CROATIA – Podravka, Croatia’s leading food group, has announced a EUR 13 million (USD 14.1 million) investment aimed at enhancing its processing capabilities for tomatoes within the domestic market.

The company is currently in the process of constructing a state-of-the-art facility at its existing Kalnik site in Varaždin, with completion anticipated by this summer.

The primary objective of this move is to significantly enhance Podravka’s primary processing capacity for fresh tomatoes.

The investment underscores the company’s commitment to meeting the growing demand for its products while ensuring operational efficiency.

The company’s financial performance in 2023 reflects growth, with revenues reaching EUR 713.8 million (USD 773.3 million), marking a 7% increase from the previous year.

Notably, the food division experienced a 6% revenue boost, reaching EUR 553.6 million (USD 602.1 million). Despite rising input costs, the group’s EBITDA decreased by 2% to EUR 91.9 million (USD 99.6 million), with the food division reporting a 15% drop in EBITDA to EUR 9.3 million (USD 10.1 million).

However, the group’s net profit after minority interests saw a significant rise of 35.3%, reaching €66.4 million.

Podravka, known for its diverse portfolio of food brands, including Vegeta, Lino, and Eva, is already engaged in tomato production with offerings such as tinned pureed, peeled, chopped tomatoes, and passata under the Podravka brand name.

This strategic investment comes on the heels of a collaborative effort between two Croatian food industry heavyweights, Atlantic Grupa and Podravka, who joined forces in March of the previous year. Their collaboration, primarily focused on mutual export support, targets the US and Austria.

Beyond Podravka’s strategic move, the agricultural landscape in Croatia and Serbia has witnessed challenges related to the cold chain and postharvest losses.

A comprehensive analysis revealed that the annual postharvest loss of fruits and vegetables in the Western Balkan Countries is alarmingly high, estimated to be between 30-40%.

The need for increased storage capacities, particularly controlled atmosphere storage, has been underscored to address this issue effectively.

In Croatia, the current storage capacities fall short of the ideal requirements, with only 27% dedicated to controlled atmosphere storage.

Meanwhile, Serbia, a key player in the export of frozen raspberries, faces challenges despite having 29 controlled atmosphere storage facilities.

These findings underscore the importance of comprehensive solutions to address postharvest losses and ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector in the region.

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