Lat Eko Food – true taste and quality
The largest manufacturer of biological fruit and vegetable processing products in Latvia – the company, Lat Eko Food, has been created in true care about children’s health and family wellbeing. Currently, being proud of her achievements, Egija Martinsone, the Chairperson of the Board, can reveal her formula for success – these are biologically grown local products, innovative technologies and an environmentally-friendly, sustainable business. The value added and the secret component is a pinch of love.
Egija Martinsone’s son, Rūdolfs, is now studying in the 4th in grade, but when he was born Egija had a great deal of trouble feeding him – he reluctantly ate the baby food available back then. It was then that Egija started to prepare food from biologically -grown products, and soon after she decided that other babies in Latvia also deserved to eat healthily. As a result, the company Lat Eko Food was established in 2010, and now the factory in Ādaži region send their products to almost all the continents. It can surely be said that this is the future business, because the philosophy of Lat Eko Food is based on taking care of not only human, but also environmental health. What illusions in business did you have to say goodbye to, and have you got any positive insights? The illusion that everything is simple and easy. The most important thing is determination and perseverance, because in the process of realizing an idea, as well as in everyday work, many problems and obstacles are often encountered. Initially, it seemed like a good idea and a clear vision is enough to keep things going smoothly, but when starting to realize the ideas, we faced new challenges and unexpected situationsthat required a great deal of determination. If you want to do something, you will always find a way to do it, if you don’t – you’ll find arguments.
A foreign expert advised Latvia to position itself as a producer of organic food. What do you think about that?
Latvia is a green country with great potential for organic food production, but the sector is not yet fully developed – it is in its infancy. Public interest in organic and quality food has increased in recent years. People are paying more attention to what they eat and choose products for everyday use more carefully. Food growers and producers are also taking this into account by offering a wider range of organic products. There are many farms that are ready to start organic farming, and this is a very positive indicator for gaining international recognition as a producer of quality organic food.
How is the cooperation with local producers going?
Cooperation with Latvian farms is improving. It takes a long time to build a successful partnership, and since this is our tenth production season our cooperation is getting better and more promising year after year. However, we all have a lot to learn in order to be aware of what we are producing, and we need to be very keen to do it. We cooperate with domestic and foreign suppliers. We buy most fruits and vegetables from local farmers and exotic raw materials from other countries. It is very important to choose a stable and reliable partner and become one yourself.
Everyone complains about labour shortages; how do you motivate your employees?
New challenges, opportunities for growth, a positive workplace atmosphere, and employee appreciation are key motivating factors. Of course, remuneration is also important. Today’s technology enables more and more automated processes to be introduced in production, but human resources are needed anyway. We strive to create a work environment where people feel well, are interested and feel valued. Our employees are the best we could wish for; together we feel like a big family and a strong team that can go all the way.
Which of your products are the most popular?
«Rūdolfs» BIO, whose story began with the production of baby food. Products for children have gained a lot of popularity, but in recent years we have been offering products for the whole family – smoothies, ketchups, jams, vegetable and fruit creams. We are the largest producer of 100% organic fruit and vegetable products in Latvia and we are particularly proud of the excellent quality and excellent taste of our products, which have been appreciated by customers not only in Latvia, but also in other European countries and around the world like China, Canada, Singapore, South Korea, Dubai, Qatar and Russia. The «Rūdolfs» BIO ketchups are very popular – they have a classic and spicy taste, and do not contain artificial flavourings, preservatives, starch and gluten. The flavour is enriched with natural spices and herbs; ketchup lovers are excited. People who pay special attention to nutrition and physical fitness are very fond of «Rūdolfs» BIO smoothies. They do not contain added sugar or dairy products and do not contain gluten. Smoothies are chosen as a substitute for a light meal and are very convenient for busy days or for use before or after physical activity. This is a great way to take a daily dose of fruit quickly and conveniently. Rūdolfs’ latest products – sugar-free fruit creams, which are a healthy alternative to jam, and vegetable creams that perfectly refresh breakfast sandwiches, make them healthier, more colourful and varied.
