Vladan Matic, Executive Director of Kamenitza AD, of why excellent beer is our best friend in turbulent times
Mr. Matic, as a leader of a big employer and producer in Bulgaria, what are the lessons that you learnt in the past few months?
People always come first. Strong and reliable teams are seen through tough periods. Agility is the new normal. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but the new reality requires a completely new way of thinking and working. Our utmost focus was and still is to ensure the safety and health of our people, providing protective tools and opportunity to work from home. At the same time, we tried to help our partners with donations of more than 10,000 protective masks. What is more, we launched the Staropramen Responsibility Campaign where we gifted 15,000 liters of Staropramen to about 300 POCs across the country to help them re-open after the crisis. I am extremely grateful to the leadership team, the crisis management team and all Kamenitza colleagues for their responsibility, commitment and relentless efforts to keep the business running. Surprisingly, the first six months in the company turned out totally different than planned. Nevertheless, this period showed me a team I have always wanted to be a part of.
What do traditions mean at Kamenitza?
The beer sector is always changing and requiring more, we cannot realize how much this develops us and the business. It is something I really love about my job. The constant change has sparked brewers' creativity and entrepreneurial spirit for centuries. The innovations back in the days have turned into traditions today. Traditions at Kamenitza are this constant learning that we apply in our everyday work, the inherent ingredient of our products, the cultural value our people live with. Traditions are part of our past, present and future.
How do you see the development of the beer trends on the Bulgarian market in the next few years?
The world trends inevitably impact consumers' preferences – looking for new products and tastes, for healthier choices. We continue to observe the demand for more low and non-alcohol products, the rise of craft breweries and love for local tastes. They start to shape, in a niche, but still strong way, a new beer culture that appreciates the beer itself as much more than just a social drink, as an experience, a journey of tastes, imagination, creativity and discovery. I believe this is very positive for the beer industry, it provides more variety to the consumers and it challenges us, the brewers, to experiment and create novel products.
What is happening with the microbrewery in Plovdiv? How do the beers that we can taste there stand out?
Pivovarnitza is our beer temple. The last few months were not easy, but our enthusiastic team managed to organize the social initiative #WarmKitchen – cooking food and delivering it to people in need, while the restaurant was closed. We united a few businesses, partnered with the Red Cross and Plovdiv Municipality, all stood together and lent a hand to those that needed it the most.
Currently, Pivovarnitza is up and running, complying strictly with all safety measures. It offers 5 year-round beer proposals, distinctive and memorable in taste, well-known beer styles, but each with a pinch of Bulgarian taste like the Weiss beer with savory. Our new summer beer is red IPA. All beer lovers who want to take beer for home can now do so.
What is your favorite Kamenitza brand? Why?
I love strong and distinctive beer flavors. A big favorite is Kamenitza, especially good with pork ribs. If you combine it with quality time with friends and family, the picture is completed. After all, beer is one of life's simple pleasures and this fits perfectly with our mission to unite people to celebrate all life moments.