Autumn in Russia is the time to roll up the banks. However, this type of homework is becoming less and less popular among modern housewives. It would seem that this fact should open up new opportunities for canned vegetable producers and farmers growing vegetables ...
But in reality, everything is not so clear.
On the one hand, the production of canned vegetables in the country is indeed increasing, new enterprises are opening, and demand is growing.
According to BusinesStat, from 2012 to the end of 2016, sales of canned products increased by 5,4% and amounted to 2016 million tons at the end of 1,34. On the other hand, the choice of canned vegetables on store shelves remains rather limited. At the moment, the lion's share of the Russian canned vegetable market belongs to several product groups: canned cucumbers and tomatoes; green peas and corn; tomato paste; beans; squash caviar; olives and olives.
Meanwhile, in most regions, cabbage, carrots, beets, onions, and potatoes are massively grown. Some of this production is also used for conservation, but so far it is insignificant. Salads, pickled beets, ready-made soups - all of this at large mills often goes in addition to the main assortment, and the demand for these positions in the central regions of Russia is not yet high enough to stimulate factories to increase production volumes, especially since this is not easy to do.
The business of producing canned vegetables, like any other related to production, cannot be called easy. The start of a project requires significant investments (almost every product requires a separate line). At the same time, expensive equipment is used on average two to three months a year. Hence, there are problems with personnel: for three months a year people are employed in three shifts, the remaining nine - there is no work. Sales volumes also directly depend on the season.
Seasonality is one of the key problems for enterprises in this sector. As noted by the expert on the conservation market, the author of the Conservator's Tips page on Facebook, marketer Daria Bakushina, the bulk of production falls on the summer and early fall. Accordingly, this is the most costly period for factories (raw materials are being purchased), but it is during these months that the industry reaches its “bottom” of sales: buyers prefer fresh vegetables to canned ones. The invested funds begin to gradually return (depending on the type of conservation) not earlier than November, but more often much later, since the products are usually shipped to stores with a deferred payment.
It is logical that the main focus on production is given to the most marginal positions. According to Daria Bakushina, it is unprofitable for a manufacturer to keep a winter product with a turnover of less than 200 thousand cans, and in the summer it should be about millions of cans. Salads (as well as other products from vegetables of borscht set) do not belong to this category. Therefore, they are often made in the "off season", from more expensive raw materials. And this, as the expert emphasizes, also affects the popularity of the product: a good tasty salad cannot cost less than 100 rubles, and the buyer is not ready to pay such an amount.
Another problem is the high level of competition and the difficulty of getting into retail chains. According to Leonid Goncharov, Commercial Director of Abakan Factory-Kitchen LLC, in the niche in which his enterprise operates (production of ready-made canned soups and main courses), there are at least a hundred other factories with which they compete daily for the shelf in the store.
Producers of natural canned vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, onions) are less sensitive to the situation on the market. These canned food is supplied to law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and regions of the Far North. Although there is competition here as well: the state contract for supplies is received by the one who was able to offer a product that meets the requirements of GOST at the lowest price. Keeping prices down can be tricky for a variety of reasons.
Elena Ismailova, manager of the Nizhnegorsk cannery (Republic of Crimea), complains that at the moment, it can be difficult for her company to compete with mainland companies. The Crimean bridge is closed for trucks, which means that containers and ingredients for preservation are delivered to the plant in a roundabout way, as well as delivery of finished products to customers. Logistics costs increase production costs.
But this is a private and, I would like to believe, temporary problem. But all manufacturers periodically face the rise in prices for raw materials. So this season, representatives of enterprises refuse to talk about possible prices for their products until the end of the harvest. “The beginning of summer was hot, there was not enough moisture, and many farmers say that vegetables will be expensive,” explains Elena Ismailova. "But how expensive we don't know yet." “Cold, heat, hail, locusts - what has not been in the country this season,” says Daria Bakushina. - At least crops such as peas, corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers were affected. The prime cost will be several times higher. "
Speaking of raw materials. It is interesting that none of the representatives of enterprises surveyed named the shortage of raw materials, supply disruptions, or the poor quality of farm products as problems. Everyone talked about established long-term relationships, reliable suppliers. But the lack of state support in the face of rising tariffs for gasoline and utilities, taking into account the increase in VAT up to 2019% from 20, was noted more than once.
