Slovenian Food Producers: Small and Green
Slovenian Food Producers: Small and Green
The consumers increasingly favor high quality healthy food, produced locally with sustainable methods and coming from identifiable sources. Slovenia, with its small farms, closeness to the markets in Western Europe and its largely unpolluted land seems to have the ideal conditions for this new paradigm in food production. Some of Slovenia’s best food companies exhibited at SIAL in Paris this autumn, one of the world’s most important food fairs.
Italians are in general considered to be savvy when it comes to good food. A secret tip from the gourmets of Northeastern Italy? Not only do they frequently dine in Slovenia, they also come to shop for ingredients. Not for the prices, but for the quality. In Slovenia they can easily find high quality healthy food, coming from identifiable local sources and grown sustainably.
Slovenia, with its small farms, closeness to the markets of Western Europe and its largely unpolluted soil seems to have ideal conditions for the new paradigm in food production. The selection of companies presented at SIAL fair in Paris clearly reflects these new market realities. Some of the largest Slovenian food producers were present at “the world’s number one food exhibition” – but so were some small family businesses entering the wider European market. Bimed and Planet BIO are two small trading companies: Bimed packages dry fruits and nuts and sells its products in Italy, Western Balkans and Slovenia. Planet BIO focuses on “ecological superfood”. Julijana Kejžar presented her fruit brandies and liquors based on traditional home recipes. Apis Vita combines traditional methods of producing fruit based vinegars with modern technology. The fast growing company sells its products under the brand Matejev – and has recently taken over a company in Poland.
Of course, the Slovenian presence in Paris was not limited to family businesses: exhibitors like Mlinotest, ETA and Fructal have been present on the TOP 300 list of the largest Slovenian companies for decades. Eta processes fruits and vegetables. The company with 16 million euros of turnover sells its jams, syrups and pickled vegetables under the brand name Natureta to other EU countries, Southeastern Europe, Russia, Canada and USA. Mlinotest is a bakery and pasta maker from Ajdovščina in Western Slovenia with a 200 year old heritage. The company mostly exports organic bread and pasta. Mlinotest’s sales reached 50 million euros last year. Its main owner Vipa Holding is in the process of liquidation – 48 percent of Mlinotest’s shares should be on the market pretty soon.
Mlinotest is not the only Slovenian food company for sale. Slovenian Sovereign Holding has started the sale of 51.6 percent of Žito, the largest Slovenian bakery. Žito Group is active in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia and made over 100 million euros in sales last year. Some of the largest Slovenian food producers have been sold already. Droga Kolinska was sold to Croatian Atlantic Grupa in 2010. With 169 million euros of sales, Droga Kolinska is the largest of 1,340 food producers in Slovenia. The industry employed 14,412 people and made 1.8 billion euros of sales last year.
As established Slovenian food producers become more and more integrated into larger international groups, a number of new dynamic players emerge on market. A good example is Evrosad. In the past Slovenia used to be known for its top quality fresh and dried fruit: Slovenian apples, for example, were sold throughout Europe. Evrosad revived this tradition, which had almost completely disappeared in the socialist era, and has become one of the fastest growing Slovenian small companies. It produces 20,000 tons of fruit, mostly apples but also peaches and pears. The company’s sales exceeded 10 million euros last year. Slovenian small companies, among other “eco” and “healthy” products, export honey and honey made products, organic meat, herbs and pumpkin seed oil. The share of certified organic products is still small, but the shift is clearly recognizable.