Dr. Jenny Müller of Die Frischemanufaktur tells us about offering to product line fresh-cut fruit and infused water.
Photo by Sapna Richter
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Jenny Müller: From a health point of view, we are luckily all doing really good. Still, we miss traveling, seeing many friends, and going to restaurants.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Die Frischemanufaktur.
Dr. Jenny Müller: I was raised in beautiful Munich and studied management. After that, I did a Ph.D. in Marketing in Leipzig, where I really loved it. Then I started working for a big supermarket chain, which was a great experience. The only shocking thing to me was the reality of food waste in fresh produce. Not in general, but especially in ultra-fresh products like wraps, fresh salads to go, fresh-cut fruit. 30% of food waste a normal in this segment due to very short shelf life and hard to predict sales. That’s where I wanted to change the game. We extent the shelf life of fresh-cut fruit and infused water by up to 9 times. Currently, we offer to product lines fresh-cut fruit and infused water and keep working on other products.
How does Die Frischemanufaktur innovate?
Dr. Jenny Müller: The unique freshness technologies separately developed for each product line keep all products fresh up to 9 times longer than competitive products, thus reducing food waste. Our technology is based on natural principles like adding Vitamin C, modified atmosphere packing, or (high pressure) pasteurization. We already have one patent for a mechanical way to prolong shelf life through packaging. At the moment, we are filing a second patent for a production process. Through the longer shelf life of our products, food waste in retail and at home can be widely reduced. Furthermore, we do not add any forms of additives to keep our water totally clean, healthy, and delicious.
Next to our longer shelf life, which is the underlying philosophy in all our products are packaged in a sustainable way.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Dr. Jenny Müller: At first, it was shocking: people shifted their buying patterns away from To go products, and buyers stopped all our listings that were on their way.
So we decided to distribute a Startup-Food-Bundle online. It was a really nice cooperation and helped us to make up for lost sales and keep us busy. We cut videos with funders of the other Startups like 3Bears, The Duke Gin, SWARM, etc., and created a big buzz on social media. It was also picked up by the press and was really fun. Our goal was to bring new experiences to the taste buds of our customers in Lock-Down.
By now, the buying behavior is not totally back to normal, but much better, and also, the buyers are out of their shock-freeze. So we keep on growing nicely.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Jenny Müller: The whole team decided together to go into 30% Kurzarbeit for some weeks, but we got quickly back to normal work.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Dr. Jenny Müller: To our end consumers, we definitely created a closer bond. Especially as we started offering online-tastings in the second Lock-down. This really helped to get deep insights into our customers’ motivations, tastes, and life style. Talking to them and getting to know them was really a great experience and much fun.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Dr. Jenny Müller: So far, we received the short-term Corona-Hilfe and Kurzarbeitergeld, which were both very helpful. We are still waiting to be able to apply for Corona-Startup-Hilfe Säule II, as in Sachsen-Anhalt, this is still not possible. But we managed to raise a funding round last year, so we are doing good and working hard towards our break-even.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Jenny Müller: Corona definitely is definitely tough for all. Even if your health is not affected, it’s a strain on personal life and on all businesses. But for us, it was proof that we work very well together as a team. We stand together and find the best solutions in every situation!