Voćar Piramida, a fruit producer and processor from Visoko, now makes quality natural juices and dried fruit and herbs. The Sweden/USAID FARMA II project is helping them access EU markets and improve marketing, packaging, and online communications.

“I am an electro engineer,” says Suljo Selimović, owner of Voćar Piramida, a fruit producer and processor from Visoko, Central BiH. "For 35 years I worked for oil companies around the world heading projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars. At some point, it became too much and I decided to come back home to a family farm in the suburbs of Visoko.”

Thinking like an engineer, Suljo started preparing the ground for his homecoming well in advance. Already in 2003, he started buying land and setting up an 11-hectares-large fruit orchard, and in 2007 he established the company.

Working with the community

Depending on the season, Suljo’s orchard yields 40 to 60 tons of apples, plums, and pears. However, his plan was always to work with small farmers from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"From 2007 to 2014, we worked with fresh fruit only. The business developed quickly. We bought from local farmers and exported some 3,000 tons of fruit, mainly to Germany," says Suljo. “However, the market changed in 2014 with the EU introducing import levies. In May of that year, we also suffered devastating floods, so we had to rethink our business."

Switching to fruit processing was their next step. “In late 2014 we attended training in Germany on fruit processing technology and processes and started producing first fruit juices already in 2015. Learning from 2014, we shrank in volume and opted for a more stable, resilient, and long-term business path. We now work with 82 contracted farmers and we depend on each other to produce, process, and sell about 150 tons of fruit and herbs each year," notes Suljo.

“Our Nature”

Voćar Piramida’s juice production grew gradually from 15,000 liters in 2017 to 80,000 liters in 2019. Today, they produce 13 different natural fruit juices, dried fruits (plums and pears), and herbs. All these products are sold under the Our Nature brand.

“We invested a lot in improving the quality of our products and making them last up to 12 months without the use of preservatives. Last year we also implemented the HACCP standard," says Suljo and adds that one cannot be an expert in all the fields. "We managed to make excellent products but we needed help with marketing and promotion. This is where the FARMA II project was of great assistance."

Working with FARMA II

Suljo first got in touch with the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project in late 2018, when Voćar Piramida participated in the project provided workshop on marketing and graphic design. Their cooperation with the project intensified in early 2020 when the seminars on product branding and product marketing were organized along with the B2B meetings with a potential buyer from Sweden.

"Seminars, meetings, and later webinars organized by the FARMA II project helped us realize which way we needed to go. We sought further project support and FARMA II consultants developed a marketing and promotion plan for us just a few weeks ago. They also improved our packaging to better communicate our products and they made it ready for the Swedish market. Product information is now provided in local and Swedish languages," says Suljo.

The Sweden/USAID FARMA II project is now working with Voćar Piramida to improve their social media communications while Suljo plans to upgrade the company website and social media presence that would also speak to foreign markets. “In the meantime, the first delivery of fruit juices and dried herbs was sent to Sweden and with that we hope to continue increasing exports which now account for 15 percent of our sales,” concludes Suljo.