The beginning of Belje dates back to the year 1697 when prince Eugene of Savoy was given by Emperor Leopld I a beautiful, although rather devastated estate in the south of Baranja as a reward for his numerous military achievements and victories, especially against the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Zenta.
The estate located at the confluence of the rivers Drava and Danube, in the south of the Baranja region was organized by Eugene of Savoy in the western style. It had a director and the headquarters were located in the village Bilje.
The Hungarian name of the village was Bellye and this is how the estate got the name Belje. Eugene of Savoy had a countryside mansion built in Bilje and this is culturally and historically the most famous castle in the Baranja region today. It is located at the edge of the marshland area known under the name Kopacki rit. It is surmised that the architect who built the mansion was the Austrian architect, Johan Lucas von Hildebrandt, who for Eugene Savoy built that famous palace Belvedere in Vienna. At that time, numerous villages were included into the Belje estate ( Branjin Vrh, Luc, Kamenac, Podolje, Bilje, Kopacevo, Vardarac, Lug, Knezevi Vinogradi, Suza, Kotlina, Zmajevac, Draz, Gajic, Topolje, Duboševica, Majš, Branjina, Popovac and Vilany). After the rebuilding of the villages, the new inhabitants came from the west.
Following the death (in Vienna on April 21, 1736) of Eugene of Savoy, the knight recognized in Europe, the estate was inherited by Queen Elisabeth and later Queen Maria Theresa of Austria. It was under the administration of Vienna chamber until 1775. During that period almost all of the arable land in the possession of Belje was ranked as the best quality soil.
Maria Theresa gives Belje to her daughter Maria Christina and her husband Albert as a gift. The property was to be given over to another member of the family in the event that the couple does not leave behind a male heir.
Since Maria Christina and her husband did not have an heir, Belje property was given to Karl Ludwig, who proclaimed it the inalienable estate. At that time the estate covered the area of 765.68 km2. The seat was moved from Bilje to Knezevo and it remained there for the next 110 years.
In his report from 1824, a senior civil servant at the Belje estate states that this estate had a good climate and position ( at the navigable river Danube), a good soil for the growth of all kinds of plants and wheat, for orchards, cattle-breeding, fishery, forestry, hunting etc.
Local people have significantly improved these natural resources with their labor and investment. In the times when feudalism was abolished and huge changes in society and economy occurred, the Belje estate was taken over by Archduke Albrecht, the successor of Karl Ludwig.
Data about the Belje vineyards give evidence about the size and the progressiveness of the estate. The size of Belje vineyards is the result of good location on the slopes of Banovo brdo, which is very suitable for cultivation of vine. The lands included the most important wine-growing districts, judging by both the quality and the quantity. In the year 1850 on the Belje estate in total 39,515.57 hl of wine were produced, and in Villany there was a steam distillery.
Another steam mill was in ceminac, and since 1857 the new steam mill was used in Knezevo. In 1858 an English steam threshing machine with 8 hp was put into operation. In cattle-breeding on the Belje estate, sheep farming dominated, while the number of pigs, horses and cows was equal. According to the records from the year 1852, there were 753 stables, and on Belje farms there was a total of 58,303 animals.
Facilities for agricultural products processing were built on the Belje complex - a sugar factory in Branjin Vrh and a dairy plant in Beli Manastir. The dairy plant was at that time one of the most state-of-the-art plants for milk processing with the capacity of over 22,000 liters of milk a day. As a part of the dairy, the slaughterhouse and a salami plant was built. Both plants shared the refrigeration unit. The same year the new mill was built in Beli Manastir with the capacity of 24 tons a day.
Belje was proclaimed state ownership by the law. This law stated that the big Belje estate in Baranja and the Sugar factory in Branjin Vrh as inseparable parts of the estate, are transformed into government-owned property, which is going to be cultivated and exploited by the state government.
In these years the narrow-gauge railroad which used to connect all administrative buildings and settlements on the Belje estate, was finished.
During the Second World War, Belje was devastated and destroyed. After the liberation of Baranja, great efforts were made to restore the production. Belje changed various organizational forms and in 1953 was organized as the first state farm in the region – The industrial and agricultural collective enterprise Belje.
In that time the meat-processing plant was built in order to finalize the livestock production, and to increase exports. The dairy plant in Beli Manastir was reconstructed and the maintenance workshop became Farm machinery plant.
Belje has built a new irrigation system, the sowing structure was adapted to the needs of business, and the main crops were wheat, corn and sugar beet. At that time, a plant for drying and final processing of corn was built. A major part of the production was exported. In the cattle-breeding segment, a modern dairy-cow farm was built in Popovac in 1984 with a capacity of 938 cattle with free grazing. Belje food industry launched the fresh cream cheeses under the name ABC.
This was the time of big democratic changes in the country, of the Serb aggression and occupation of Baranja and Belje. Between 1991 and 1998 there were no investments into the economy, the fields were left uncared-for, production stopped in many plants, the livestock was devastated, the buildings and houses on the Belje estate were destroyed.
Belje become a part of Agrokor concern on March 21, 2005. Since then Belje has built its future as a part of the biggest food production concern in this part of Europe. With the introduction of the most sophisticated technologies, it is involved in the production of health food, application of environmental standards, and is today a fully market-oriented company.