What innovations do you have in mind?
Every year we work on developing new and innovative products, and we are currently working on several new projects. In the nearest future we plan to expand our adult selection. We develop new products with a strong focus on adding value. In each of our products we try to combine healthy and delicious tastes, while preserving the natural values of the ingredients.
Are there any innovations in the field of advanced equipment and technology? We are constantly investing in company development, new equipment and technology to optimize the production process. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to use EU funds in cooperation with various institutions – this is a great support for the faster development and growth of young entrepreneurs.
Who are your teachers in business? Are there any influencers who inspire you?
There are many inspiring and successful people to learn from. I met my business teachers while working at Jelgava Business Incubator. Later, I came across inspirational personalities who gave useful advice in life and in business. It’s great that there are people who know and want to share their experience and knowledge. I like to get to know biographies of prominent personalities and to draw useful insights there. The last book I read was Steve Jobs’s biography, and from this book I have learned many valuable insights into what needs to be done and what is not in order to succeed in business. I am currently reading the autobiography of Ion Mask, and it is unique that there are so many energetic, intelligent and miraculous people in the world to get inspired by. It is interesting to look through the prism of each well-known success story hero’s path to the goal.
Please tell us about people’s eating habits regarding your products? Does each country have its own national characteristics and traditions that influence choices?
We offer international products that are popular all over the world and sometimes they seem to be better known outside of Latvia, such as fruit and vegetable creams that are very popular in Scandinavia and elsewhere. The majority of Latvian people prefer traditional flavours and familiar products. We take Latvian habits into consideration and offer products for both traditional value lovers and those who like to experiment. As I said, it is very positive that the demand for organic food is increasing; this makes me happy. We also take part in various international exhibitions, both inside and outside Europe, where we gain valuable experience of the country’s eating culture, habits and tastes. We definitely respect this when starting a business with a foreign company and often adjust the taste and packaging to the wishes of the customer.
Climate change is a hot topic right now. Does it also affect your business?
We have not been affected by climate change, but it could have a profound impact on farmers, businesses and many sectors of the economy in the future. In this case, I would like to think positively and do everything in our power to protect nature and not provoke extreme phenomena. In our work we strive to find the best possible solutions to protect the environment.
What, in the context of your business, can people do individually and what can government and non-governmental organizations do to promote the environment and promote sustainable and responsible business?
One individual is not enough to be able to create positive change, it is a task for the whole world. Businesses need to think about using green energy and minimizing environmental pollution. As we try to take care of the protection of natural resources we use 100% green electricity from renewable resources, actively work to develop waste-free management, reduce and sort waste, try to use environmentally friendly materials and packaging, we try not to pollute water or air with our prodution, we work actively to save water and electricity, move to electronic document circulation and storage, and keep our area clean and tidy at all times. It is necessary to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible. You have to live green and start with yourself, then there is a great hope that others will follow. It is positive that nowadays zero-waste philosophy has gained great popularity in Latvia as well. This is a step that anyone can take for the sake of protecting the environment. My 10-year-old son, Rūdolfs, has a strong desire to take care of pollution in nature and is actively working to help maintain the environment in order to get rid of plastic and other materials that are harmful to the environment. He is deeply concerned about the polluted seas and oceans where the inhabitants suffer from human irresponsibility, and he dreams of his future in the field of environmental protection. Our children are aware that they will have to live in this polluted environment left by their parents. So let’s think now, until it’s not too late, because our children and grandchildren deserve a happy life on this green planet!
Please tell us about your dietary experience. What are your eating habits? What does your son choose?
I have always thought about consuming quality and healthy food. People often say «You are what you eat,» and I fully agree with this. Eating habits are reflected in our health, so it is important to prioritize healthy food and lifestyles. The source of my body’s energy is important to me and I try to refrain from doing anything that could harm it. It helps to maintain the best possible quality of life because I cannot afford low quality in my life. I choose organic products in my diet and lately I have been paying special attention to the products that are best for me – the healthiest and the richest in nutrients. If you want to live a long, happy life with the right quality, you have to overcome your ego and take care of your body and health, not your gastronomic pleasures. Rūdolfs, on the other hand, has been fastidious since childhood, and he only wants to eat meals cooked from his favourite products. This is how the business idea started – thanks to my son Rūdolfs, who chose his mother’s best meal made of the best products. My son sees our nutritional philosophy and increasingly refuses to eat snacks, which are usually very popular with children, in favour of a healthier diet.
