Entrepreneur Vladimir Mitrofanov for several years developed stores "Everything for sushi", where you could buy ingredients for Japanese cuisine. And during a trip to Japan, he learned about the existence of matcha green tea, which is used in confectionery.
FIELD OF ACTIVITY
Matcha green tea production
Now in Russia he produces green chocolate Okasi. The annual turnover of the company is 4 million rubles. He hopes to increase profitability by launching his own production.
150 000 rubles
How the idea was born
I entered the Law Institute of the General Prosecutor's Office and moved from St. Petersburg to Kostroma. For some time I was engaged in organizing holidays, until in 2009 the idea of the project "Everything for sushi" came to me. I really liked Japanese cuisine, tried to cook at home and realized that there are not so many places where you can buy ingredients. My friend and I started selling goods for Japanese cuisine: we opened a store by investing 900,000 rubles in it. In 2011, the second appeared.
I first visited Japan in 2010 and then learned about the existence of matcha green tea. Initially, it was positioned as ceremonial tea, which wealthy people consumed on holidays. It is produced in an unusual way. The topmost leaves are collected, dried and ground on granite millstones to the state of powder. The millstones rotate slowly and do not heat up during friction - the minimum temperature effect on the tea leaf allows you to save all the beneficial substances. At some point, the Japanese began to use the match in the manufacture of confectionery.
In March 2012, I launched the Greencake online store to sell matchday cheesecakes to restaurants. But I didn’t want to dwell on this: in Japan, I once tried chocolate with green tea, which managed to gain popularity in many countries. So the idea of Okasi (from the Japanese "sweetness") came about, which would be engaged in the sale of Japanese desserts and sweets from the match. The first product was supposed to be chocolate.
Creating your own production is very expensive. Even when using Chinese equipment, the launch of a full-fledged line will cost at least 15 million rubles. In addition, such a line is capable of producing 800 kilograms of chocolate per hour, and my product for the market was new, and it was difficult to imagine where to sell such an amount of chocolates. I decided to release a small amount of test products in outsourcing, in order to understand whether it is interesting to consumers.
The Japanese highly value their intellectual rights. They agreed to share the chocolate recipe from the match only on condition of a large volume of tea purchases. To get started, I bought almost all the chocolate samples that I could find in order to fully study the composition and understand what I like and what not. The recipe was actually obtained experimentally: technologists used all the available information from the Internet, experimented. Then they gave it to the sample: the Japanese - for comparison with the original, the Russians - to understand whether they like it or not.
The next step was to find a suitable production. I sent the recipe and tea to several factories in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and out of ten, only two coped with the task: one from St. Petersburg, the other from Moscow, and their price was almost the same. I was based in the Northern capital and, for logistics reasons, chose the Aztec factory in St. Petersburg.
150,000 rubles were spent on working out the recipe, purchasing raw materials and packaging from the “Everything for sushi” profit. I sold the first batch for four to five months in my stores and through partners, at events - the Anime Festival, Anime Show, Samurai: Art of War. In late autumn 2012, we produced the first batch designed for retail.
In June 2013, I suspended Everything for Sushi to devote all my time to a new project. He did not begin to form the state, but attracted representatives of third-party companies: the production director, chief technologist help me, consultants - representatives of suppliers from the Japanese side.
I started selling chocolate in sushi stores. There is a small average check, and the owners are not averse to increasing it by selling related products. Later, it was possible to agree with several small premium chains - Land and Super Babylon, shops of the Krupskaya factory, Sea of tea, SuperSiva. In the first year, sales amounted to 2,500-3,000 chocolates per month. One chocolate bar in retail costs from 190 to 250 rubles, depending on the place of sale.
Although at the moment St. Petersburg remains the main sales center, Okasi chocolate can be found in more than 30 cities of the country. Often there are only one or two points in the city that sell 10-20 tiles per month. To enter a federal network, a small producer needs a lot of organizational and financial effort, especially if the product is new to the market.
Match - natural antioxidant contains lots of nutrients that's why our chocolate fits people watching their diet
Tea is bought either once a month or once a quarter, depending on the season. Delivery time from the moment you contact the company is about a month. If it sells an order of magnitude more, then no one can bring me a new batch of tea the next day. So we sag on time: there are customers who need to ship the goods, but chocolate is not ready yet.
Outsourcing is also a problem. Since our volumes are small, they are not a priority for the factory, and they put us in the production plan in the second, or even third place. Cause additional difficulties and small volumes. Relatively speaking, printing 1,000 packs of chocolate can cost you 50 rubles, but if you print 10,000, you will pay only 5 rubles. The larger the scale of purchases of raw materials and packaging, the cheaper they will cost.
So far, 80 gram chocolate bars containing 5% matcha tea is our main product. Tea is bought in the Japanese Uji Valley, and chocolate is bought in Belgium and Belarus. The Aztec factory is engaged in the supply of raw materials for chocolate, so I do not have to work with customs.
In June 2013, under the Okasi brand, I released another type of sweets - a 50-gram marzipan bar from the match. So far they are not being sold as actively as we would like - about 1,000 units a month, but here we must not forget that marzipan as a whole is a fairly new product for the Russian market.
Matcha is a natural antioxidant, contains many useful substances. Our main target group is girls from 25 to 32 who are interested in new products in the market and are not afraid to experiment. An additional layer is young people 21-23 years old who use products with a tonic effect. Finally, the third group includes those who are interested in Japan and have already heard about tea match.
There are no direct competitors in Russia: nobody produces chocolate with green tea. The "chocolate" market is conservative: it is quite large, but stagnant. The largest brands are bought up by smaller factories and come up with nothing fundamentally new.
There are many direct competitors in the world, mainly in Japan and China. It was a discovery for me that in Europe there are several manufacturers who not only produce chocolate from the match, but also improve its taste by adding new ingredients. In 2011, at one of the world exhibitions, the French chocolatier received a medal for his own recipe for chocolate from the match, where he added yutza - a hybrid of mandarin and Ichansky lemon. Nevertheless, foreign manufacturers in most cases are focused on their local markets and rarely go beyond them. About five years ago, attempts to produce chocolate from the match arose in Belarus, but sales did not go.
Today, the gross margin on each chocolate sold is 15%. For investors, we are not the most interesting project: it is not necessary to predict large market growth in four to five years. The share of chocolate with flavors in Russia is not more than 5%. Our product can saw off from this small piece a maximum of 20%.
In 2013, we planned to reach 4.5 million rubles in turnover for all products, but received 4 million rubles. In March, the project should pay off.
We began to work on increasing the assortment line. The main task for this year is to expand the sales market and tighten the adjacent audience by going to the ABC of Taste, Globus Gourmet, K-Ruoka, Prisma networks in St. Petersburg and Moscow. I would still like to attract federal networks. In parallel, we plan to enter the specialized market and sell products in stores at gas stations.
More and more often I am starting to think about opening my own small production capable of producing 100-150 kilograms of chocolate per day and occupied only with my product. The absence of dependence on the overall flow and factory schedule would improve profitability.
Author: Elena Kiseleva
Photos: Valentin Belikov