Every year, the Burg pizza plant receives around 30 certificates from the DLG in recognition of the long-standing quality of its products. The year 2014 was no exception, as 36 accolades were bestowed on the company for a diverse range of savory baked goods. The once small company that started in the village of Gerwisch has made a name for itself.
Could either one of the company’s partners Andreas Czayka and Partner Holger have imagined in the previous decade reaching the current benchmark? That will have to remain their secret. In any case, the first steps and the preparations at that time were both daring and resolute. In Gerwisch, Hasa was launched in the home of Andreas Czayka in only two rooms that resembled an office (more than a kitchen). With modest, efficiency-size experimental ovens, the two partners began with a small team of employees to explore how a future operation might look and what kinds of pizza could be baked on an assembly line. Their vision and motto: “To produce a stone-oven pizza that tastes like it came from the local pizzeria.”
For the company headquarters, they found several hectares in the Burg industrial park that were within close reach of the B 246 motorway. The baking operation could finally commence in 2006. They started out in a lean new building that was expanded shortly thereafter. This was followed up a few years ago with an immense warehouse. The number of employees grew in step over the years. First there were five; now there are 170.
A walk through the entryway of the office building shows that the partners’ dreams and aspirations from the middle of the previous decade have likely come to fruition. The wall of the staircase is generously decorated with certificates.
The idea of having the products of the company assessed each year, according to Czayka, is purely voluntary. The Hasa management duo agreed eight years ago to have their pizzas assessed by the DLG testing center. “With the DLG seal, we want to demonstrate to our consumers that we constantly strive to ensure product quality from start to finish,” explains Czayka. In his view, this was also essential given that the variety of frozen pizzas from Burg was constantly growing. Currently, 170 pizza varieties are offered, and approximately 80 million units leave the plant each year. Holger Pitsch, however, emphasizes that they have by no means reached the end of their capacity: “The total capacity of our facilities is about 120 million pizzas annually.”
Just how is the DLG test conducted? The manufacturers are themselves not allowed to be present. “We send about 30 different pizzas to Frankfurt am Main, where the corporate headquarters is located. The 30-member jury is comprised of experts and average consumers,” Czayka says, outlining the review process. Together, they first evaluate the packaging and what it says. When trying the food samples, they see if they can taste whether the indicated ingredients are also actually in the pizza that was provided. Then, the delivered products are placed in plain packaging, completely baked and merely assigned a neutral number. In order to carry out an assessment, the testers are interested, among other things, in the pizza’s appearance, flavor, as well as its odor.
So far, the elaborate process has paid off for Hasa. The managing parter asserts confidentally: “At the risk of sounding immodest, I can say that our frozen pizzas are the best in our retail partners’ freezers.” Pizzas are manufactured under a private label, but also as store brands for several market chains. These include Red-Netto, Edeka, Kaufland, and Penny. In addition, Hasa has exported to other countries for many years, although, as Andreas Czayka further explains, export shipments only account for 8% of yearly production.
Among the customers’ countries are Latvia, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and also Chile. It is foreseeable that the number of countries will be expanded in 2014. In May, Hasa GmbH will participate in the international PLMA tradeshow “The World of Private Label” in Amsterdam. We anticipate that this will open the door to further consumers. With only two-thirds of the company’s annual capacity having been exhausted so far, this would be a welcome development.
By Bernd Körner