Pokica brings a pop of colour to popcorn
Six years ago a small Maribor-based family-run business Kokica brought the first gourmet popcorn to the Slovenian market. The popcorn in vibrant colours under the trademark Pokica now fills the shelves of Slovenian and Swiss stores, with plans to expand to Germany and one day to the US.
The company's founder Uroš Požgan has loved popcorn since he was a child but it took a trip to the US for him to recognise its potential.
"After touring the US for nearly two months I realised that popcorn can be prepared in different colours and flavours. That gave me the idea to upgrade this snack with top quality ingredients and to pop the corn without oil, using only hot air. And that is how the Pokica popcorn was born," Požgan told the STA.
Pokica popcorn uses kernels of the non-genetically modified "mushroom" corn that create big and round popcorn pieces when popped.
The popcorn is then covered in hand-made toppings for different sweet and savoury flavours. While the most unusual flavour they have developed is spicy mango, the most popular flavour is a combination of white and dark chocolate.
"It is a flavour that customers have accepted as an alternative to chocolate, since it tastes identically to best-selling chocolate bars. The popcorn inside the chocolate coating ensures that we can enjoy the snack without feeling guilty."
Every year Pokica pops some 40 million corn kernels that make for more than 250,000 Pokica products.
In Slovenia Pokica gained traction in 2017 after it was showcased in a start-up promotion project Štartaj Slovenija. The company outgrew the home garage and moved production to a manufacturing unit in Maribor, where they currently employ six people.
Pokica popcorn is available in various supermarkets and has an online store.
It is sold at some 300 sales points in Switzerland. The company is about to launch in Germany, expecting to reach around 1,000 sales points.
Currently Pokica exports 37% of its products. "We want to slowly conquer country after country with the goal to take Pokica popcorn all the way to the US," Požgan said. In 2022 the company recorded €330,000 in revenue.
Since its early days the company is striving to make Pokica an environmentally friendly snack, in part by not using palm or other oils and in part with their new recycled tube-like packaging.
"In the last three years we have successfully developed unique packaging. It is made from recycled plastic and it allows us to ship 2000 units on one pallet, compared to 700 bags we were previously able to ship," Požgan said, adding that this reduced their transport-related carbon footprint by two thirds.
In 2021 Pokica earned the certificate IFS Food 7, an internationally recognised standard for food manufacturers that prioritises food safety and quality of processes and products. Last year the company received the German Climate Neutral certificate. This year they were invited to an English competition, Great Taste Awards, that will take place in the second half of the year.
The company buys the corn from France but they have started producing some as well and have already had two successful harvests. "We still have to perfect the drying process as it is crucial to insure the exact level of moisture in the centre of the kernel so it pops into a round shape," Požgan said. The company also hopes to fully automate the packaging process in the future.