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Agricola Bacau Aims to Gain Market Share & Exports

by 5m Editor
30 August 2011, at 9:45am

ROMANIA - Agricola Bacau plans to sell 31,000 tons of poultry this year, 5,000 tons more than in 2010, with a significant portion of this being exported, according to the company's president.

After a tough 2010 which brought lower sale prices, higher input costs and no more subsidies, local poultry producers are hoping to wing it on a flat market this year, with growth not expected until 2012. Grigore Horoi, president of Agricola Bacau, told Business Review about the group's export strategy and €7 million investment budget for 2011.

Mr Horoi said that the first half of this year brought a 26 per cent increase in poultry sales volumes for Agricola Bacau compared to the same period last year, against the fact that the market as a whole has stagnated. The Romanian poultry market amounted to about €850,000 at the end of last and, so far, poultry consumption in 2011 is mainly characterised by caution. He estimates that the market will remain flat with slight signs of growth only in 2012, when we are most likely looking at a volume increase of no more than three per cent.

Agricola Bacau plans to sell 31,000 tons of poultry this year, 5,000 tons more than in 2010, with a significant portion of this amount going abroad.

On the economic crisis, Mr Horoi said that, following the last two years' experience, his company is prepared to deal with the possible effects of recent international events.

On the development of the local poultry industry, he said 2010 brought massive changes – deflation, the lack of subsidies and more expensive inputs – which have meant higher costs, of about 11.3 per cent of the turnover. Against this backdrop, Agricola Bacau has tried to improve its operational performances, make better use of internal resources, invest in people, better communicate with clients and customers and adjust and foresee market changes. Mr Horoi believes that his company has succeeded.

"We want to stay on the same track and remain among the top local producers," he said.

On poultry prices for the rest of this year, Mr Horoi said: "For poultry, we have successfully recovered the 11.65 per cent price decrease recorded in 2010 compared to 2009. So we have come back to the prices charged in 2009 and I do not think that this will significantly change by the end of 2011. This price recovery was essential, especially given the price increases for feed. Otherwise, companies would simply not have been able to cover their costs."

On the main challenges ahead for Romanian poultry producers, Mr Horoi said: "After subsidies were dropped in 2010, the industry has faced, at least in the first half of the year, great pressure due to the higher costs of raw materials. Although expenses for cereals, our main input, are up in 2011 by an average of 120 per cent compared to 2009, poultry prices have increased this year by only 11 per cent compared to 2010, which is still three per cent below the average of 2009.

"With raw materials accounting for more than 50 per cent of the final price, the negative impact of more expensive raw materials translates into 27 per cent of the cost of a kilogram of poultry in 2011 against 2009. We hope, however, that as this is a good agricultural year, there will be price decreases for the main raw materials we use," he said.

When he became president of the company in 2009, Mr Horoi explained his objectives, saying: "My mandate began in a seemingly quiet period for the poultry industry but this has quickly turned into a challenging one.

"My main objectives have been to restructure the business, to bring a new approach as well as strengthening relations with final consumers. The present structure of the Agricola Bacau group of companies, which is based on business lines, is a met objective. Also, one of the most important aspects of our brand is innovation especially when it comes to new concepts for our products as well as introducing last generation technologies. There is of course room for improvement.

"The biggest challenge was in 2010, a tough year for the poultry industry in general. But we have managed to adapt, respond to market requirements, make our operations more efficient and thus come out with our head held high. As for future objectives, I want to keep Agricola Bacau where it belongs: the main producer of poultry in Romania," said Mr Horoi.

For the Agricola Bacau group of companies, he explained that there was a turnover of up to 440 million leu (RON) budgeted for the current year, which is seven per cent higher than the previous year. Thus, for poultry, the target was a 15 per cent increase, 10 per cent for pre-cooked and ready-meal products, another 10 per cent for dry salami and boiled and smoked products and flat figures for eggs.

Mr Horoi has decided to focus on external markets and has an export strategy for 2011 and the years to come.

He explained: "One of Agricola Bacau's objectives for 2011 is to boost its market share for poultry from 14 per cent last year to 16 per cent. Considering that the Romanian market is a flat one, turning to exports is only natural and their significant increase in value was mainly generated by higher volumes of exported refrigerated meat.

"While in 2010 the company's exports did not exceed 12 per cent of production, this year we estimate that the share will be around 20 per cent. The main countries where we export are Germany, the Netherlands, France and Greece and we also have a special focus on the UK where we have gained market access this year. The first shipments of ready-meal products have already been made by Europrod and we are also looking to export raw dry salami from Salbac. To achieve this requires an increased production capacity for dry raw salami, an investment that we are presently making."

On investment plans for 2011, Mr Horoi told Business Review: "In 2011, the Agricola Bacau group plans to make total investments of about €7 million. Out of this, €3.2 million will be invested in poultry production, €600,000 in the production of raw dry salami, €500,000 in expanding our network of own stores and another €2.5 million will go into modernising the egg-producing farms. Investments in development make up a share of more than 75 percent of the total investment budget and the remainder is various allocations for cutting costs and law compliance costs."