Coffee producer in North Macedonia improves productivity with EBRD and EU support

By Bojana Vlajcic

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There are as many different ways of enjoying a coffee, as there are countries. In the Arab world, people like refined, sweet coffee. The French like to have coffee for breakfast with their croissants. Italians are fond of a strong espresso served in small cups. In North Macedonia, the locals prefer strong black coffee prepared the traditional way in a coffee pot.

Rio Cafe, based in Skopje, combines tradition and modern technology to produce coffee products that are well known in many homes in North Macedonia. With the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU), the company has invested in a new coffee processing line, which has led to increased productivity and greater energy efficiency.

Becoming a greener company

“We started our coffee business back in the 1990s and, over time, developed a wide product range, which includes traditional coffee, instant coffee, cappuccino and other coffee powders. Our coffee is sold in supermarkets across the country. We like to think that each morning thousands of coffee lovers start their day with our products, which are distinguished by their premium quality,” explains Kiril Andonovski, Executive Director of Rio Cafe.

The company strives to follow global trends in coffee production and to invest in modern technology that can help it boost its business. Rising energy prices have prompted it to think about how it can improve its productivity without increasing energy costs.

“We decided to replace our old coffee processing line with a view to increasing our production and lowering our energy consumption”, says Mr Andonovski. “The new equipment is more energy efficient and also minimises waste.”

The EBRD and the EU, through local partner bank NLB Bank, extended financing to Rio Cafe to purchase the new processing line. Once it had carried out the investment, the company received a 15 per cent EU-funded cash-back grant.  

Greener is more competitive

As in many countries in the Western Balkans, businesses and households in North Macedonia consume more energy than in EU countries. The EBRD and EU are working together to encourage them to invest in energy-saving measures, by providing loans and grants for such investments.

“Energy efficiency is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to combat climate change, reduce energy costs for consumers and improve the competitiveness of companies,” says David Geer, EU Ambassador to North Macedonia. “SMEs represent a significant portion of the Macedonian economy and their carbon footprint adds to overall levels of pollution. With programmes like this, and the grant incentives, the EU is helping SMEs to assess their energy use, increase their energy efficiency and identify suitable changes to increase sustainability. Companies that choose to use renewable power create renewable products and set a positive example for the public with regard to the ideal lower-carbon economy we aim to create."

“There are many benefits of investing in energy-saving measures for businesses,” explains Andi Aranitasi, EBRD Head of North Macedonia. “It does not only save costs and CO2 emissions, but can also make them more competitive in EU markets, especially in view of the announced EU carbon border adjustment mechanism. This will be a powerful incentive for Western Balkans economies and companies to decarbonise, as the EU is by far the dominant trading partner for the region, which is why we will continue to support local businesses in investing in energy efficiency.” 

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