Spicing up Macedonia’s food sector

By Axel  Reiserer

The EBRD – together with Ohridska Banka Societe Generale – is supporting the growth and expansion of the Macedonian food producer Vipro with the provision of €1.3 million. Vipro is one of the leading producers of processed vegetable and fruit products in the country.

The expansion of Vipro serves as an example for the potential of the Macedonian economy. Established in 1992 by Viktor Petkov it is a family business which has grown rapidly in recent years. Today Vipro exports 55 per cent of its production – which includes ajver, spicy relish ljutenica, pasteurised gherkins, pickles, jam and marmalade – are exported to the Balkans, USA, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Hungary.

The funding will be used to finance the company’s further expansion plans which include, among others, two additional production lines and the enlargement of its cold storage capacities. The EBRD will provide 38 per cent of the new funding which will be provided under the Bank’s Medium-sized Co-financing Facility, a framework signed with Ohridska Banka in May 2013 which enables EBRD to become the first IFI that co-finance together with local banks Macedonian companies.

Anca Ioana Ionescu, Head of EBRD Skopje Resident Office, said: “We are very glad to sign this deal for several reasons. First, it materializes EBRD’s support to the Macedonian real sector and shows that we have confidence in the Macedonian companies. Second, it strengthens our partnership with Ohridska Banka, to whom we are very grateful for the help in promoting and developing this product. And finally, it helps promoting Macedonia’s agricultural potential and particularly helps in promoting one of the leading companies in this sector Vipro, whose development EBRD is proud to support.”

Filip Kotora, Member of the Board of Directors of Ohridska Banka underlined: “Ohridska Banka remains true to the original Societe Generale mission of 150 years ago: financing the development of key industries. Food is a strategic industry in the country. Many companies were started from scratch by courageous entrepreneurs at a time when the odds were stacked against them. Through sacrifice and perseverance, they made inroads into foreign markets that once seemed out of reach. Their secret is a unique quality product. VIPRO epitomizes the potential of this industry. Ohridska Banka is committed to help VIPRO enlarge production capacity and supply foreign markets beyond the traditional ambit of local producers. In partnership with the EBRD, we are providing long-term financing to VIPRO at competitive conditions. Helping local companies compete successfully in the global marketplace reflects the commitment of Ohridska Banka and the EBRD to the Macedonian business community.”

Viktor Petkov, CEO of Vipro, added: ”Vipro Gevgelija is a company that has been in the business of vegetable and fruit processing for two decades. Vipro has been a development and export oriented company, an approach that requires assets for its business plans implementation. The opportunity for obtaining joint financial assistance from Ohridska Banka and the EBRD shall provide Vipro with increased investment activities, which will further result in improved efficiency, increased production and increased sale.

In cooperation with Ohridska Banka and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development we shall continue our intensive development trend by modernizing our new production plant in the village of Prdejci near Gevgelija.

We expect the new investments implementation to double our current annual processing from about EUR 3 million of raw materials (fresh vegetables and fruits) to raw materials in value of EUR 6 million processed per year.

In that way we will also contribute for the local development, for an increased number of jobs directly in our production and its logistics, as well as for the increased purchase of agricultural products from the primary production. ”

The EBRD started investing in the Macedonian economy in 1993 and to date has signed over 80 projects with a net cumulative business volume of more than €1.1 billion in the country.