Why do you think that people in each country should primarily choose local products?
Pediatricians recommend the use of foods of the appropriate geographical area, especially for children, to avoid a variety of allergies and body reactions. Our body has historically adapted to our region’s environment and diet, so products that are atypical of the region and unfamiliar to the body can cause a response in the autoimmune system, causing a number of conditions that are sometimes difficult to diagnose. The same thing, but even worse, is when we eat junk food, because not everyone can eat everything, for example, some may have gluten or lactose intolerance. Worse still, we consume foods with preservatives, flavour enhancers and colourings or genetically modified foods. The best choice is to use locally sourced and organic products that are best suited to our body.
Do you also prefer environmentally friendly products in other areas, such as cosmetics and clothing?
I pay attention to quality because the market does not always offer the opportunity to buy products of the same quality and completely environmentally friendly. If possible, I try to buy environmentally friendly products for both domestic and personal use, and I am also considering purchasing an electric car in the future.
How do you create advertisements for your products? What is your sales trump?
Public interest in organic and quality food has increased in recent years. People are paying more attention to what they eat and choosing products more carefully. «Rūdolfs» BIO offers healthy products with natural flavours made exclusively from organically grown ingredients. Our goal is to make products that we use in our daily diet healthier, without adding artificial additives, preserving the natural value of the product and the organic ingredients. This is our main trump card – quality in terms of product composition, packaging and design, and communication with the consumer. The best advertising is good product reviews that people share with each other. We care about people’s health and quality of life, and many appreciate it.
How is Rūdolfs doing, what is he interested in, what are his hobbies? Maybe he’s already helping his mum?
Rūdolfs is currently in 4th grade and has grown with the company. Initially, he was inspired by the organic baby food line, but now he is keen on testing new products and helping out in a variety of small jobs at the plant. Rūdolfs represents a creative new generation with a different perspective on life and things; he is worried about global environmental change and pollution, and he is an active advocate of the environment and animals. At the same time, he also enjoys the discoveries of modern technology, and in his spare time he works diligently with drone-making, technology and drumming. Rūdolfs has enroled in Valdorfs pedagogical program and frequently asks questions that are difficult to answer. I look very hopefully at our young generation and I am sure it will bring great changes in the future.
How do you balance between work, leisure and family responsibilities? What are your hobbies, interests?
The main thing is to like what you do. Then there is a completely different feeling after doing the work, implementing the project or creating the product that is in demand. Satisfaction with good reviews and success is huge, so you can close your eyes after a busy day. You have to find time for yourself and your non-business interests, be able to restart and move on with new inspiration. I used to rest my mind during long walks along the sea with my family and both of our dogs, or while biking together, as well as on longer trips. Of course, I also have my own things that I love to do in my spare time, such as playing tennis, yoga, reading books, meditation practices and also learning valuable spiritual lessons, as long as good teachers are available. I’ll soon make another dream come true – I will start singing in a choir; This is something I have wanted for a long time. I don’t have a lot of free time, but with a lot of planning and prioritization I can do a lot.
Text by Ērika Šmeļkova
Lat Eko Food Ltd. are going to The World´s Leading Trade Fair for Organic Food in Nürnberg Messe from 13 to 16 February 2019.
Visit our stand!
Hall: 4A/ 4A-117
We welcome you to visit our stand at Food & Hotel Asia exhibition in Singapore on 24.04.-27.04.2018
Hall 5; Stand: 5J4-0
Lat Eko Food Ltd. are going to The world´s leading food fair Anuga in Cologne from 7 to 11 October 2017.
Visit our stand!
Stand: F 083g - F 089g