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Gummy bears for the USA – and halal fruit gummies for Muslim customers: confectionery company HARIBO as a customer. About the ways in which Hapag-Lloyd transports much of HARIBO's confectionery to every continent and the challenges in the confectionery industry in general.
Stefan Sorce is Head of Global Logistics HARIBO Group and Managing Director of HARIBO Logistik GmbH and our conversation partner for this customer interview.
Mr Sorce, the world-famous gummy bears, the GOLD BEARS, are the signature product of the HARIBO Group – and they are conquering the world.
We produce around 100 million gummy bears every day. Placed side by side, our annual production would stretch around the globe four times. For many decades, HARIBO was focused on its core region of Europe – and we still generate a very large amount of our revenue in Germany today. However, our products are now also on the rise globally.
What markets do you have in your sights here?
In a nutshell: everything between North America and Asia is strategically very important for us. We have 20 foreign companies within Europe and six outside Europe: in Brazil, Singapore, Dubai, Australia, North America and China. The USA is, and will remain, the biggest confectionery market. However, the appetite for sweets is also growing in China at a breathtaking pace.
HARIBO is a family company with a strong awareness of tradition. What is the secret of its success?
Hans Riegel founded the company in 1920 in Bonn – resulting in the name HARIBO (HAns RIegel BOnn). His sons Hans and Paul led the company to international success after the war. “Quality above all else” was, and continues to be, the motto. And as a result, the most important brand values are quality, innovation and continuity. A large part of our success, of course, is also due to our keen sense for marketing and advertising.
You have continuously expanded your product range in recent years. What are HARIBO’s most successful innovations?
The COLOR-RADO fruit gummy range and the GOLD BEARS are the top sellers in our product range. However, the expansion of the GOLD BEARS product range with SOUR GOLD BEARS has also been very successful – they are among the top three HARIBO products in the USA and are now also well established in the German market. The launch of our HARIBO Milk Bears product in Germany in 2016 hit exactly the right note. Made of sweet fruit gummy and soft creamy milk-flavoured foam, the milk bears have gone down a treat with young and old alike. And we are adapting to trends as regards vegetarian diets: the V label of VEBU (the German Vegetarian Society) is clearly visible on the front of the Fruitmania packaging so that consumers who wish to avoid animal-based gelatine can easily do so. We have also developed halal fruit gummies for our Muslim customers. They contain beef gelatin rather than pork gelatine. The products are a big success in Turkish supermarkets at home and abroad, as well as in Malaysia and in Arab countries, for example.
What regional specifics are there?
Sour products generally sell very well in France. Our ORANGINA fruit gummies cater exactly to French tastes. In the UK, our MAOAM chewy sweets continue to be extremely successful. And Happy Cola is a big hit for us in the USA. As varied as tastes are worldwide: HARIBO has something to offer everyone.
Let’s move on to production. Where are your fruit gummies and liquorice made and how does Hapag-Lloyd play a role here?
We make our products at 16 locations in ten countries. These include two large factories in France, one in Turkey and five in Germany. We use Hapag-Lloyd to bring our raw products to our production facilities, although chiefly to export our products, of course. Our factories in Germany and Europe primarily serve the European market, but also the USA. We use the ports in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg for this. Our US distribution centre is located in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey – and is only around 300 meters away from the quay wall of the port. From our factory in Turkey, we serve markets in Asia and
some parts of North America.
How many TEU does Hapag-Lloyd transport for HARIBO?
It is an impressive five-figure number. This makes Hapag- Lloyd a key shipping partner for us. And you can see: our GOLD BEARS like Hapag-Lloyd. We don’t just need standard containers, but often reefers too, since summertime temperatures in Europe often go above 20 degrees Celsius – and these temperatures damage our products. That’s why we use reefers to transport them.
What is it about Hapag-Lloyd that you value?
The same things that we value about all our partners: quality and adherence to delivery dates and commitments. For me personally, it is also important that I’m listened to by top managementmat Hapag-Lloyd. As a leading company within our industry, we want to have a certain degree of significance at the shipping company. Although Hapag-Lloyd is a top global company, it has maintained the structures of a medium-sized enterprise. And you have maintained a personal touch when dealing with customers. We want to deal with people, not with answering machines or call centres.
How important is price?
Logically – this is a very important factor. However, if thequality and partnership are consistently right, we are also willing to pay a higher price. We generally take an opportunistic approach: price is determined by demand – and we look closely at where we can purchase capacities economically. However, we generally plan on a medium-term basis and rely much more on long-term contracts than on the spot market.
What is your opinion of the current consolidation within the container liner shipping industry?
This market adjustment is a good thing, since the strong and healthy will survive. And I believe that Hapag-Lloyd is among the strong and healthy.
Where does Hapag-Lloyd need to do better?
There is a significant need among all shipping companies in general to speed up their decision-making, on the telephone, for example. By contrast, most freight forwarders make decisions in next to no time. The response times at Hapag-Lloyd can also be a little long sometimes. In general, however, I am very satisfied with you.
What do you find fascinating about the logistics sector?
I was born into a Sicilian entrepreneurial family – and have been interested in logistics since I was a kid. Later in Mannheim, I studied business administration with a focus on logistics. And my interest has only intensified since then. I recently stood on the bridge of a 20,000-TEU container ship in Hamburg and looked out at the countless containers on board. I was once again struck by the fact that we have unlimited availability of goods almost everywhere in the world today. And at this moment, it was tangible once more: my fascination with logistics – and ultimately my fascination with globalization in general.