Organic growth provides healthy profits

Newsroom 14/11/2009 | 17:43

Being green is a trendy lifestyle choice nowadays. From recycling to diet food and environmentally-friendly cars, many of us are beginning to adopt a healthier attutide, for ourselves and the planet. For Gabriela Man, the owner of both the Lose Weight by Eating brand (Slabeste mancand) and the firm Dietetica, the “green niche” has seemed to be a successful one. Being highly experienced in medicine, with a ten-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, seven years of which she spent as a regional manager for Ardeal area at a multinational, Man decided to set up her own business. She created a diet flour at the end of 2006, initially for her family's consumption. But later on she noticed that industrial production of these pre-mixes could be a good business. She registered the brand Lose Weight by Eating, and the industrial recipe of her flours at the State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM) in 2008. Today, the entrepreneur owns a production unit with a total capacity of about 300 tons a month. The flours are available through the company's site, while the end-products of which they form part – bread, pastry and confectionery – are distributed through external partners such as Ana Pan. “I decided to launch this business because I believed in the real potential of the diet products market and I think that the Romanian one still is underdeveloped at present,” says Man. She adds that she was convinced that Romanians were becoming increasingly attracted to the idea of health and beauty. To achieve such a goal by using diet products that seem to have no connection to such a concept could therefore be a pretty good solution for consumers. Moreover, Man's belief that she was running a business in a market with high potential was also consistent with her plans for future development.

To extend the production and distribution of the end-products made of these diet flours nationwide through partnerships is her first objective. In this way, the businesswoman hopes to turn a small firm into a mass market one. Man says, “The greatest challenge consists in convincing the supplier of the end-products that customers are willing to buy them and awaiting their arrival on the market.” But such a turnaround needs time. Man is first using the Lose Weight by Eating flour mixes to consolidate the brand image. “Starting from this point, the range of mixes will be extended. This will be a result of two factors: an increased demand for diet products and a larger number of producers from different food industry segments that intend to produce under license other components of a complete range of diet products,” says Man. On the topic of selling her brand at some point, she says that she would consider it once Lose Weight by Eating becomes a strong force on its market.

As for a partnership with an investment fund, the entrepreneur says that this approach would be an option only after her business model is tested and proves itself. In Man's opinion, Dietetica's main current advantage in Romania is the lack of competition: there are no hypoglucidic and high-fiber flour mixes on the local market at present. Plus, these mixes are designed by a medic, and the quality of their glucides structure is carefully monitored. As for the turnover, the entrepreneur says that she cannot give an estimate, as “We are now in discussions with large producers to enter the mass market segment.” In Man's opinion, one of the biggest challenges she faces is that many Romanian producers and distributors are not interested in getting involved on the diet products market because of the current economic crisis. “I knew from the very beginning that I would be a pioneer on this market and it would be very hard to succeed. But this work demands patience,” she says. The entrepreneur adds that she launched production when the crisis had hit Romania too, so she has come up with scenarios for numerous alternatives and possible solutions.

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