EBRD and EU support sunflower oil producer in North Macedonia

By Volker Ahlemeyer

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Kristal 1923 invests in modern, greener equipment

With their bright yellow colour and long stems, sunflowers are a well-known symbol of summertime.

In North Macedonia they also signal busy times for edible oil producer Kristal 1923. The company produces 50,000 tonnes of oilseeds – and much of this is from the elegant tall flower.

“We are the only company in the country that can produce sunflower oil from start to finish – from seed to final product,” explains production manager Olgica Stojanova. “Our seeds come mainly from local farmers, though we sometimes buy extra from neighbouring countries if they don’t produce enough for our needs. It depends on the harvest.”

The harvest starts in early September but keeps the company busy until the end of the year or even longer, Olgica adds.

A greener production

Kristal 1923 can look back on a long tradition. It first started producing cooking oil 99 years ago. In the late 1990s it expanded its range to include other food items such as margarine, vinegar, spices, grain, confectionary and soy products.

“It can be an energy-intensive process to produce edible oil, as there are various stages to go through in order to extract it from the seeds,” Olgica explains. “Furthermore, technology and production processes have changed over time, which is why we decided to invest in some more advanced equipment.” 

So the company took out a loan of €250,000 from one of the EBRD’s local partner banks, Sparkasse Bank Makedonija. Such finance is part of a joint project with the European Union, which funds incentive payments and support to help companies choose the most suitable equipment and technologies.

Kristal 1923 bought a new peeling machine, purification equipment and burner, which led to more efficient, more reliable and greener production. A reduction in emissions, the removal of fine impurities from seeds through air ventilation and improved hulling resulting in higher protein for animal feed were just some of the benefits. 

It also meant the company could reduce its energy consumption by 13 per cent as well as cut costs.

Sunflower oil producer invests in new technology with help from EBRD and EU

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Quality food for a century

“Kristal 1923 has been synonymous with quality for almost a century,” Olgica explains proudly. “There isn’t a household in the country where you won’t find our products. Our edible oil and margarine, Kristal, are the most recognisable brands but we are equally proud of all our other products too: tahini halva, Turkish delights, jellied candies, spices, fig sweets, vinegar and so on.”

Kristal 1923 sells its products in other countries, too, such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia.

“Our new equipment has provided us with a competitive edge and is good for the environment too,” Olgica says. “Our plan for the future is to maintain a leading position in the market and the trust of consumers, which is passed on from generation to generation. As Kristal 1923, we continue to develop and invest in the production of healthy and quality food.”

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