On the path to fame with good taste
"The path to fame" – strictly speaking, for the frozen pizza manufacturer it is more like a staircase that leads past the certificates for excellent product quality. In 2006 HASA GmbH started production on a greenfield site in Burg, in the north of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. Since then, their pizzas have been awarded the DLG gold and silver medals.Companies voluntarily allow the quality of their products to be tested by the German Agriculture Society (DLG). "This review is very important for our company. As a family-run, medium-sized company, we only have a chance alongside the market-leading corporations if we focus exactly on where we can get better", say the company founders Andreas Czayka and Holger Pitsch. Their vision when founding HASA in 2003 was: "To put a new generation of pizza onto the market". Convincing the retail market was hard work, says Andreas Czayka, who does not hide the fact that HASA was once set back on the path to fame when canvassing from door to door. Of course you can talk as much as you want, says the sales expert, but the decisive factor is always the taste.
His business partner and brother-in-law, the food technologist Holger Pitsch, played a major part in making the tastings a sustained success. "Only flour, yeast, olive oil, water and salt make up the pizza dough, which should have the fresh taste of Italian pizzas", says Holger Pitsch. The new generation of frozen pizzas focuses on the trend toward naturalness – without raising agents, flavour enhances and preservatives – and to a consistently high quality. "The special feature in the production of our pizza dough is the production technology. It enables a gentle processing with 24-hour resting time", explains Pitsch. "Our innovative production systems can recreate the traditional baking process in a stone oven. The result is light yet crispy." Czayka agrees, nodding his head. "Our Italissimo tastes like a stone oven pizza from Italy." The two natives of Lübeck, a city in the north of Western Germany, knew what a traditional Italian pizza tasted like even before German reunification.
The HASA founders also knew in 2003 that they would not build a prosperous enterprise as a newcomer on the market with just their own brand Italissimo. However, many paths lead to fame. HASA frozen pizzas are not only under its own brand but also under the brands of the supermarkets Edeka, Kaufland, Penny and Netto an embodiment of good taste. The pizza producer from the city of Burg is with over 100 recipes on (almost) every dinner table in Germany. That also includes the organic pizza, which seems a logical addition to the product range when it comes to the healthy image of the products.
The development department responds quickly and flexibly to the wishes of the customers. "The short decision-making process within our family business is our big advantage", says Andreas Czayka. "We only need 90 days from the recipe idea to the delivery of the pizza in a customised folding box!"
Twenty refrigerated trucks depart daily from the premises. Some milestones along the path to fame: Increase in production from 36 million pizzas in 2006 to 80 million pizzas in 2014. Five percent of these are exported to Latvia, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Chile. The construction of a new logistics centre for frozen products in 2011, the commissioning of a second production line with an increase in capacity to 120 million pizzas per year in 2012, and the increase in the number of employees from five at the beginning to 174 today.
Production workers, logistics experts, dispatchers, food technologists, product developers, control engineers and administrative employees all come from the region, mostly young people. All employees at the HASA company have a permanent position rather than a temporary contract. "This job security creates a positive working atmosphere", says Andreas Czayka. The in-house motivation also affects the willingness to start a family. HASA provides the best conditions for a next generation.
That the new generation of pizza starts its path to fame from Saxony-Anhalt was a decision that was made from the range of experience of Holger Pitsch. The food expert came to Saxony-Anhalt back in the 1990s and had been professionally involved in the development of a few companies. "The food industry of Saxony-Anhalt is well established", says Pitsch. The technologist has extensive knowledge of the profession and has a good network, even across industries. HASA is also interested in the resources that Saxony-Anhalt traditionally has in the field of mechanical engineering. In the competition among pizza producers, the innovativeness and efficiency of the production process are just as essential as naturalness and quality. "We are working on this area together with the renowned research institute Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in the state’s capital Magdeburg", says Holger Pitsch.
HASA GmbH has invested 35 million euros in its modern production facility since 2006. Saxony-Anhalt, located in the centre of Germany, and the city of Burg with its proximity to well-developed transport routes were the right choice of location, the company founders believe. "The city has provided us with a good overall package, allowing us to set up the site from the beginning so that subsequent production expansions are possible", says Holger Pitsch.
HASA intends to make use of this possibility again in the near future. An additional high freezer rack is to be completed by 2015.
And which new product ideas will follow on the path to success? "People over the age of 45 are eating pizza nowadays – unlike before", says market researcher Andreas Czayka. "We want to create a smaller pizza with high-quality toppings for this target group."Author: Kathrain Graubaum on behalf of IMG Saxony-Anhalt