With the support of the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project, Voćar Ltd. from Brčko is now able to increase its buy-up, packaging, sales, and exports of dried plums from Northeastern BiH.
“We are always looking for ways to increase and diversify our production,” says Esed Musić, the owner of the Voćar Ltd. from Brčko that annually produces 615 tons of different food products including dried fruit, potato chips, popcorn, peanuts based snacks and butter, spices, energy bars, and waffles. "That is the only way for us to survive in this very competitive and open market.”
Their survival was recently made easier through a Sweden/USAID FARMA II project-awarded grant that helped them buy a new modern packaging machine for the two of their leading products, dried plums, and chocolate-coated plums.
“We already had sufficient capacities to further dry or rehydrate 100 tons of plums a year, but with our outdated packaging equipment, we could only package 60 tons. The new packaging machine we got through the FARMA II project will enable us to increase our production of dried and chocolate-coated plums by at least 40 tons in the first year following the machine installation. We'll use the machine to package other products as well," explains Esed.
Expansion and employment
Voćar Ltd. was first established in 1989 when they started producing and processing plums and wooden packaging for fruit. The 90s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina halted their production for four years. But in 1996, in addition to the production of dried plums, they also started producing waffles. This is when they first received the USAID’s support in a form of a five-year loan to purchase equipment, renovate the production facilities, and increase production.
Since 1996, Voćar diversified its products and now buys all locally available ingredients for their production. "The only thing we import is peanuts. We do not grow peanuts in BiH, and annually BiH imports some 2,000 tons of peanuts for processing,” says Esed. With the current production of 615 tons of food products a year, they employ 60 workers of whom 42 are women, and the company will continue to grow.
"Up to this point, we were buying plums from 10 farmers. We will increase that to 20 farmers, and we plan to employ three new workers to work on the new packaging machine. We plan to increase overall production to some 700 tons a year, of which 100 tons will be processed plums. We will also increase our exports from the current 15 to 20 percent."
Looking for the new markets
The Voćar's new machine will pack dried fruit in the modern and more appealing quad bags that meet further EU food safety standards. Voćar has thus far managed to export its products to Slovenia, Austrian, Germany, Sweden, and the Middle Eastern markets and are looking to conquer new markets in the region.
“We have our partners in the EU and the Middle East. We will continue to work with them and expand our export. But we are also starting to look to the region and are in negotiations with potential partners in Montenegro and North Macedonia," says Esed. "We hope that the exports will account for 40 percent of our sales in the future,” he concludes.