According to Daria Bakushina, today the industry does not feel the help of the authorities: “It is not easy to get a subsidy in a difficult situation, and if you succeed, then you must immediately pay VAT on this amount. If there is an enthusiast, a smart business executive, with good professionals, with money, with minimal opposition from the local administration, he will take a plot in the field, build a plant there, plant a crop and process it, then it’s good if at least they don’t interfere. But making a good product is half the battle. Still need to sell. One more command is needed. I have great respect for such owners who, one might say, “in spite of” feed people. ”
This is another important issue of modern domestic production. In the canning industry today, the usual Soviet practices are mainly used, although certain changes are still taking place. According to Natalia Posokina, head of the canning technology laboratory at the All-Russian Research Institute of Canning Technology, most often adjustments are made after purchasing new equipment: for example, heat treatment on modern lines is usually carried out in more gentle conditions, allowing you to store more vitamins in the finished product . But in the future, from the point of view of the VNIITEK expert, most of the large enterprises will most likely completely switch to foreign technologies, taking into account the fact that many plants are already part of world holdings today.
The Russian tradition of packaging canned vegetables has been unchanged for decades: canneries pack their products in glass and metal cans. The popularity of cans is not accidental: they allow you to maintain the quality of the product from two to four years. But there are obvious disadvantages: glass breaks easily, food grade steel is expensive.
A reasonable alternative to the above options could be a tetra-pack, familiar to the Russian buyer for other types of products (remember, for example, juices). From the point of view of the manufacturer, such packaging is almost flawless: the product is convenient in transportation, storage, display. But today on the shelves of domestic stores “in cardboard” you can find only tomatoes in their own juice in Italian, imported. None of the Russian producers of canned vegetables uses Tetra Pak.
Daria Bakushina explains this fact by the market's unpreparedness for changes. According to the expert, the re-equipment of production for a new type of packaging will be a very costly event for enterprises, this will affect the cost of goods, but the buyer is not ready to pay for a product in a tetra pack more expensive than for a similar one - in a tin or glass can. Nobody takes risks in the current economic conditions.
Another possible packaging option found in European stores is a plastic bag. But Russian specialists have even more questions for him. According to Daria Bakushina, the shelf life of canned vegetables in plastic packaging is reduced to one year, while it is important to remember that retail chains accept products for sale with a residual period of at least 60%. That is, if the product was released in July 2018, it will be possible to ship it until about December, in fact - until the moment when mass sales begin.
To predict which way the industry will take in the near and even more distant future is a thankless task. But to assume the most likely scenarios, based on experience and market knowledge, is quite realistic.
According to Daria Bakushina, in the future, we can expect the development of personalization of packaging: the manufacturer will focus on a variety of buyers and offer a product of different volumes, ranging from the minimum - per one serving for one person - to the maximum (and most economical), for a large family or HoReCa businesses.
Another logical direction, from the point of view of an expert, is the topic of health. It is already actively supported at the state level: on June 1, 2018, the Traffic Light project was launched in Russia - to label food in three colors - green, yellow and red - depending on the content of salt, sugar and fat in them. So far, manufacturers are taking part in the project on a voluntary basis. But in a country where the number of people suffering from carbohydrate metabolism, insulin resistance and diabetes is increasing every year, it makes sense to launch a sugar-free or reduced-salt and sugar-free product line.
And, of course, new products will appear on the market. Daria Bakushina already now notes the growing popularity of canned chickpeas, lentils, black beans, sun-dried tomatoes, okra, capers and other goods unusual for a Russian.
We, in turn, on behalf of the editorial office, express hope that against the background of a gradual decline in the interest of the population in growing vegetables on personal farms and improving the standard of living in the country, the production of canned food will also grow from domestic raw materials. And these products will be no less in demand than foreign ones.