Perla Harghitei and Apemin Tuşnad : Sustainably Quenching Romania’s Thirst

Poppi BurkeLucy Pilgrim
Poppi Burke - Project Manager Lucy Pilgrim - Deputy Head of Editorial
At A Glance
  • Perla Harghitei offers water in both still and sparkling varieties, bottled at its facility in Sâncrăieni, situated at the foothills of the Harghita Mountains.
  • Apemin Tușnad, Perla Harghitei’s sister company that includes the Tușnad, Artesia, and Izvorul Ascuns brands, captures water from the natural volcanic area in the lower Ciuc basin.
  • The companies have an ambitious master plan for the next five years, investing approximately €48 million in new technology and production lines as well as modern warehouses, water treatment stations, and digital systems.
  • “Thanks to nature, our products are filled with the essential minerals necessary for the improved physical and mental well-being of all consumer categories,” says Mihai Neagu, CEO, Perla Harghitei and Apemin Tușnad.

Responsibly sourcing mineral water with care, Perla Harghitei and Apemin Tușnad are investing heavily in new technology and sustainable practices. CEO, Mihai Neagu, tells us how the two companies have maintained their position as the most modern natural mineral water businesses in Romania.

SUSTAINABLY QUENCHING ROMANIA’S THIRST

For thousands of years, clean, fresh water has been the main source of life for the Earth’s flora and fauna.  

Today, amidst the ramifications of global warming and the consequential rise of renewable energies and products, natural and readily available water for both the environment and humans is more important than ever. 

In Romania, the Eastern Carpathian Mountains possess abundant reserves of natural mineral water, suitable for quenching the thirst of millions across the country. 

The group of companies, Perla Harghitei and Apemin Tuşnad (PH-AT), make the most of this valuable resource, with respect, care, and consideration for its future generational legacy. 

Perla Harghitei (Perla), has become the leading provider of glistening natural mineral water in returnable glass bottles, closely followed by Tiva Harghita. 

The company offers water in both still and sparkling varieties, bottled at its facility in Sâncrăieni, situated at the foothills of the Harghita Mountains – an outstanding natural area with some of the largest reserves of mineral water in Europe.  

Meanwhile, Apemin Tușnad, Perla Harghitei’s sister company that includes the Tușnad, Artesia, and Izvorul Ascuns brands, captures water from the natural volcanic area in the lower Ciuc basin. 

“The mineral salts found in our natural water comprise calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and bicarbonates. As such, our product is rich in essential minerals that are great for the hydration, health, and well-being of the body,” introduces Mihai Neagu, CEO. 

PH-AT’s brands are heavily present in the national beverage industry, being featured across all distribution channels, including both modern and traditional trade, as well as on-premises in hotel, restaurant, and catering (HoReCa) areas, and away-from-home businesses. 

“We are nurturing a culture of honesty and respect with all our consumers, partners, and suppliers. We hold the best quality standards in all we do,” he adds.

CARING FOR EVERY DROP

Operating in such a long-standing industry means that PH-AT is well-positioned to witness the substantial growth and evolution of the natural water market.   

Most noticeable is the pace of new technology, which has greatly influenced the speed of the two businesses.  

Furthermore, Neagu believes that in the realm of corporate responsibility and environmentalism, companies must be able to hold themselves accountable in front of their customers. 

“Sustainability is a major challenge that didn’t even exist as an agenda-setting factor a decade ago. Therefore, consumer behaviour has changed in terms of how perception is built towards a brand and how the product is delivered in a rapidly growing gig economy,” he says.  

Furthermore, both consumers and businesses are affected by various socioeconomic disturbances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, record inflation, and conflict in neighbouring countries.  

Nevertheless, PH-AT is working hard to overcome these challenges as some of the most dynamic and modern natural mineral water bottling companies in Romania.  

This has been achieved by streamlining activities and significantly investing in technology that helps the businesses use resources more sustainably and take the utmost care with their water.  

For example, PH-AT’s plants in Sâncrăieni and Tușnadu Nou operate with the most up-to-date technology in the industry, which reduces losses and facilitates the use of cutting-edge equipment for capturing and bottling natural mineral water.  

“In a very fragmented and competitive category, ensure high-quality standards in all our activities and offer the best natural hydration options for our consumers.  

“Thanks to nature, our products are filled with the essential minerals necessary for the improved physical and mental well-being of all consumer categories,” highlights Neagu.

“Thanks to nature, our products are filled with the essential minerals necessary for the improved physical and mental well-being of all consumer categories”

Mihai Neagu, CEO, Perla Harghitei and Apemin Tușnad

SUSTAINABLY STRATEGIC INVESTMENT

In order to maintain its enviable position in the industry, PH-AT has an ambitious master plan for the next five years, investing approximately €48 million in new technology and production lines as well as introducing modern warehouses, water treatment stations, and digital systems.  

“We will invest as much as it takes to get the best out of our natural resources, people, and operational processes. Our plan for the years to come is to keep up with the financial pace that we set last year. Accordingly, we estimate that we will have invested €9.3 million by the end of 2024,” informs Neagu. 

In the short term, the companies will start operating their new innovative water treatment station and warehouses and wish to complete the integration of their operational and commercial digitisation tools.  

Additionally, both businesses are boosting the dynamics of their social and environmental responsibility projects, whilst strengthening their market position based on a consumer-centric communication strategy. 

“Our biggest challenge is to grow our returnable glass segment, which is one of our most sustainable but difficult projects since it involves changing consumer behaviour in a complex logistical chain,” admits Neagu. 

However, each company’s management is determined to succeed as it is aware of the importance of a circular economy in its sustainability journey. 

Alongside its environmental footprint, PH-AT also continues to maintain good relationships with partners and suppliers, bolstered by the unmatched product output and plant location in Transylvania. 

Both businesses work with some of the best suppliers in Europe for their production lines and raw materials, maintaining close partnerships with big players in the logistics chain to ensure their products are delivered to customers in the best condition. 

“Our aim is to increase our consumer base in every corner of not only Romania but other strategic markets as well. Currently, our brands can also be found in the US, Canada, and other European countries,” he sets out.  

A HOME-GROWN CULTURE

With over 450 experienced members of staff, PH-AT encourages a people-oriented culture as the businesses and their teams have grown together.  

PH-AT also empowers its employees through their work with an organisational programme that recognises their contributions. 

Meanwhile, the management team consists of hard-working professionals with valuable backgrounds in the global beverage industry, as well as excellent knowledge of the business, sector, and regions where its plants and core consumers are located. 

Many of the companies’ employees have been with the business for decades, making their insights and experience priceless. 

“The main advantage I can draw from this is that together, we make a powerful team built around common values, as people feel at home working here,” emphasises Neagu. 

PH-AT is currently focusing on attracting new, valuable talent who will be a good fit and are passionate about their roles, ensuring the highest engagement levels for years to come. 

Continuing on their upward trajectory, the two companies are cultivating themselves around their staff. 

“People are my key priority. The rest will follow, including well-loved brands, a larger market share, happy customers, productivity, and caring for the environment,” concludes Neagu.

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By Poppi Burke Project Manager
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Poppi Burke sources the collaborations with business leaders, brands, and C-suite executives that feature in Food & Beverage Outlook Magazine. Poppi is actively seeking collaborations for future editions.
By Lucy Pilgrim Deputy Head of Editorial
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Lucy Pilgrim is an in-house writer for Food & Beverage Outlook Magazine, where she is responsible for interviewing corporate executives and crafting original features for the magazine, corporate brochures, and the digital platform.