Serbia Newsflash Week 40

EU-Serbia trade developments, chicken and pig sector news, new companies entering Serbia's market and the success and expansion of the Green Corridors - The week in Serbian agriculture

A nice pork chop
Beeld: ©Edson Saldaña
European pork prices are so low currently that Serbian pig farmers have virtually given up on being able to export to the EU - And actually, currently there is an abundance of cheap EU pork on the Serbian market.

The new IPARD will be €100 million higher

In November 2021, the European Commission is expected to adopt the final version of the IPARD III program for Serbia, and the package of pre-accession assistance for agriculture will amount to €288 million. This amount was increased by more than €100 million because through the previous program, €175 million were allocated for raising the competitiveness of the agricultural sector and adjusting to the standards of the European Union. Source: Politika

Europe has surplus pork and is exporting pigs to Serbia

Pig farmers in Serbia estimate that their chances of exporting pork to the EU are almost non-existent because, due to the surplus of pork on the European market, the prices are lower than in Serbia. They cite the example of pigs having been imported to Serbia recently at a bargain price of €1.5 per kilogram, which lowers the price of local pigs of €1.95. Minister of  Agriculture Mr. Branislav Nedimovic announced another external control of the European Food Safety Authority in February 2022, due to the vaccination against the swine fever, following which, if the results are good, the permit for the export of pork from Serbia to the EU common market should be approved.

A pig farmer from Lacarak, Mr. Bora Suljmanac, said that meat processors import frozen, cheap meat from the EU to produce meat products. This practice adds surplus pork to the market in Serbia, whereas local meat is only used for sale in an unprocessed, fresh condition.

Vitomir Vidovic, an expert in genetics and animal breeding, said that Serbia might be able to export pork to Europe in two years’ time at the earliest, when the last vaccinated pig is slaughtered, but added that there was a pork surplus of 50 million heads of livestock in Europe.

NOMAD FOODS entered the Serbian market  

Last November we reported on announcements of sales of local food producers of frozen products.

Now, Croatia’s Fortenova Group has announced that it had obtained the necessary approvals and completed the sale of its frozen food units Frikom and Ledo to Nomad Goods. In addition to Frikom in Serbia, Ledo in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Ledo Plus in Croatia, the group’s frozen food business also includes several associated companies in other Southeastern European markets.

Mr. Fabris Perusko, CEO of Fortenova Group noted that the €615 million transaction confirmed the value of the frozen food unit. “We also brought to the region a strategic partner that will continue to develop the business and remain dedicated to the growth of the iconic Ledo and Frikom brands,” Mr. Perusko said. He expects Nomad Foods to be an important business partner in terms of the Fortenova Group’s regional retail operations in the future.

According to an official statement, 2021 is a year of transformation for the Fortenova Group since not only has it sold Frikom and Ledo but the official acquisition of Mercator has also been finalized.

Chicken processors getting ready to export to the EU

Perutnina Ptuj-Topiko is planning to launch the accreditation process for its plant in Backa Topola as soon as possible and thus secure all the technical conditions for chicken meat exports to the EU. “We export some of our products to Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and North Macedonia, so the possibility to export to the EU means an opportunity for further expansion,” stated the Backa Topola-based company, part of the international PP Group.

They added that the EU market was very demanding but that vertically integrated local producers could assert themselves in this market based on the offered quality. “Although EU markets mean higher levels of local consumer protection, Serbia can have its key competitive advantages. In addition to a favorable geographic position and good raw materials supply for feedstuffs, the fact that grains fed to chickens in Serbia contain no genetically modified soybeans could be our trump card,” Perutnina Ptuj-Topiko highlighted.

Trucks can be seen waiting at a border crossing point.
Beeld: ©MM
The first year of the Green Lanes initiative has been a success. Roughly 80% of trucks in the CEFTA has been using green corridors, and currently there are talks of extending the Green Lanes to Greece and Italy too.

Ahold Delhaize Serbia: Inspection and transparency are essential in meat production

The transparency of the production process and the following of the highest food safety standards are extremely important to consumers – This was concluded at a panel discussion titled High-quality, Fresh, and Fully Inspected Meat in Stores, organized by Delhaize Srbia.

The company’s Vice-President for Legal Affairs and Asset Protection, Mrs. Milana Jevic Gledovic said the complicated process starts with suppliers and farms, introducing strict control procedures performed by authorized expert bodies. “Supplier inspections are performed at the level of food safety, social compliance, and animal welfare. Our system currently monitors 84 farms, which meet the requirements and are included in the control system. They provide meat and eggs, and we also plan to include dairy products,” Mrs. Gledovic explained.

The VP also added that inspection procedures were conducted annually, respecting the Five Freedoms for animals. The procedures include the aspects of health and quality in the production process on the farm directly, she added.

Serbia is Montenegro’s biggest foreign trade partner

Montenegro’s total foreign trade in January-August 2021 came at €1.86 billion, a rise of 15.2% y-o-y, according to preliminary data offered by the Statistical Office of Montenegro (MONSTAT).

In this period, the value of exports was €266.2 million, up by 15.4% y-o-y, while imports went up by 15.2% y-o-y to €1.6 billion, MONSTAT stated. The export-import ratio was 16.7%, unchanged from the previous year.

Montenegro’s biggest foreign trade partner in terms of exports was Serbia (€69.1 million), followed by Switzerland (€21.5 million) and Bosnia & Herzegovina (€21.3 million). In terms of imports, the country’s biggest trade partner was Serbia again (€321.2 million), followed by China (€160 million) and Germany (€148.8 million). Montenegro reported the highest trade levels with the signatories of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and the EU.

The first year of the Green Corridors/ Green Lanes Implementation

Essential goods have been traveling smoothly through the Green Corridors/Green Lanes in the Western Balkans since April 2020, thanks to the initiative of CEFTA, the Transport Community and the Regional Cooperation Council.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, medical supplies, food and animal feed travelled across the region more easily, reassuring businesses that the trade flows will remain uninterrupted.

In May 2021 CEFTA Green Lanes have been extended to all road Border Crossing Points (BCP)/Custom Crossing Points (CCP) in the region and are being extended to rail BCPs/CCPs too. The Green Lanes will be extended with Greece and Italy.

The statistics show that approximately 80% of trucks are using intra-CEFTA green corridors, with 20% of those using green lanes carrying goods of first necessity and benefiting from priority passage. On a monthly basis, around 61 thousand trucks use green crossings, and about 13 thousand use the priority passage.