Meat industry: Government paves the way for Toennies?

All the obstacles standing in the way of the long-awaited investment by the German meat processing company Toennies have been finally removed with the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture launching a public call for a 30-year-lease of state-owned arable land intended for investors in livestock breeding.

Despite the Agriculture Minister, Branislav Nedimovic refuting claims that the public call had been launched only to accommodate Toennies. reports that the terms and conditions stated in the call perfectly suit the demands of the German company.

These terms and conditions will make it possible for Toennies to start building farms on large building and agricultural plots which the company needs to implement its investment plan in Serbia.

Serbian government has been announcing the arrival of the one of the biggest German meat companies for two years now, saying that Toennies’ investment would “again put Serbia on the European agricultural map”. Still, despite the signed Memorandum of Understanding and many meetings that the Serbian PM, Aleksandar Vucic had with the company’s representatives, an official agreement still hasn’t been signed as yet, and the public is not informed about the current situation with the investment.

Toennies’ spokesman, André Vielstädte has refused to talk about when and where the construction of the first pig farms would start. “We are still in the planning process. As soon as we are able to, we will notify you about it,” Mr. Vielstädte said for The company is supposed to build its first pig farm in Serbia near Zrenjanin, in Banatski Despotovac, to be more precise.

Last year, the local authorities in Zrenjanin announced that the pig farm would be built on a land plot spanning 23.89 hectares. The farm would be used for breeding 2,500 sows which, thanks to the cutting-edge technology, would produce about 70,000 fatlings.

Toennies has been mentioned quite frequently in the German press, mostly in the negative context where many workers from East Europe work without proper job contracts, in slave-like work conditions. Toennies employed a number of workers via recruitment agencies arousing suspicion of tax evasion.

In 2011, the company’s CEO, Clemens Toennies and nine of the company’s top executives ended up in court on charges of their meat packaging containing less beef than the stated on the label. The company was fined with 2.8 million EUR, although the prosecution asked for 350 million EUR in damages.

Last year, the renowned German magazine, Spiegel reported that Toennies avoided paying a 128-million-EUR fine for breaking anti-monopoly laws and conspiring about meat prices with other meat producers. After the verdict, Toennies shut down two of its daughter companies, and the case was closed.

(Newsweek, 20.02.2017)

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