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Challenges and triumphs in Serbia’s apple industry

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Apple cultivation in Serbia covers more than 25,000 hectares. According to experts, during the middle productive years, around 400,000 tons are produced, with yields reaching over 15 tons per hectare. For domestic needs, about 220,000 tons of apples are sufficient.

Serbia currently exports the majority of its apples to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. In August and September of the previous year alone, 1,500 tons of apples were exported to India, and the export to the Middle East was seven times larger than to the Russian Federation, which had been the primary export market for fruit growers for years. Zlatko Jovanović, an agriculture and food industry expert from the project “Velika mala privreda” (USAID), stated in an interview with that the export of agricultural products last year was €200 million lower than in 2022, with the fruit sector being the most affected.

“After several years of growth, in 2023, the export of fruits and vegetables from Serbia was almost €100 million less than in 2022. The main causes of the decline are reduced exports to the Russian market, inflation affecting all chains, and a general decrease in consumption in major markets,” explained Jovanović.

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He cited the example of the apple sector, where prices remained on average the same, but due to lower quantities, exports dropped from over €100 million in 2022 to around €80 million last year, resulting in a loss of €20 million for Serbia in that sector alone.

According to the CompanyWall credit rating agency, there are 275 companies engaged in the cultivation of pome and stone fruits in Serbia.

The most successful company, in terms of profit in 2022, in this sector was Zlatni Plod SP d.o.o from Sinošević. This young company started operating in 2019 and achieved success in a relatively short time, turning from a loss of 757,000 dinars in 2020 to a profit of 659,000 dinars in 2021. With a business result of 187,589,000 dinars in 2022, this company ranked first on the list of the most successful fruit production companies.

In second place among the most successful is Frueko d.o.o from Novi Sad. The company claims to have a business tradition of more than 35 years in fruit growing and viticulture. A turning point for Frueko occurred in 2006 when a pear and walnut orchard was planted in Šid. In the same year, a ULO cold storage with a capacity of 3,000 tons was built.

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Regarding business success, it hasn’t changed much in the last three years for Frueko. The company’s profit was 101,221,000 dinars in 2020, 110,980,000 dinars in 2021, and it reached the second place on the CompanyWall list with a result of 110.2 million dinars in 2022.

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