German company Tonnies to invest in Serbian zootechnics

Clemens Tonnies, the owner of the German meat processing company Tonnies, confirmed in Belgrade that he intends to invest in Serbian meat production and that he has reached an agreement about the next steps to begin business in Serbia with prime minister Aleksandar Vucic. The most important steps are the authorization procedures and the training of local staff.

In April of last year, the Serbian government and the German firm Tonnies signed a memorandum of understanding. The memorandum was signed by economic minister Zeljko Sertic and Tonnies representative Daniel Nottbrock. Vucic then said that the company intended to grow three million fattening pigs.

In the press conference after the most recent meetings with Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic, Tonnies said that it will invest a total of 300 million Euro in Serbia in the next five years.

Vucic said that the contract with Tonnies will be ready in June because Serbia still has a lot to do, especially in terms of training and identifying which farmers could receive the pigs.

Tonnies explained that the company’s team has already begun the planning process for ten agricultural enterprises in Serbia and emphasized that its arrival does not mean that national production will be reduced. On the contrary, the company intends to make use of those who already produce pork for the Serbian market. The German firm Tonnies is one of Europe’s largest pork producers. Every year, they raise approximately 17 million fattening pigs and 400,000 cattle. The company has an annual turnover of over 5 billion Euro.

“Tonnies is the largest company of its kind in Europe. In a few years, it intends to produce pork in Serbia in its own farms, doing the majority of its purchasing from our own farmers, for a total of 4 million pigs,” said Vucic.

“Tonnies is not arriving in the market to reduce national production. It is preparing products for export. We export to 98 countries worldwide. We are the world leader in pork exports, producing 82% of the total exports. We have sixteen export offices which will be able to export meat from Serbia, so we will increase the demand for meat in the country,” explained Clemens Tonnies similarly.

“The expected production of four million pigs is an enormous boost for Serbia. Agriculture is very important in our country. The most recent news that we have received from Tonnies – that they wish to invest and work in this country for many years and remain here, that they want to make their farms profitable – represents the recovery of Serbian agriculture,” the prime minister emphasized. He added that today in Serbia, 2.8 million pigs are slaughtered, and in 2010/2011, zootechnics stock fell to 1910 levels.

“Today, we can see that the German meat producer Tonnies is coming to Serbia, and that foreign investments are arriving. However, the problem is that Vucic says that in the next ten years, Tonnies will produce four million pigs and that no one could expect this kind of progress in the agricultural sector. Unfortunately, in 2011, we had 3.9 million pigs in Serbia without the presence of Tonnies, and today, we only have 2 million. So Mr. Vucic’s regime has actually reduced zootechnics stock by half and made it so that our farmers are not competitive pork producers. Now, he is talking about the fact that Serbia will return to 2011 levels in the next ten years and how no one could have dreamed that this would happen,” Bojan Pajtic, president of the provincial government of Vojvodina, countered.

Pajtic criticized the agreement with Tonnies as “useless” based on the fact that between 15,000 and 18,000 hectares will be managed by the German agency instead of being reserved for the farmers that have rented the land up until now.

“It would be trivial and responsible to allow the farmers that have leased the land up until now, cultivated the land, and fed their families to organize themselves into a cooperative and deliver their product to Tonnies. But this new agreement means that thousands of people and thousands of families will not have a way to sustain themselves because the land and the ability to live off the land will be taken from them and given to Tonnies. Unfortunately, the concept and the method of negotiation are not useful and are not good for Serbians. Instead of benefitting from foreign investments, the citizens are being put in danger – not because of the investors, but through the fault of the government, which negotiated the agreement badly,” said Pajtic.

(Tanjug, Danas; 23.02.2016)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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