EBRD and EU support Bosnian meat producer with green ambitions

By Nigina Mirbabaeva

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When you think of Bosnia and Herzegovina, what first comes to mind is often its troubled history. You probably do not think of the green economy and solar power. But Menprom, a leading meat producer in the north east of the country, is trying to change that perception.

With support from the European Union (EU) and the EBRD, Menprom has installed solar panels in its factory, taking it one step further onto a green path.

“We have always wanted to be a unique company, which is why we chose the meat industry – we wanted a product that reflected the Bosnian lifestyle, and which we could proudly say is ‘Made in Bosnia’,” says Merima Dževdetbegović, Menprom’s COO. Her father, Alic Mensur, founded Menprom in 1998, with just nine employees producing various types of cooked meat products. Over 20 years, Menprom grew to be one of Bosnia’s leading meat processing companies, producing Bosnia’s beloved ćevapi sausages, along with the many other meat delicacies so prevalent in the Bosnian diet.  

But Menprom is not just a leader in its field – it is also a leader in the wider business community. In 2007 Menprom became the first company in the country to successfully implement international food safety standards, as well as standards certifying its food as Halal. So, of course, when climate change mitigation began to dominate political discourse, Menprom took note of the opportunities a green transition could offer.

“We have been moving towards greener production for some time now. We started with the simplest step – replacing all lights in our factory with greener LEDs. Afterwards came the installation of a wastewater heat recovery system and air-to-water heat pumps to increase the energy efficiency of our factory,” says Merima.

When the time came for the next step, the answer was obvious: moving to renewable energy.

“The high energy prices in Europe had prompted us to think of alternative energy, and as Bosnia experiences quite a lot of sunshine between spring and autumn, solar power seemed like the obvious choice,” she explains. 

However, the local market lacked expertise. Few businesses in Bosnia are familiar with solar energy, let alone use it for their energy needs, due to a complicated legal procedure and insufficient financial support from the government. To turn her ambition into reality, Merima approached the EBRD for advice.

Through its Advice for Small Businesses programme, funded in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the EU, the EBRD helped Merima undertake a comprehensive energy audit and install a series of solar panels that each produce 450 kWh.

“This month 40 per cent of our energy consumption came from our solar panels, and we expect this to be even higher in the summer months,” says Merima. On average, Menprom expects their solar panels to produce 30 per cent of their overall energy use, which will lead to €40,000 worth of energy savings every year, as well as reducing their annual CO₂ emissions by around 500,000 kg. And, in just two years, the investment is projected to become profitable.

Merima hopes Menprom will lead by example and motivate other companies considering the value of investing in sustainability measures to follow suit. “Our country is still struggling with major polluters, such as heavy industry, and thermal and individual coal-fired power plants, so it is vital for companies small and large to adopt green measures that can contribute to addressing and mitigating climate change. We hope others can see that investing in energy efficiency measures is not only good for the planet but is also a sound business decision that can make your company more competitive,” she concludes. 

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