Costco calling: Czech trdelník, honey cakes land sweet deals in the US

Increased interest in two Czech-based companies' traditional treats will see Trdlokafe and Marlenka take a bite out of foreign markets. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 19.04.2024 11:43:00 (updated on 19.04.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Two Czech food brands are hungry for a taste of success abroad – Trdlokafe and Marlenka could soon hit shelves or stands in the U.S.

Trdlokafe, a franchise selling ice-cream-filled trdelník and iced coffee, with branches in eight countries, is celebrating 10 years on the market with further expansion to the West and the Middle East, founder Radek Klein said in an interview with Seznam Zprávy (SZ).

"Every year, we more than double in size. In 2022, we had approximately 70 stores, last year it was approximately 150, and this year we plan to expand the branch network to approximately 400," Klein told the publication.

This year, the entrepreneur plans to expand the Czech network of Trdlokafe stores into Spain, the Canary Islands, Dubai, and Qatar. A location in L.A. at Venice Beach could launch as early as next month.

Trdlokafe started in 2015 in Brno with a single branch in front of the Futurum shopping center. By the end of 2023, the network had grown to 156 stores in seven European countries and the United Arab Emirates and is still growing.

The company operates as a franchising network. Its turnover is expected to exceed CZK 1 billion this year.

Marlenka: Sweet deals with Walmart, Costco

Czech honey cake manufacturer Marlenka told SZ it is facing an overwhelming demand at home and abroad. The company’s international reach spans Korea and Germany. It has now secured deals with global giants like Costco and Walmart in the U.S. Seventy percent of its products are exported abroad.

With sales exceeding CZK 873 million and profits at CZK 250 million last year, the company is poised for expansion. Nshan Avetsijan, a spokesperson from the Marlenka family business, said that doing so will necessitate revamping the company’s historic Lemberger factory in Frýdek-Místek, where it will double production.

Neither Marlenka nor trdelník is traditionally Czech food: Marlenka honey cakes are based on an Armenian recipe brought to the country in 2003 by entrepreneur Gevorg Avetisjan and his sister, who named the cake in honor of their mother. The pastry is similar to the Czech Medovník, based on a Ukrainian recipe. The origins of trdelník are hotly debated; its first mention is in a 1784 cookbook written in a Hungarian-speaking region in Transylvania.

Due to the complicated technology that goes into making honey cakes, the company may also require additional facilities.

"We have really ambitious plans; in 10 or 20 years, we would like to be in the international field of perception where, for example, Ferrero and Mars and these companies are," said Avetsijan.

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