Bulgaria joins AMITOM
A small country in the eastern part of Europe, Bulgaria benefits from a very good climate and soils, and thirty years ago was among the biggest producers of tomatoes on the Balkans with more than one million tonnes produced, which were exported to all the neighbouring countries and consumed in the country. Unfortunately, with the changes after the end of communism and some stress situations as financial crisis, Bulgaria now only processes around 40,000 to 45,000 tonnes of tomatoes, for its domestic needed, while it imports both fresh and processed tomatoes mainly from Poland, Greece, Turkey. The consumption of fresh tomatoes is high with an estimated 20 kg per capita.
Field production is concentrated mostly in the south-central regions of Plovdiv, Pazardzhik and Haskovo. Productivity in the sector overall remains lower than in competitor countries, with difficulties in tomato production related to irrigation, with insufficient infrastructure and high costs, as well as a shortage of labour. All this hinders larger-scale production, which could otherwise relatively easily benefit from the opportunities of the short supply chain and the efficiencies of modern trade. Since 2016, despite the lower overall rate of the Single Area Payment Scheme in Bulgaria compared to older EU Member States, the fruit and vegetable sectors have received additional funding under coupled support schemes. A widespread view in among producers is that subsidies to the sector are insufficient and lower than in other countries. However, this is something of a myth.
Most of the canning and processing factories in Bulgaria are members of the Union of Processors of Fruits and Vegetables which was created 25 years ago in in February 1999 and currently has more than 50 members. The Association of Traditional Bulgarian Preserved Foods (ATBPF) is part of the union but was created a year ago by some of its members to comply with the requirements of the EU and some of the new requirements in Bulgaria for producing traditional products with traditional recipes. Its members are united under a common aim: to produce an offer traditional Bulgarian food, produced from Bulgarian raw materials. For example, lutenitsa*, rose jam and others. Members products can be found in all EU countries and not only, in Australia, Japan, USA, etc.
ATBPF’s missions are to make detailed analysis for the sector, also implementing new technologies and surveys for the fields, cooperating with the university of agriculture in Plovdiv, and with the ministry of agriculture for implementing the requirements of the EU and the Bulgarian food agency for involving all parties in the process of good commercial practices in the food industry; following all crucial points and evaluating processes from the field up to the table. It is also to introduce to its members’ consumers the products in a new way, the explain the safeness of the technologies used to grow and to develop this product; to organize meetings between the producers and farmers; to help organizing events and participate to different seminars and exhibitions and to help its members be more productive and to have more qualified personnel.
The association currently has twelve members, including the two largest tomato processors: Balkan Agricultural, by far the biggest first-stage processor in Bulgaria with about 35,000 tonnes of tomatoes processed each year and a daily processing capacity of 750 tonnes, and Deroni Ltd, which owns land where tomatoes are grown, nurseries to produce tomato seedlings, and factories producing finished products, including the traditional Bulgarian lutenitsa, but also ketchup, tomato sauces, etc.
ATBPF will be represented on the Board of AMITOM by:
Mr Abdullah Al Nuaimi – Balkan Agricultural LTD – Head of the Delegation
Mr Alexander Angelinov – Deroni LTD – delegate
Mr Nidal Shaban – Balkan Agricultural LTD – delegate