Croatian Elderflower Juice from Podravina Family Wins Awards in London

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes, the Croatian elderflower juice from Podravina has been receiving awards from London at the Great Taste competition for some time now. The story of the Kapronca business begins back in 2012 when the family opened the Pavlic Senka family farm and entered the market with elderflower syrup made according to an old family recipe.

”After many blind tastings and small adjustments of my mother’s recipe, we decided we were ready for the first big harvest, but we quickly learned that making a small amount of elderflower syrup which ends up excellent isn’t the same as making a large amount of it, and we had to throw out the first lot.

After five years of gathering more and more experience and engaging in continuous improvement of our production process, we opened the Imanje Kapronca family business, undertook a complete redesign and rebranding, introduced two new flavours of raspberry and mint and were ready for the first application to Great Taste with our elderflower syrup.

The London Awards are our greatest pride, especially when you know how strict the criteria are and what details professional Great Taste tasters are able to recognise. That’s why it is considered one of the most prestigious awards, the so-called Oscar’s in the world of food and drink.

Last year, about 12,800 products from 106 countries were registered, and the competition is extremely strong because almost all of them are “craft” products from smaller manufacturers such as us. We’ve also won the title of Great Taste manufacturer JER, and since 2017 we’ve been winning Great Taste stars for our Kapronca products,” revealed Zvonimir Pavlic, the owner of the estate.

Today, they have six products, juice products without additives, and with raspberry, mint and elderflower, they use only sugar and citric acid.

The production is, as stated, located in Legrad, which is a fifteen-minute drive from Koprivnica (Kapronca is the Hungarian name for Koprivnica), and their current capacity is 2,000 bottles of syrup or 3,000 bottles of juice per day. Last year, they launched a new item – ready-made juice in glass bottles of 290 millilitres.

As well as in stores, they also receive online orders on their Facebook and Instagram pages, and at the level of the year, they recorded revenue growth of about 35 per cent when compared to 2019.

“We’re currently working with a limited number of caterers, which is to be expected because we introduced a new product for the catering and hospitality sector at a time of the greatest uncertainty and when nothing was in operation for months. Of the more famous ones, we can mention the burger chain of the Submarine burger restaurant, with which we’ve been cooperating since our very first bottle of ready-made juice.

We have the most partners in Zagreb, and from the hotel chains, we’ve contracted cooperation with Jadran Crikvenica, Maistra and Arena and others. Together with our distributor Sana delicacies, we’re actively working on gaining cooperation with other hotels and larger camps, but everyone is still cautious and waiting for the outcome of the situation with the pandemic,” stated Pavlic.

The month of May is the precise period when these flowers grow and are then harvested, which lasts until June. Their plantation covers a little more than two hectares, about 1100 elder trees grow on it, they also have mint only from their own cultivation, and they only buy raspberries from one larger Croatian company.

As Pavlic pointed out, although they have not yet established cooperation with local family farms, they hope that this year they will be able to at least partially procure raspberries from local producers. He also added that the share of raw materials from their own cultivation is around 70-75 percent.

“The Croatian elderflower juice is certainly the most sought after, and that isn’t surprising at all, considering the great taste and tradition it has in our families. For many, it is their favourite drink from childhood, and we’re the happiest of all when customers call us and enthusiastically tell us that Kapronca’s juice is just like the grandmother’s juice they used to drink,” reveals Pavlic.

Next year, the family business plans to increase their daily capacity by two or three times, and they are considering the introduction of two new flavours, but that, according to Pavlic, will have to wait until 2022.

“We plan to build our own space for production and the storage of our products because we’re currently working out of a rented space near Koprivnica. We also want to increase our capacity and achieve greater automation of production, filling and packaging.

We’d be happy if we succeeded with the help of EU funds, but unfortunately, we haven’t had any luck with tenders so far. We’ve always been too young or too old a company, we had too small or too big of an economic size or some other technical problem, but we’re not going to give up,” concluded Zvonimir Pavlic.

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