Butcher Westy visits butchers The Meat Joint in Essex for a demo full of inspiration about fresh ready-meal concepts and traybakes.
The strategy is People, Planet and Profit
“I see plenty of opportunities for Epos,” says Director Elske Mouw. She is not just aiming for commercial success, she is also focusing on corporate social responsibility. “You shouldn’t wait until this is enforced by regulations.”
“Corporate social responsibility must be led by an intrinsic motivation. Ultimately you will be rewarded for this strategy.” Mouw has now been leading Epos for over two years. It’s not an unknown industry for her; her father founded a mill for dried vegetables which, nearly 20 years ago, was taken over by her youngest brother who made the switch to herbs and spices. She herself chose a different path. “I studied business administration and then worked in sales and consultancy. This included being a Director and co-partner of a consultancy company. When this company was sold I had to make a decision: continue in the same branch or do something different. If you’re working for the best company in your field, which in my view I was, you don’t go and work for another company in the same field. So I opted to change fields and joined the family business. I focused primarily on the sales side, because I find the relationship with people fascinating. You have to know the company, and that means you also have to know the people who work in it, from the Receptionist to the Board members. Epos is one of the customers I brought in. When the then Director of Epos left the company the Bieze Food Group’s Board asked if I would like to take his place at Epos. I thought it was a great opportunity: Epos is just a little bit further up the chain.”
A change of course
With Mouw at the helm Epos took a different course. “There were certainly things to do in the Company. In some cases Epos could respond to and connect to new systems and developments quite quickly and easily. We also had to get the right people in the right place. I also saw various commercial opportunities. Epos’ main area of activity had always been the meat sector and the Company had become one of the major herb and spice brands for butchers. Epos really had earned its position in that world and I thought it was time to broaden our horizons. We no longer focus solely on the Dutch meat sector. As Epos already has a strong presence in that sector the opportunity for further growth is limited. However, there are opportunities for Epos in other sectors, such as bakery, vegetables, snacks and ready-meals. We are also focusing on export. Including with the Dutch Spices brand. This brand was introduced 10 years ago. Last year we opted for a rebranding. Our message now focuses on inclusivity. Dutch Spices’ products are suitable for everyone, not only because they exclude the 14 legally designated allergens but also because they comply with vegan and halal dietary requirements. This makes them ideal for the British and Irish markets which are ahead of the Dutch market in these areas.”
A course change like this does put some demands on a company. And on the new leadership. “I am honest and straightforward. People can say anything to me. It does take them a bit of time to get used to my honesty and directness. I don’t pretend to have a monopoly on the truth. At Epos it’s about the people behind the flavours. Some of them have worked for Epos for many years and know far more about the Company or products than I do. At the same time I do have ideas. What’s really good is when people see my input as their own idea and act accordingly.”
Epos wants to inspire customers with surprising flavours and new products. The website is full of recipes. “However, we want to do more than just inspire – we want to be a knowledge partner for our customers. Developments follow each other quickly; you have to keep up in all sorts of area. Areas like legislation and regulations for example, but also sustainability, health and corporate social responsibility. That requires investments, for example in innovations and R&D. Herbs and spices are fantastic products with a secure future. People will keep on eating and flavour will keep on being important. “Seeing and seizing opportunities puts you in a good commercial position. However, I believe that as a company you should want more and show more. Our raw materials come from countries in which working conditions are very often not the best. That situation has to be addressed. Climate change has an effect on our industry because it influences the availability of raw materials. In terms of sustainability, for example, steps can be taken in the area of packaging and helping to combat food waste. This is how we remain a reliable partner; not only for customers but also for the future generation.”
Source: Interview EVMI 5 - September 2023
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