Michael Schara:"Customer concerns are a good breeding ground of innovative ideas"

Interview with Michael Schara, General Manager of Schara (the German butcher shops)

Schara makes sausages and cold meats for customers mainly in the supermarket sector. For the past three years it has also had a store at the Boqueria Market in Barcelona.

Q- In which aspects do you innovate?
A- We innovate in products, formats and qualities – in other words, wherever we can provide added value to consumers. This also forces us to innovate internally, in processes, technologies and food safety.

Q- Could you talk us through some of your specific innovations...
A- We set the sector benchmark by introducing individual formats (of 1 or 2 units) targeted at new family models. Now we have also decided to make products with a number of fairly uncommon features, such as the fact they are completely free of additives, thickeners, gluten or lactose, because we know there is a market segment which demands these types of products.

Q- Where do you get your innovative ideas from?
A- We have two breeding grounds. One is based on the requirements of our major distribution customers, and the other has emerged from the concerns we detect among consumers. In this case, our stand at the Boqueria market has become a showcase that we use to get feedback from our customers and their thoughts on what they would like to see.

Q- What has this commitment to innovation brought you?
A- It sets us apart from the competition and confirms our position from the standpoint of the customers, who are very demanding and expect us to deliver a high level of quality.

Q- In your experience, what should an innovative company have?
A- Innovating is an attitude. In our case, having the intention of continually improving and doing things differently is part of our business philosophy. If you don’t do this you get to the table too late, because society is changing constantly. Also, to make it work, you need to have your entire team on-board with the idea and the mindset it requires.