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Lithuania: The results of the partnership between Lidl and Nemateko are improved Pikok meat products

Discount Retail Chain Lidl Lithuania (owned by the German Schwarz Gruppe) constantly cooperates closely with its partners, reviews and improves the composition of its private label branded products in order to ensure the highest possible quality of products that reach customers. Nematekas, one of the largest meat processing companies in Lithuania, which also produces part of the products of the private Lidl brand Pikok, has responsibly undertaken this mission in 2020, Lidl and Nemateko added as many as 8 Lidl and Nemateko shelves to improve Pikok meat products. See here for more on private label development support.

Stasys Gineitis, the head of Lidl Lithuania's meat range, says that the retail chain constantly fulfills its international obligations and promises to its customers for the continuous improvement of product quality. These include reducing salt and sugar and removing or replacing unnecessary food additives with more natural alternatives. "When improving the composition of food products, we try to give priority to those products that are consumed on a daily basis. Customers make a significant impact in the development of our private label products, we pay special attention to the wishes of our customers and take into account trends in society. Therefore, after analyzing the Lithuanian Pikok meat products in the range, we provide suggestions and recommendations to our partners, according to which we could improve their quality together,” says S. Gineitis. We strive to improve our products constantly Rūta Vaicekauskaitė, Head of New Product Development and Implementation at Nematekas, says that the company makes every effort to ensure the quality of all its products, but recently there is a noticeable and growing need for new products with improved composition.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our products and focus on finding more natural additives as alternatives to chemical additives. At the same time, of course, we strive to ensure that neither the taste nor the functional properties of the products are affected, ”says the interlocutor. The long path of improvement ended successfully According to the representative of Lidl Lithuania, the company's partners willingly accepted Lidl's initiatives and decided to work intensively. Product development is a long process and the process from idea to product with a modified composition takes more than one month. "Initially, we consulted with product suppliers, discussed alternatives in formulations, and their food technologists prepared new samples. We responsibly checked these offers, organized both internal and consumer tastings, because we wanted to make sure that the usual taste and appearance characteristics of the customers would remain the same. Finally, most of the products in the Pikok range have been able to remove unnecessary dyes, maintaining the visual quality of the product and replacing artificial flavors with natural ones, while preserving the good taste of the products,” says S. Gineitis.

The artificial coloring was replaced by natural beet dyes according to R. Vaicekauskaitė, after receiving a request from Lidl Lithuania to improve the composition of a part of the range, Nematekas willingly undertook this task and based on the accumulated experience thoroughly improved the composition of Pikok products. As the company has been cooperating with the discounter for more than a year, such a request was not a surprise. A total of 8 products of the category range were improved Baroni cooked in the highest quality sausage, premium salami in cold smoked sausage, sliced, cooked Hot Dog sausages and artificial pork in the cooked premium pork sausage were replaced or removed. Also, cold-smoked sliced ​​skiland, boiled pork and chicken sausage with a mesh and premium dried ham sausage are free of carmine dye. They have been replaced with natural dyes, such as beet dyes, or removed altogether. Finally, the highest quality sliced ​​dried sausage is not only free of carmine dye, it has also been reduced in salt content. "We are glad that we have managed to maintain the same taste, smell and appearance of the products, and this process, which required a lot of effort, was successful, and the results can already be seen by the people of the country," says Nematekas, Head of New Product Development.

Production processes are aligned to the smallest detail. As Nematekas operates in accordance with current European regulations and has the highest rating of the IFS standard, which reflects strict control of all production processes. According to her, the company also has a Navision process management system, which helps to further align the company's internal kitchen. It records and manages all production processes, from the acceptance of raw materials, spices, additives and packaging materials to the placing of products on the market.“ During production, our technologists and craftsmen evaluate the appearance, consistency, smell and taste of the products, and all technological processes take place according to the computer programs created for each product group. Then we label and package the products according to all regulations, and the products in the finished product warehouse are inspected by measuring their gas, weight and internal temperature,” says R. Vaicekauskaitė. Careful care does not bypass any product Nematekas The head of new product development and implementation notes that Lidl's Pikok range of products, like all of the company's products, are set aside for reference samples in order to verify that they are properly shelf life.“ In addition, we have selected a team of specialists who taste the products from all the batches produced on the respective day. In this way, we can guarantee that only products suitable for consumption will be delivered to Lidl stores.

Also, in order to evaluate the composition of the products and their compliance with the established standards, the products are subjected to food testing with the FoodScan food analyzer. Finally, we also perform research in external laboratories, from raw materials, spices, additives, air, water and ice tests to finished products, washes from inspections of employees or equipment,” says R. Vaicekauskaitė. Special attention is paid to the quality of all goods in the discounter, S. Gineitis emphasizes that Lidl Lithuania applies a consistent product quality assurance system to all products offered in the retail chain and strictly takes care of their quality from negotiations with suppliers on possible cooperation to daily sales." Our quality regulations apply not only to Pikok products, but also to other Lidl private brands, we require our partners to regularly inspect products, and in parallel we perform both laboratory analytical and sensory tests, and initiate process inspections at suppliers' production sites." says the head of Lidl Lithuania's meat assortment.

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