A solid biscuit base

Having established a strong position within its core markets, Danish snack producer Bisca is focused on expanding not only its product range, but also its global footprint

In 2015 Bisca celebrated is 125th year as a leader in the Danish snack industry. Founded by the Volf family, the company’s product range of biscuits and cakes are sold under its main brands, Karen Volf and Bisca. Operating out of its facility in Stege Moen, Bisca delivers to market a wide variety of products from traditional digestives, crackers and cakes, to organic treats, healthy snacks and traditional Danish desserts. “Our strength is that we are sufficiently large to have cost efficient production in order to compete with some of the major players in the industry, yet at the same time are small enough to operate with a flexibility and agility that they cannot match,” begins current CEO, Michael Møller Jensen. “We are placed right in the middle where we can compete on price and are still able to do short production runs and bring new products to market quickly.”

Such a competitive agility puts Bisca in a particularly strong position in the current market where consumers and retailers remain keenly focused on price, but where there is growing room for new opportunities. “Right now it is a very competitive market as the markets emerge from a recession and consumers are looking closely at prices,” Michael continues. “This makes it very challenging to find the resources to put into innovation and product development. Consumers prefer cheaper products at the moment instead of higher quality, innovative offerings.” However, despite this he does note that over recent months consumer spending is starting to increase and Bisca’s ability to react effectively will be put into practice over the next year.

Early in 2016, the business will be launching its first entry into the organic segment with a small assortment of 25biscuit products to test the market. “We always approach product development through market trend analysis, which we gather from trade fairs and customer engagement, and then use our in-house innovation team to develop new products in line with this,” Michael says. “We know that there is an increasing trend for organic products in the market and we are excited to see how consumers will respond to this entry within this particular sector.”

The launch will begin within its biscuit range to assess consumer response before expanding into its cake range according to initial success. However, Michael expresses his interest in seeing just how well organic products are received in what is predominantly a ‘treat’ sector. “This is going to be our first step into the organic movement and we want to examine to what extent our consumers are prepared to buy organic and whether they are prepared to pay that little bit extra for it,” he notes. “If we do see a willingness here then we will be looking at expanding this across the range.”

Continuous improvement
One area where Bisca particularly prides itself is in the consistent quality that it delivers to its customers. Operating under BRC and IFS accredited procedures, the company’s attention to quality production goes beyond simply following guidelines, manifesting itself in a culture that sees quality as a natural part of production. The same focus can be applied to its approach to sourcing with quality ingredients taking precedence alongside a responsible strategy. “One of the latest actions we have taken is moving from caged chicken eggs to free-range eggs,” highlights Michael. “We feel that it is important for us to move in a direction where we can take responsibility for the quality of our supply chain and also food safety. We consistently try to improve our products under these corporate social responsibility terms.”

Throughout its history, Bisca has successfully established itself as a key player in its core Scandinavian markets, with the majority of its turnover coming from the retail sector here. “As we look ahead we are in the process of expanding our focus to look at the wider European and Chinese export markets,” explains Michael. “We don’t have huge expectations in terms of export turnover and earnings for 2016, but we do feel that we have the potential to build good platforms for growth this year.” In addition to this the next 12 months will also be focused on continuing to launch new product developments in order to increase its share of existing markets.

“With this in mind, over the coming years we want to have built a business where we are a clear market leader with a strong brand, which includes a robust organic range within our key markets,” Michael concludes as he looks ahead. “In terms of export we hope to have established a stable and growing business in new markets as well as having a presence in China.”