A €30 million loan by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will boost the competitiveness and operational efficiency of Nectar, the leading juice producer in the Western Balkans.
The funding will also support Nectar, and its Slovenian subsidiary Fructal, as the Serbian group develops origin-based labels for fresh fruit products under the EBRD/FAO geographical indication (GI) project.
The use of geographical indications distinguishes products according to local characteristics and traditional methods of production and helps local producers increase their export potential.
Nectar, the regional market leader, will help champion the EBRD/FAO GI project by improving the certification of raspberries from Serbia’s Arilje region. Around 100 raspberry farmers are expected to obtain the certification under the project.
Furthermore, the financing will help implement and promote GI examples that can be replicated not only in the fruit sector but also in other areas, and will facilitate the differentiation of local products.
Matteo Patrone, EBRD Director for Serbia, said: “We are pleased with the opportunity to extend our support to Nectar and deepen our cooperation with a longstanding client. The EBRD is proud to have supported Nectar since 2007 and to have helped it become a regional champion. The project fits well with the EBRD’s strategy for Serbia, which includes further strengthening of the private sector’s competitiveness and structural improvements in the agribusiness sector.”
“The EBRD and FAO initiated the GI project to help local producers become more competitive and achieve greater market access with their unique products. The project aims to demonstrate the value of quality, which is rewarded by better prices and higher revenues for producers,” said Gilles Mettetal, EBRD Director for Agribusiness.
Slobodan Radun, the founder and President of Nectar, added: “We are proud to have the EBRD as our strong, long-term partner. It helps us to promote our products and bring them to new markets as an established brand.”
The EBRD loan is split in two tranches: €25 million to refinance the existing debt portfolio and an uncommitted €5 million for future energy efficiency improvements and other capital expenditure. In addition, Serbian and Slovenian partner banks are extending €35 million to Nectar and Fructal for debt restructuring.
The FAO/EBRD project is in its early stages and is part of a larger initiative, enjoying donor financing from Luxembourg. This is the second fruit product from Serbia to participate in the GI project, following the success of improved certification for the Serbian sour cherry.
Since the start of its operations in Serbia, the EBRD has invested more than €3.8 billion in 182 projects across the country. The Bank invests in the financial sector, industry, commerce, agribusiness, energy and infrastructure.