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An interview with Stefan Reese

“The ‘flexitarian’ will be the future”

Our society is changing: The question of the origin of food, new eating habits and people’s changing requirements are only some of the developments which companies to tackle. Stefan Reese, Managing Director of the bigfood Group, is looking at these issues – with great success.

Mr Reese, how important is food for you?

You will not be surprised to learn that food is extremely important to me nowadays. Unfortunately this was not always the case. When I was a young man, we were not as well informed about food and its importance for your own life. Even young people today are increasingly aware that food which is genetically suitable for your body improves your quality of life.

What is particularly important to you when you buy food?

I am an “extreme shopper” when it comes to food, and I guarantee I’ll come home with something different from what I had planned! I really like getting inspiration from what I see, the freshness or natural ingredients.

What do you consider important with your own products?

We want to offer food which you can’t get everywhere. We believe that products must be individually tailored to the customer. That is the last niche still available in the industry.

Good products alone do not add up to good nutrition – what else do we need?

Every body has its own genetic code, and therefore tolerates some products better than others. So for me, the question to be answered is: are the products suitable for you?

In your view, how will the food market change over the next few years?

I am sure that the food market will start to look at these needs which people have. Of course, this will include an increasing number of vegetarian and vegan products. 2% of Germans today follow a vegan diet, but 50% are prepared to eat vegan food once to three times a week. The “flexitarian” will be the future.

"Feelings and added value have their price"

Stefan Reese

You are bang on trend with many of your products. How do you manage to keep such young stakeholders in the company?

What is crucial to us is that we work as a team: Everyone, even those on the “substitutes’ bench” must be able to rejoice in the result. If we spot someone good, who is a good match for us, we appoint them. I can’t give you a recipe, only that our employee structure reflects modern society. The corporate culture probably makes a lot of closeness to the market.

As suppliers, what customer philosophy do you have?

We no longer talk about customer and supplier, we are partners. What is exciting at the moment is that completely new partner profiles are being created.

In your view, is quality in the food industry nowadays a differentiating feature?

Quality is standard in today’s market. You can still offer quality at reasonable prices, it’s not always a contradiction. Feelings and added value have their price, and at the moment the consumer is prepared to pay for these. This has to be our game plan for the future.

Increasing numbers of people are deciding on a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. What is behind this trend?

In my opinion, this is to do with a change in awareness of an educated an enlightened portion of the population. Factory farming and all the negative issues associated with this are prompting more and more people to make a change.

Is all of this simply a trend, or a permanent lifestyle change with the potential to grow?

We are assuming a permanent trend. Consumers are going to continue wanting to eat healthily and make conscious choices. This will also be the case with a vegan diet. This is why traditional Alpine dairy farming will not die out, their work will become more appreciated again.

BIGFOOD GROUP

The twin pillars of the Bigfood Group are Bigfood Produktion GmbH and HKL Hamburger Käselager GmbH. Over the past two years, these have been joined by the online marketing company and product developer “Kekswerkstatt”, and Ethiconomy Services GmbH as publisher of the Vegan Magazine and organiser of the “Vegan Trade Fair” in Cologne. The Group currently employs 150 people. The latest product range is the fresh vegan line under the brand name “bedda” for the food retail sector and “bedda professional” for the food service area. Under the slogan “make a bedda world”.

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