The Dutch feed group said it was not disclosing any information in relation to the financial aspects of the deal. “But we can confirm that we have taken over 100% of the shares of Proteinka. This means that De Heus is a full owner of this company, which has huge potential,” said Joost Belt, corporate director of marketing and communication at the Dutch firm.
Proteinka, with a production capacity of 80,000 tons, produces mixed feed for cattle, poultry and pigs.
The Serbian market currently consists of a lot of small farming operations run as family businesses. Many of those still mix their own local raw materials with concentrates, said De Heus.
But its expectation is that these type of livestock farmers will expand production and start to professionalize in the coming years. The demand for high-quality mixed feeds, to support this greater efficiency, will increase strongly as a result, said Belt.
De Heus said the feed maker, based in Sabac in the north-west of Serbia, is also favorably placed geographically in respect to both the key Serbian livestock farming areas as well as commercial opportunities in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia, markets where the animal husbandry sector is expected to develop rapidly in the coming years.
“If you compare the economic situation in the Balkan region with countries that experienced a similar development stage a correlation can be seen between a growth in prosperity and the need for animal nutrition,” Belt told FeedNavigator.
The total volume of professionally produced mixed feed in Serbia is around 1.5 m tons in a total feed market of 3.4m tons, according to the Dutch company.
Belt said the use of feed additives in the Serbian market is, as far as De Heus can judge, very limited but he reckons their use will rise in tandem with the further professionalization of livestock farming.
The Wageningen based group is aiming to bring its nutritional expertise, its extensive experience of the production of mixed feeds and raw materials as well as its understanding of farming systems to support the development of Proteinka and its customers as they increase scale and efficiency.
De Heus representatives, he said, analyze all the relevant aspects of a local egg, milk or meat producer’s business, in order to offer products tailored to that farm’s specific situation – a strategy that will inform its business development also in the Balkans. “We differentiate ourselves by our on-the-farm approach,” said the marketing director.
Agrifirm also eyes Serbian growth
September 2013 saw another Dutch feed player, Agrifirm, already present in markets such as Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary, invest in Serbia. It acquired a 35% stake in compound feed company, Sto posto, which was reported to have 250 employees and annual revenues of €33m at the time of the investment.
And, that same month, the premix and specialties division of the Agrifirm group, Nuscience, took a 51% interest in Serbian vitamin and mineral premix producer, Novi Mix.
“The agricultural sector in Serbia, which has 3.5 million hectares of arable land and a quarter of the Dutch livestock, has enormous potential for further development,” said Ton Loman, CEO of Agrifirm.
Zoran Vukadinovic, owner of the Sto Posto, said much could be learnt from the Dutch. And he claims, with modern technologies, knowledge and better utilization of resources, Serbia can become a major food producer and double its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).