The Serbian Wagyu cattle

Small farm issues, rising food prices, expo representation, rural development program and Lidl's success in Serbia - Our weekly briefing on agriculture, food and nature news in Serbia

Wagyu cattle on a field. Their fur is black. A few are looking directly into the camera.
Beeld: ©Etienne Girardet

Wagyu cattle, most expensive in world, to be bred in Serbia

Wagyu cows, the world's most prestigious breed of cattle, whose meat is served exclusively in elite restaurants, are now being bred in Serbia as well. A farm of carefully selected black cattle has been established in Cacak, central Serbia, writes E-kapija portal.

Japanese Wagyu is famously the most expensive type of beef in the world, mostly because of the unique quality of the meat and good genes. The first Wagyu herd in Serbia was founded by Nemanja Borjanovic, who runs the Txuleta beef distribution company in London. He gained his reputation by bringing the prestigious Spanish breed of Galician blue cattle to the UK market, the portal writes. “Our goal is to produce the highest possible quality of cows in Serbia, and that's why we imported the best and most expensive genetics. It increases our chances of breeding cattle with a high degree of meat mottling, as well as good milk production for calves and herd development,” Borjanovic points out.

One of the pillars in the production of Japanese cattle in Cacak is the Goorambat Mr. Marble K483 Wagyu cow that carries the pedigree of Shigeshigetani, Itoshigenami and Terutani cows. It comes mainly from the Tajima province in Japan. “We started breeding with two heifers, Julka and Gara, and 100 seeds. The goal is to grow by 50 to 75 cows per year through artificial insemination and embryo transfer,” says Borjanovic. The export of Wagyu cows from Japan began in 1975 and continued until the 1990s when it was banned because Wagyu were declared a national treasure. Therefore, all the cows outside Japan, including those in Cacak, are descendants of cows that were exported during that period of 15 years, explained Borjanovic.

Small livestock farms in difficult position  

Small farms in Serbia are selling off livestock due to the unprofitability of production of fattening bulls and milk, after taking subsidies granted by the Ministry of Agriculture, the President of the Association of Cattle Breeders of Central Serbia, Milija Palamarevic stated for Beta news agency.

Milija Palamarevic called upon the government to urgently take appropriate measures to stop the reduction of the livestock population. He told Beta that the fattening of bulls is not profitable even though the price of beef in stores is high and that it is unprofitable for small milk producers to operate because buyers are blackmailing them with a price of €0.21/liter. “The government urgently has to stop the reduction of livestock, I am a veterinarian and I see that farmers sell cows and bulls massively because the production of milk and meat is unprofitable,” said Palamarevic.

He added that he is also a milk producer, but he is one of the big farmers and that buyers pay him €0.52/l of milk, adding that with the government premium of €0.17/l, that price ensures his income. According to him, small farms, which have one to several cows, but have a large share in the total livestock population iin the country, are conditioned by processors and cannot survive with the price of €0.21/l of milk, so they sell off the cows.

Palamarevic called on the government to urgently create a strategy for preserving livestock because without a clear strategy there is no agriculture. In addition, as he said, when the number of cattle decreases, the production of fodder will also be jeopardized.

Serbia represented by 36 companies at Cologne’s food fair

The Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) announced that a record 36 Serbian companies is represented at the world's largest food industry fair, Anuga, in Cologne this year. As stated, companies from Serbia present their export commodities in two halls - in one, ready-made products, and in the other, frozen products.

The wide range of Serbian ready-made products includes honey & honey-based dietetic products, fruit juices, organic jams & pasta, pasteurized pickles, dried fruit & mushrooms, baby food, fruit concentrates & purees, confectionery, tea pastries, chocolate fruit, wine, muesli, oatmeal, chocolate, as well as an assortment of frozen fruits & vegetables, cakes and cookies.

The aim of this participation of companies from Serbia at the fair, as PKS representative Ms. Zorana Delic said, is to promote and increase exports of the Serbian food industry to the markets of Germany and the entire EU, but also to get familiar with global trends and innovations in the food industry. The announcement also reiterates that the PKS and the Development Agency of Serbia (RAS) traditionally organize the participation of companies at the Anuga fair in Cologne, which this year runs from October 7 to 11.

Food prices in August much higher than a year ago

Compared to a year ago, the price of sterilized milk rose the most in August, by 31.5%, while most food items became cheaper in August compared to July, the Ministry of Internal & Foreign Trade announced on its website, citing the data of the Statistical Office of Serbia.

August prices, in comparison with prices from the same period last year, were higher by varying degrees. Although wheat flour became cheaper by 0.5% and cooking oil by 10.9%, all other food categories went up in price, including pasteurized milk by 29.4%, yogurt by 29.5%, white bread by 7.9%, chicken leg quarter (thigh and leg) by 5.9%, beef with bones by 1.2%, pork with bones by 10.3%, and sugar by 21.2%.

However, the m-o-m price increase looks different because only white bread rose in price by 0.3%, beef with bones by 0.8%, and pork with bones by 0.9%, while the price of all other foodstuffs decreased. Pasteurized milk went down in price by 0.9%, sterilized by 1.2%, yogurt by 0.5%, flour by 0.1%, chicken drumsticks & thighs by 0.4%, edible oil by 5.2%, and sugar by 0.1%, the Ministry announced.

Additional funds for rural house purchase program

The Serbian Government adopted the Decree on the allocation of grants for the purchase of minibuses for the transportation needs of the rural population on the territory of Serbia for the year 2023, which enabled the purchase of 17 new minibuses, intended to connect 368 villages in Serbia.

The project will solve the basic needs of the rural population, enable a better quality of life and create conditions for greater availability of health, cultural, administrative and educational services, and at the same time improve the standard of living of the rural population. Due to the great interest in the grants for “Purchase of a country house with a garden” in Serbia, a program implemented by the Ministry of Rural Welfare, the members of the government passed a decree that will enable the continuation of this program and for these purposes allocated additional funds in the total amount of €3.8 million. Including new funds, the Government has allocated a total of €7.65 million for this program since the beginning of the year.

Lidl to continue with investments in retail sector in Serbia  

The first Lidl stores opened in Serbia five years ago. In the past five years, the company has invested more than €550 million in Serbia, exported Serbian goods worth over €30 million and employed over 3.300 people.

“When we look at the previous five years, which haven’t exactly been easy in market terms, I am proud to say that, with the same vigor, we have opened 67 stores in 38 towns. According to the Gfk survey for 2023, Lidl is in first place in overall consumer satisfaction and that is what motivates us to continue offering products with the best price and quality ratio on a daily basis and to keep paying attention to the needs of our customers, but also the local economy” – stated the CEO of Lidl Srbija, Dragan Cigoja.

The study that Dragan Cigoja  refers to is the Gfk multiclient study “Shopper 360”, which analyzed the Serbian grocery trade market in 2023. Aside from customer satisfaction, Lidl also ranked high in fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as baked goods quality. Customers ranked Lidl’s in-house bakeries, produce market sections, and its offer of fresh meat as the best in the categories of cleanness, fair prices, discounts, product presentation and price-to-quality ratio as well.