholesaling and order picking." Because import partners offer the multiples a wide range of products from many different companies, they have more business clout. Laudage says: "The requirements of the multiples are huge ­ without them, we would find meeting these very difficult." Almost two-thirds of Reinert's UK business is with the big supermarkets and Laudage believes that the similarities between the two nations make for a comfortable trading relationship. "We both set regulations that we stick to." He thinks that the willingness of the UK consumer to try new products makes life easier for exporters. "In other European countries the retailers are more protective and will buy only their domestic products." Although Reinert started the pre-packed business in the UK only three years ago it has already doubled and now half of Reinert's products are pre-packed and Laudage thinks this trend will continue to grow. Many are dual branded to meet the demand for authenticity. "I don't like to feel too secure, but I don't think we'll come up against too many new competitors. We just need to watch the current ones because everyone's getting better. We're one of several hundred meat processors in Germany but only one of three or four active in this market. Our owners are open to new ideas and they invest in new technology." He has simple advice for other firms looking to tap the market: "Do your market research and see what's already on offer ­ and get a good partner." Steven Higginson, sales director at Winterbotham Darby, believes the kind of partnership it has with companies like Reinert are successful because these exporters are receptive to changes demanded in their production lines by the big multiples. "Reinhert is and has always been very professional and progressive. We tell them of opportunities and have objective reviews on a regular basis." He adds: "There are still many opportunities in the UK to develop business.You need to have an open mind and a will to survive ­ don't just set up an export department and try to sell the same thing you sell in your home market." l Food & Drink Expo, organised by William Reed, publisher of The Grocer, is at the Birmingham NEC from March 17-20. n {{FEATURES }}