What counts is exclusivity: how the Bernese company, Jumi AG, markets its local produce.
Two young Bernese men, Mike Glauser and Jürg Wyss, have proven themselves to be pioneers in the Swiss food industry. Since founding their company, Jumi, in 2005, they have demonstrated that it is possible to position innovative, artisan food products in the premium segment of the market. Their meat and cheese products, drawn from around 30 farmers from all over the country, are considered an insider tip by discerning gourmets.
The most surprising aspect of this is the fact that Glauser and Wyss set up their distribution network themselves.
They distribute their speciality foodstuffs exclusively through local weekly markets, village stores and delicatessens, as well as supplying fine restaurants and hotels in Switzerland and abroad. They have avoided the multiplication effect by deliberately not going through wholesalers or chain stores.
However, their chosen approach of taking one step at a time required the founders of the company to invest a lot of time and effort - particularly in the beginning - in order to convince the market. It paid off – once the umbrella brand Jumi and the various product brands were established among consumers, they were able to realise the dream of every brand manager - Jumi gained an aura of exclusivity, making it attractive to the retail vendor with the brand promoting itself.
“Brands play a key role in a market where over-production and price pressures prevail” says Mike Glauser, who registered his first word trade mark, the “Belper Knolle” (meaning the “tuber from the village of Belp”), shortly after the founding of his company. It refers to a product based on dried cream cheese encased in a layer of a pepper and Himalayan salt.
In the meantime, Jumi’s IP portfolio covers seventeen registered trade marks. The term “Belper Knolle” is also protected in the EU and in the USA, as is the case with the company name too. This is a necessary precaution as one quarter of Jumi’s production goes to foreign customers.
In the past year alone, the founders of Jumi have expanded their team from 15 to 20 people. Also part of “the family” is a good two dozen farms from the pre-alpine and Jura regions, who are building their livelihoods around the Jumi brand.
If Mike Glauser suspects that someone is infringing one of his registered trade marks, he reaches for the telephone. Threats of lawyers or court proceedings are not his style. However, passive acceptance of free riding is also not acceptable. “Without efficient protection of our intellectual property,” says the 29 year-old entrepreneur, “I would not be taking my responsibilities seriously”.