Serbia, The food industry is mostly in our hands

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Bread, milk, meat, flour, oil, sugar…we need them most often. When we shop, we look at price, quality, and brand.

We know that we have wheat, corn, soybeans, sunflowers… for our own needs and for export, so we don’t pay attention to who owns the factories where the basic foodstuffs are produced… In the current and upcoming crisis, neither it is not unimportant.

We cultivate a little over 3.4 million hectares of fields, and we could do more because we have 4.1 million hectares of cultivated land, so agriculture is our greatest potential.

The domestic food industry is a foreign competitor because we have quality products, which we sell on foreign markets, so last year, Serbia achieved an income of 4.2 billion euros from agricultural and food products.

Our daily bread

We make our basic food, bread, from domestic wheat because we sow it on 630,000 hectares, and we could do it on half the area – 300,000 and still have enough for bakery and milling production. Admittedly, we also import bread because in large retail chains we can come across imported bread mixed with special types of flour.

The largest in the milling and baking industry are the domestic company AS “Braća Stanković” and the Slovenian “Don Don”. They mainly knead bread, pastries and frozen dough, have large wheat storage mills, industrial production facilities and bakeries.

On the domestic market, there are 20 to 30 larger local industrial mills and about a hundred plants with small capacities.

We also have large processing facilities, owned by domestic and foreign entrepreneurs.

Currently, sugar beet planted on 30,000 hectares is harvested, which is significantly less than last year or three years ago, but enough to meet domestic needs and still be sold for export.

We have four sugar mills and two beet processing companies.

The domestic “Sunoko”, part of the MK group, produces sugar from industrial plants in factories in Vrbas, Kovačica and Pećinci, and the Greek company “Helenik šugar” which works with beets only in the sugar factory in Crvenka, while it has been keeping the sugar factory in Žablje under lock and key for several years.

In terms of sugar beet processing, we are unique in the area because there are no sugar factories in our immediate or wider surroundings.

We sow sunflower every year, from 220,000 hectares upwards, two or three years ago the sowing reached the historical maximum – 250,000 hectares. We have several oil mills managed by domestic and foreign employers. Two factories are owned by our companies, “Invej” is the owner of “Vital” in Vrbas, and “Mirotin Group” is the owner of the “Banat” oil mill in Nova Crnja, whose trademark is “Cvet Banata”.

The Croatian company “Fortenova Group” owns the factory “Diamant” in Zrenjanin.

We buy Suncoret oil in Šid from the Moldavian company “Trans oli Group”, which is the owner of the oil factory known by the “Iskon” brand. There is also the “Sunce” oil factory in Sombor, which is managed by “Bimal” from Brčko.

Dairy farmers and processors together in the market

Regarding the dairy crisis, Branislav Gulan, an agrarian analyst from Novi Sad, believes that the problems can be overcome by involving livestock farmers in co-ownership of dairies, as is the practice in Denmark and the Netherlands.

– In our country, complex issues related to the prices of raw milk, the relationship between producers, processors and the state, and the opinion of the association of milk producers that the state’s incentive “flows into other people’s yeps” have been raised. It is claimed that the area is at the bottom, with fear for the survival of milk and meat production – believes Gulan. – The moment is that the farmer does not sell milk to the processor, but that they go to the market together, and share the profit according to a predetermined ratio. This would solve many problems because dairy farmers found themselves in a kind of “scissors” between increasingly expensive production costs and weak sales.

All the listed factories, except for oil, produce dozens of other foods – margarine, sauces, ketchup, mayonnaise… Although we have pastures and raw materials for livestock feed, we also import meat. The import of pork was the most controversial because of the good domestic conditions for fattening pigs. But in the past few months, there seems to be no pork on the side in the refrigerated display cases, since everywhere there are signs that the meat originates from Serbia.

When it comes to this food, there are leaders of domestic companies. The largest in terms of meat processing and pig fattening is IM “Matijević” from Novi Sad, followed by “Juhor” (Jagodina) as part of “Delta Holding” and “Karneks” (Vrbas) owned by MK Group.

And finally about milk. We don’t have enough of it and have started importing it. Two or three decades ago, we had a developed dairy industry and a large herd of dairy cows. This important industry is run by foreign employers.

“Imlek”, a significant domestic supplier of milk and processed products, is managed by the largest investment fund in Central and Eastern Europe, “Mid Europa Partners”, based in London. “Somboled”, behind the “Prezidnet” brand in Sombor, is owned by the French employers Lactalis Group,

“Dairy” (trademark “Biser”) is also managed by the French, the French company “Bongrain”, i.e. “Savencia Fromage Dairy”, Dnevnik writes.