One egg a day keeps the doctor away
During the COVID-19 pandemic, AGREKS — one of the largest egg producers in BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) — produced enough eggs to supply the domestic and international markets while maintaining their prices at the pre-pandemic level.
When visitors opened AGREKS’ Facebook page in early April, nothing conveyed that the COVID-19 pandemic was happening. Its top posts featured two job vacancies and the best wishes for Catholic and Orthodox Easters, which was rather calming and pointed to a holiday spirit.
Stable prices and stable production
This reflects the mood at their production facilities and with AGREKS Director, Predrag Miličić, from Donji Žabar, in Northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. He notes that apart from the increased safety and protection measures the production is running as usual.
“In addition to supplying the BiH market, we are also able to maintain our export levels,” Predrag said. “More importantly, maintaining continuity of our production meant we needed our workers, and we kept the price of our eggs at the pre-pandemic level.”
He said that AGREKS’ eggs are available in all big retail chains and numerous small shops. The eggs are sold under the NAJ brand, but also under the Konzum , Mercator, Tropic, Amko komerc, Elzam promet, Hipex trademark, among others.
"When we take all of this into consideration, we can say that our sales are steady too,” he said.
70 million eggs a year
When the pandemic started, AGREKS suffered a short-lived deficit in reserves of corn which they import from Serbia and use to produce animal feed. But this issue was resolved rather quickly and the production was not interrupted.
AGREKS produces over 70 million eggs a year. With the support of the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project, it became the first BiH producer to get permission to export eggs for industrial processing to the EU.
In late 2019 and early 2020, they exported almost one million eggs to Croatia. Their eggs are also available in Serbian, Montenegrin and North Macedonian markets, and exports account for almost 20 percent of their sales.
Current challenges and future goals
While the production of eggs goes as planned, new challenges have surfaced..
“These are, after all, extraordinary circumstances,” Predrag said. “Movement of people and vehicles is limited and the routes we use to import corn from Serbia, for example, or export eggs, are twice longer now, and much slower.”
“This significantly increases our operational costs, as do additional protective gear and disinfectant,” he said. “But regardless of that, we have decided to keep the price of their eggs the same until after the Easter holidays. And now we will discuss this issue with all our partners while giving full consideration to the situation on the market.”
Despite the COVID, AGREKS is not giving up on introducing innovations in its production. They are staring with the construction of a new and the only facility in the BiH for the free-range production of eggs with 250,000 chickens.
"Our goal is to also start exporting table eggs to the EU,” Predrag said. “First and foremost, we want to regain access to the Croatian market, which we had until 2013 [when Croatia joined the EU]. And we will, therefore, continue to improve the quality of our products to meet all the EU standards. This is also good for our market as we will all enjoy better products."
Meanwhile, it is good to remember: One egg a day keeps the doctor away!