Plum job for Serbian grower in the EU
A Serbian grower and trader has made inroads in the Netherlands with plums he claims have a more "natural flavor" than a lot of the competition in the market.
Speaking with www.freshfruitportal.com during the Amsterdam Produce Show last week, Darkom director Alen Miric said his export business had traditionally focused more on Russia, but now he was finding new opportunities in the EU.
"People were satisfied because our farmers, our producers, our products are not so modern like in the more developed countries where the government is helping you or giving you some money for investments.
"So our production is on a lower level of technology, that’s the problem, but our flavor is really natural. It’s the true natural flavor, so when we send one truck of the plums to Holland, he sends a couple of pallets here, a couple of pallets there - the response was superb."
He said the taste could be summed up in a call he received from an experienced fruit trader who gave his kids the plums on the way home from soccer practice.
"His kids said 'Dad, why do you always bring us those water plums? Why don’t you bring us these plums? They taste so good'."
"He said to me, 'if you can pack them a little bit nicer with a carton box with some stickers on top, a little bit more layered, we can get a better price and do more promotions'.
"So we have to educate ourselves in the packing, in the promotion, the marketing, the picture, everything, and then increase our plum production."
As part of the modernization process, Miric said the group was building a new storage facility in the city of Šabac.
"It will have 1,500 square meters with brand new technology. It's a brand new facility, a new investment for us - we are already present in that city but we were in a rental storage, and now we are building our own we are going to increase the business there.
"It’s set to open next year in the summertime because then it will start with the domestic products.
"We’re going to buy more Serbian products and help the Serbian producers to promote their products and sell their products and earn money for them."
He says the company also grows apples, pears and quinces, with the latter used to make the traditional Serbian alcoholic drink rakia as well as juices and teas.
"We also do peppers of different varieties and this year we will start with garlic," he added.
While many Serbian exporters have jumped on the opportunities in Russia since the country's ban on EU produce, Darkom was present in the Russian market before that happened in August, 2014.
"We’ve got good partners over there – the business with them is nice - it's okay, it's hard, it's demanding but it’s profitable.
"Now with this ban on Europe the demand was bigger of course, but that also created some room for people who never played any part in the fruits and vegetables business.
"They heard there was a lot of money there and they started to do it – to be honest they ruined the beauty of the business a little bit," he said, referring to a prevalence of companies that are not exactly trading by the book.
"We were forced as a company with a good name to back out a little bit from that because we don’t want to be in the shadow of some unclear businesses."