Serbia Newsflash Week 11

A new record in organic farming, soaring e-commerce, decreasing figures in waste generation, issues in the potato market, pig sector investment - The week in Serbian agriculture

Berry fruits put into little plastic boxes.
Beeld: ©Luisella Planeta Leoni
In 2020, Serbia's export of organic products reached a new record of €37 million, an increase of €7 million from the previous year. The dominant segment in Serbian organic farming is fruit production - 99% of which is exported to Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, France, other EU countries and the USA.

Serbian company Porcus Vitalis starts distribution of Hypor swine genetics

Serbian swine producer Porcus Vitalis has signed a long-term distribution agreement with Hendrix Genetics, global multi-species animal breeding company, to distribute Hypor swine genetics in Serbia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Albania. For this purpose, Porcus Vitalis will populate their reconstructed swine farm in the first quarter of 2021 with high health Hypor breeding animals, which will form the basis for their production and distribution activities. Porcus Vitalis will start up an 850-sow high health farm that will be populated in the coming month with SPF (Specific Pathogen Free) Hypor animals. Porcus Vitalis has plans for the future too. The company aims to extend their distribution activities with a separate AI station to provide pure line and terminal sire line semen to local producers.

Surplus of ware potatoes still a pressing issue in Serbia

The Ministry of Agriculture of Serbia has managed to find a market for the surplus of ware potatoes. About 250 tons of potatoes produced in villages in Western Serbia will end up in supermarkets across the country. Mr Radosevic, the State Secretary said that supermarkets operating in Serbia had expressed goodwill and that the purchase was going as planned. The Lidl, Gomex and Delhaize supermarket chains bought the local surpluses. The Ministry of Agriculture is mediating between local producers and retail chains to establish cooperation. A farmer from Western Serbia explained that the previous years had been good, so many people had decided to plant potatoes. The yield was the best last year, but the demand was lower than ever due to the closure of the hospitality sector and restrictive pandemic measures.

Record-breaking results in the export of organic products in 2020

Last year, Serbia exported organic products worth €37 million, a rise of €7 million y-o-y, stated the  Secretary General of the Serbia Organica National Association for Organic Production. The Secretary pointed out that most of the organic products from Serbia are exported to the EU (over 85%), followed by the USA. As for the EU, Germany buys over a third of the exports, followed by the Netherlands, Italy and France. According to data from 2019, around 22 thousand hectares of land was used in organic production in Serbia, which included areas undergoing a conversion process and some that already had the status of organic land, but it was still only 0.6% of the total agricultural land in the country. Serbia mostly produced organic fruit, primarily berries (raspberries, blackberries and blueberries), as well as cereals. The production of vegetables still involves a small area and is mostly focused on the domestic market, whereas 99% of organic fruit is exported.

Someone paying online using a laptop and a credit card.
Beeld: ©rupixen
Experts estimate that the pandemic lockdowns pushed Serbia's e-commerce sector ahead by five years in 2020.

Consumers to select the best brands in the Serbian market

The Moja Srbija Association (My Serbia) launched an action called “Consumers’ Favorite” to select the best brands in the Serbian market. Out of 1,500 nominated products, the award will go to ten brands. The Association is organizing the competition within the framework of the campaign Serbia Has the Quality, which has running for 12 years. According to the Association, by recognizing the top quality brands in the domestic markets, companies are encouraged to invest in improving the quality of their products and services. “By selecting the best ones, we encourage healthy competition among companies and their motivation to create a recognizable and prestigious brand that consumers can trust,” stated the representative of Moja Srbija Association.  

Pandemic pushes e-commerce growth ahead by five years

The Serbian Internet Domains Day Conference showed that in 2020, the year marked by the pandemic, the development of e-commerce reached a level that it would otherwise have taken five years. The lockdown had led to a rise in web store visits and sellers had adjusted to the new situation to compensate for losses and survive. Products most commonly bought online were food, groceries and clothes while food delivery services were the absolute winners. The four most popular delivery services in Serbia now have 360 thousand users. The Conference showed that digital and online businesses were the only services people could count on during uncertain times. It was also discussed that 2020 had shown that e-commerce could undergo astronomical growth. As  noted, the number of payments made with bank cards last year saw a rise of over 100%, and the overall value of transactions in 2020 went up by more than 80%.

Serbia generated 9.62 million tons of waste in 2019

In 2019, a total of 9.62 million tons of waste was generated in Serbia, with hazardous waste accounting for 78 thousand tons, stated the Director of the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency. Presenting an environmental report for 2019 before a parliamentary committee for environmental protection, the Director said that thermal power plants were the biggest waste generators, adding that coal fly ash made up 78% of the total waste. He added that out of 370 thousand tons of packaging placed in the market, 219 thousand tons, (59.2%) had been recycled. Moreover, there are 2.500 illegal dumpsites in Serbia, and the clearing of 1.396 of those sites was organized in 2019, the Director explained.

He also added that in 2019, Serbia exported 420 thousand tons of waste, which is a decline compared to the previous year. The country imported 227 tons of waste, also a drop from 2018. The total revenue arising from environmental fees in 2019 came at 0.24% of the GDP, and 0.08% of the GDP was set aside for incentives and subsidies.