Boerewors Venture a Family Affair
Article by SANZ
We’ve seen this family’s South African meat products (Branco’s) on almost every supermarket shelf on the North Island, but their success is not surprising when you hear Bramax Limited’s remarkable story of faith, life on the road, good food and sound business sense.
Branco’s boerewors, biltong and other delicacies - watch out for their Heart Foundation - approved lite boerewors - have possibly done more for the acceptance of South African food in New Zealand than any other brand - a good reason for CONNECTIONS to catch up with one of the people behind Bramax Limited, Max Poznanovich.
Max’s parents, Branko and Juanita Poznanovich, came to New Zealand in 1995 to be with family who had lived in New Zealand for more than 10 years at that stage. As with many migrants, they left much behind to start life here, with significantly diminished capital, and with age against them - Branko was 70 years old.
“After living on capital for a short while, my father Branko got a part-time job in a warehouse packing goods. While doing this and orientating himself with New Zealand he noticed an absence of boerewors in the general food marketplace. Having 35 years butchery experience, Branko purchased a small sausage filler and began making Boerewors for acquaintances and associates, from home. After a short while Branko purchased a baby drying chamber and began making Biltong, too.”
Max says this continued at a steady rate until one day a supermarket called him and mentioned that a customer had told them about ‘Branko’s’ boerewors, and asked him to supply some to them. It was time to move to proper premises, but this he could not afford, nor did the volume sold warrant it. Branko began making his boerewors and biltong at an established meat processor where he had been buying his meat. This butchery also started stocking Branko’s products.
Other supermarkets got to hear about Branko’s boerewors and soon he was supplying five supermarkets. This was keeping the 70 year old quite busy, and at this point he mentioned to his son, Max, that he would need some help to further develop the business. Max was a ‘Project Analyst’ for one of New Zealand’s banking institutions.
“Being quite sceptical of the future of the boerewors business, I spoke to some friends in the business sector and bounced the idea off them. Convinced, I traded my suit for butchers’ whites and joined dad in the business in September 1999.”
Max brought his analyst skills into the business, which helped streamline production and formalise the organisation.
Both Branko and Max realised that if the turnover was to grow quickly over a short time they would have to tap the Kiwi market as well as the South African market. In order to do this, they would have to get the general Kiwi public to taste the sausage, and understand the quality difference between boerewors type sausages and regular Kiwi type sausages.
“I went on the road with a demonstration table, electric frying pan and other odds and ends to make this thing work. First I had to figure out how to get all the demo stuff into a two door car!” laughs Max. Then it was two day demos, Fridays and Saturdays in a different store every week or two, somewhere around the North Island.
“Besides building a business, I can also now tell people which ‘backpackers’ to avoid.
“My first demo was most challenging. Kiwi culture is generally less confrontational than South African, so to stand in a store and offer a foreign product that takes some effort to pronounce correctly and at a price one-third higher than a ‘normal’ sausage was interesting.
“But it all came together and it was very encouraging to hear such favourable feedback. Of course, it isn’t to everyone’s taste, and some people even spat it out, but there you go, every person is unique, tastes included.
“At first I took it personally, but for every one that didn’t like it, at least 10 others found it irresistible and bought some.”
One year later Bramax Limited, as the company became known was supplying “Branco’s” boerewors, garlic boerewors and chorizo (mild Mexican) fresh sausages to 25 supermarkets in the top half of the North Island. This figure has since doubled, now reaching down to Wellington. The range now includes an authentic Italian pork sausage, which is very popular.
”It is really a great compliment to us that our boerewors’ is so highly valued that customers in supermarkets will pay up to $12-99 per kg for it. Market trends toward a healthier, low-fat diet has seen Bramax develop New Zealand’s first supermarket sausage with the National Heart Foundation’s Heart Tick approval.
“Being Christians we have no doubt that God has blessed us and our business tremendously and we give all credit to Him,” says Max.
The new “Boerewors Lite” has less fat than Branco’s regular boerewors and is available in stores in the first week of February.
”Our recipe for success has been quite simple. Make a consistent product, market it to a target audience relentlessly and provide uninterrupted service. The fact that I have staff away sick, or am short of meat or had delivery issues is not the client’s concern. Always make sure that you set client expectations and meet them consistently.”
’Branco’s’ gourmet sausages are available in the butchery department of most supermarkets in the North Island or you can visit them directly at Unit E, 134 Marua Road Ellerslie, Auckland, for wholesale prices.
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