Who we are

Our Story
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.
Pivnita Bunicii
In Autumn Mrs Schaaser’s cellar is bursting with 
produce stored for winter.
 
Our involvement in Saschiz goes back to 2006 when we started making preserves, but the global financial crisis focused our need to be commercial and sustainable but at the same time generate economic benefit for the community. For this reason, Saschiz seemed the logical location to establish the Transylvania Food Company, a process completed in early 2010.

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.


Our Products

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.

Our savoury preserves bring together traditional Saxon recipes, our knowledge of spices from around the world together with some artisan innovation in the  use  of  local ingredients, to produce combinations that initially were dismissed locally as too extreme (who would  combine plums with garlic and chilli!!!) but are now much enjoyed throughout Romania and beyond. 

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 Cellars

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.

Seasonal Working
 
Our season starts with a burst of intense activity when we harvest and process acacia blossom and elderflower in May and June (having spent much of March and April getting ready). For the rest of the year we make artisan jams and cordials. We make these products in small batches to maintain the flavour but also because the best quality fruits and berries are only available for relatively short periods and the quantity available is very weather dependant with different fruits and berries becoming available every two or three weeks from June to October.
 
Innovative Traditional Recipes
 
Our recipes are based on tradition but developed and improved to provide consistent quality and high standards of food safety. A traditional product is only a successful innovation from the past, and we pride ourselves on being both innovative and artisanal in our approach to product development. For example, Saschiz is famous for rhubarb jam and in 2013 we introduced two innovative variations: rhubarb and ginger and rhubarb and vanilla, bringing together grandmothers’ recipes from Romania and UK!
 
Marmalade and Chutneys
 
Until the 1950’s the UK exported marmalade made with citrus fruit throughout Eastern Europe and consumption is once again rising, except this time it is being produced in Eastern Europe. We have introduced two delicious marmalade: Lemon and Pink Grapefruit.
 
Taking advantage of the abundant harvests of plums, apples and quince we have developed a range of delectable chutney and sauces.
 
Cordials
 
We are contracted to supply elderflower juice to Bottlegreen for further processing in the UK and this raised local interest in the finished products, which we now import and distribute in Romania.
 
We also make a range of cordials from wild fruits and berries , the same ones we collect for jam. These are made in small batches and bottled at our premises in Saschiz.

Honey
 
We consider honey to be one of the most symbolic products of the local landscape and certainly the taste and flavour is much appreciated by visitors to the area. The countryside is pure and clean with an abundance of wild flowers and plants.
 
 
"This clip was produced by Rob Streeter in 2011”
 
The different plants and flowers produce very different and distinctive flavours. We buy our honey from a single father-and-son bee-keeper-duo and bottle it at our premises in Saschiz.
 


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.

Economic Impact

  • 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.


Environmental Impact

  • 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.