Podravka is a staple brand in Croatian households. The best way to introduce this iconic brand is the fact that the writer of this article has 22 Podravka’s products in the kitchen at the very moment. Starting with a famous Vegeta in a 6oz shaker, bags of different seasonings, soups, condiments, canned meat and fish and, lastly, a jar of classic Podravka plum jam. We love this brand — because it has a heart.
Podravka is one of the leading food and pharmaceutical companies in this part of Europe. It was established in 1947, on the foundations of a fruit processing and jam producing company started by brothers Marijan and Matija Wolf in 1934. It is situated in the city of Koprivnica, the centre of Podravina region, hence the name Podravka, which is a Croatian word for a female inhabitant of the region. Podravka is first and foremost a food company, but it has also been a pharmaceutical business since 1971, which is led under the brand name Belupo. In this article, we will be focusing on food. Since the beginning, the goal was to create healthy solutions and food experiences for consumers, while constantly innovating and investing in their facilities, new technologies and knowledge.
Fruit processing and jams were just a starting point because in the 1950s the company already expanded its product portfolio to condiments like mustard and ketchup, dried vegetables and canned meat.
In 1957, Podravka soups ‘from the bag’ were introduced with a booth in the Zagreb Autumn Fair, a major economic exhibition. 1959 was a huge year for Podravka because it launched a hit product, all-purpose food seasoning Vegeta which put the company onto the world map. In 1960, Vegeta was first exported to Russia and Hungary, and today it can be found in over 50 countries all over the world. In the 1970s, the company acquired the water bottling plant Lipik and a few years later started producing Lipički Studenac natural mineral water. The same year, the new brand and the new product was introduced, Čokolino baby food and the brand mascot Lino the bear.
In 1993, Podravka became a shareholder company and from 1998 it was listed on the Official Market of the Zagreb Stock Exchange. From 2000 onward, the company showed continuous strategic expansion through acquisitions of domestic and international brands.
In 2000, the Vegeta factory in Poland was open. Two years later, Ital-Ice ice cream factory from Poreč was acquired, as well as Czech company Lagris.
In 2006, tinned fish producer Eva was acquired, and a year later Croatian Lero brand and two Polish brands Warzywko and Perfekta. Podravka made the latest big acquisition in 2015 with the Slovenian Žito Group, and its renowned brands Žito, Zlato polje, Šumi, Maestro, Natura, Gorenjka, 1001 cvet. Today, Podravka has over 6600 employees, production in 4 countries and distribution centres in 11 countries of Central and Southeastern Europe.
The company produces over 1000 different products and sells them in over 60 markets. Numerous Podravka products can even be found on the supermarket shelves in China, Africa, South and North America and Australia. Highlighting just how much of a home-essential this brand has become, infamous supermarket chain Walmart offers a range of Vegeta products.
Even in 2020, with all that is happening in the world, the company showed growth. In the first nine months of 2020, sales revenue increased by 2,8% (HRK 90.1) and net profits went up 8.1% (HRK 210.1 million), over the previous year.
While Vegeta is still the flagship brand, many other Podravka’s brands and products are highly recognisable in Croatia and neighbouring countries and have been an unavoidable part of personal history for many Croatians.
Čokolino and Čokolešnik were a hearty meal and a treat for children. Some are still enjoying a bowl here and there while deep into their adulthood. Kviki snacks are a must at different informal gatherings and, for quick meals, Podravka has different instant soups as well as canned meat or fish. And after all that food, a glass of cold sparkling Studenac or Studena still water.
All of those brands are well established and designed to suit the market. Podravka, as the umbrella brand, went through some changes over the years, following trends and technology, but remained recognisable with the red and white heart as the core of their brand identity. Since the beginning, the company has been keenly aware of the importance of branding and advertising and, with consistency, it remains relevant and loved by consumers.
Some of the slogans that many Croatians know by heart (pun intended) are ‘From heart to heart’ (hr. ‘Od srca srcu’), ‘The company with a heart’ (hr. ‘Kompanija sa srcem’) and famous ‘When it’s cooked with the heart, Podravka soup is cooked’ (hr. ‘Kad se sa srcem kuha, kuha se Podravka juha’).
Instead of a conclusion, we would like to tell you that the Podravka story is not nearly finished, and we invite you to stay tuned and read two more articles (coming soon!) tightly connected to this one, the one about Vegeta as an iconic brand and the one about coolinarika.com, the portal with recipes launched by Podravka which is a go-to place for everyone asking ‘what to cook today?’.