Who we are
The taste and flavour of the locally available fruits, berries and vegetables is outstanding – just like they used to be prior to the intensification of agriculture in the fifties.
The traditional method of preserving food for winter in Saschiz is known as cellaring, and despite having fridges and freezers, most households still use cellars for this purpose today. Mrs Schaaser, a Saxon neighbour, has provided a wealth of inspiration with her cellar and cooking and this has greatly helped us to understand the amazing taste and flavour of local ingredients. Her homemade tomato juice is legendary and a glass of this is always a highlight of any visit to her courtyard and cellar.
In Autumn Mrs Schaaser’s cellar is bursting with
produce stored for winter.
Completely by coincidence, but within days of the company being registered, we were approached by a food and drinks manufacturer seeking to source elderflower juice for further processing at their factory in the UK.
Our logo is an artistic impression of Salvia nutans, which is considered to be the most symbolic plant of the Târnava Mare area.
Our primary brand Pivniţa Bunicii - Grandma's cellar, pantry or larder - is based on the universal response we got to our products "Wow, it tastes just like my grandma used to make!" When visiting grandma she would retrieve food to serve at her table from the cellar, hence why our brand is Pivniţa Bunicii.
We have created a Taste Transylvania -experience and Shop next to our process facility in Saschiz, providing an opportunity for visitors to the area to enjoy the intense flavours of our artisan products and of course purchase some to take home. We also stock a selection of local crafts.
Our brand Taste Transylvania is also used to maximise the impact of our location and is specifically for promoting events outside Romania.
We continue to make preserves which are sold under the brand Pivniţa Bunicii and from the same fruits and berries we also make our own range of cordials.
We are innovative and use our skills and process equipment to develop new artisan products from abundantly available local fruit such as chutneys and sauces from plums, apples and quince.
Our shop is located in one cellar at our premises in Saschiz. This is probably the oldest part of the property, dating back to the mid 1850's when rebuilding in stone replaced the timber structures destroyed in the great fire of 1853 which devastated much of the town.
We use the second cellar to store products and to prepare orders for dispatch to customers.
The Food Development Company Ltd (FDC) and Transylvania Food Company (TFC)
In 2009, the Food Development Company Ltd (FDC) was registered in the UK with the aim of promoting socially responsible investment in small scale enterprises that have short supply chains, are commercially viable, ethical and sustainable - we call it impact investment.
We have put into practice what a small group of international development specialists have been writing about for decades on sustainable enterprise development i.e. we are neither a project nor a charity and instead promote transparency and accountability. Twenty three private investors have so far funded FDC in a mixture of loans and investment (debt and equity).
Transylvania Food Company Srl (TFC) was registered in Romania in 2010. It is wholly owned by FDC and is a social enterprise.
Our production is located in modern premises in Saschiz (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Careful design has ensured that our production facility blends with the architectural landscape on the outside while the use of modern materials provides thermal efficiency and a flexible food processing facility inside.
A key component of our business is the production of raw acacia blossom and elderflower juices, ingredients which are delivered in bulk for further processing in the UK by a food and soft drinks manufacturer. It is this aspect of our business that generates the greatest impact for the community.
Traditional skills are combined with modern production controls to ensure consistent, handmade products that are safe and healthy.
We are certified to the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety (Issue 7), Global Markets Programme.
- Creation of local employment: 11 permanent staff plus seasonal hires;
- Direct beneficiaries: Over 1,300 of the poorest local people (approximately 50% women and children) collect wild flowers and they are paid each day in cash per kg - for some their only source of income in the year. A few families also earn by collecting wild fruits for our jams and other cordials;
- Indirect beneficiaries: Other members of collectors family;
- Sub-contractors and suppliers: Transport companies, product packaging etc.;
- Community: Increase in money circulating in local shops;
- Other: Increase in trade for local hotels and restaurants - our activities and shop are bringing more visitors to the town.
Social & Ethical Impact
- Creating employment opportunities in local community;
- Provision of training and paying fair wages;
- Leading by example in compliance with labour laws, health and safety, food legislation, fiscal and business environment etc. leading to greater long term enterprise sustainability and increased impact on poverty reduction;
- Profit sharing scheme for staff and understanding that long term employment depends on success;
- Equity participation for management providing sense of ownership;
- Empowerment of community leaders through the creation of collection points for wild harvested produce;
- Treating the poorest and marginalised members of the community fairly and with respect.
- Sustainable wild harvesting promoted - based on annual environmental impact assessments;
- Local population are paid a fair price for collecting, providing a link to the value of conservation of their landscape and biodiversity;
- By-products from processing used for on-farm compost, returning nutrients to the soil and conserving soil moisture.