The Pâtisserie des Flandres is a family business near Lille, that specializes in waffles and has revenues of €5 million, 20% of which comes from exports. Joint interview with its Managing Director, Benoit Rousseau and Stéphanie Potdevin, Export Manager.
How are you positioned in France and internationally? Have you developed specific products intended for export?
Benoit Rousseau: Yes. Our business has been in existence since 1997 and it was in 2014 that we decided to create an export department in order to track our export business. In the French market, we are essentially regional operators, while at the national level we operate via distributor brands. Traditional sweet waffles sell very well in Northern France, less so abroad. This observation convinced us of the need to innovate and to move into the savory products sector. We created small PDO cheese cocktail crackers (comté, maroilles). For the US market we created a larger cracker product, with salt, pepper and herbs. It is this the product that allowed us to penetrate the US market, as it is more in line with consumer habits.
What is your strategy for developing your export markets?
Stéphanie Potdevin: We are developing significantly through trade shows and collaborating closely with Business France on the Pavillons France under the Taste France brand, all of which are truly emblematic. All buyers around the world go to the Pavillon France! Our gastronomy is renowned the world over and attracts a lot of attention, so it is very important for us to be on the Pavillon France, it offers us a great deal of visibility. At the same time we carry out targeted initiatives with Team France export. At the moment, we are focusing on the Middle East which is our priority target and we attend the Gulfood show in Dubai for the first time. It is also because of them that we have been operating in the Japanese market since 2020. In the middle of the Covid crisis, the Business France teams suggested that we meet local buyers via videoconference, which turned out to be a success.
How important is innovation for Pâtisserie des Flandres?
Benoit Rousseau: Innovating is in our DNA. In 2020 at the SIAL we offered a bite-sized cocktail waffle filled with Maroilles PDO and received two awards, the silver medal and the special SIAL Innovation “fresh products”award. More than six months of studies and research in collaboration with the Adrianor (regional agri-food technical center) were required to create this innovative recipe and this is really satisfying, as these awards allow us to boost our sales and also to energize our teams who see the rewards of their work.