Today Fortenova Group has taken over the Osijek-based dairy production plant and as of 1st January 2021 Belje plus will thus continue its 70 years long tradition of producing dairy products in Osijek, employing 88 workers in the production.
The acquisition of assets of the former Meggle dairy in Osijek was realized in accordance with the agreement signed between Fortenova Group and Meggle Croatia on the sale and purchase of manufacturing assets, following the approval of the intended concentration in the production of dairy products for Belje plus by the Market Competition Agency. The raw material for Belje’s Osijek dairy will be delivered by 249 contractors, with the total daily delivery quantities estimated to amount to more than 20,000 litres of milk. The milk will be purchased at market price, which depends on the milk quality (class I and II), as well as milkfat and protein content. Belje will also pay factory premiums to the producers in accordance with the quantities of milk delivered.
„In the current circumstances, where we are witnessing tragedies of individual people and whole towns, securing the future by way of restoring not only facilities, but also economies, is the strongest message of optimism that we can send to the victims. Our acquisition of this facility in Osijek is one of such messages. With the expansion of dairy production at Fortenova Group we have secured the preservation of employment for a significant number of employees and the continuity of milk deliveries for contractors, while with the products of higher added value that we will produce in Osijek we shall also open a new development perspective for Slavonia and Baranja and even provide for additional employment going forward. Fortenova Group has realized this acquisition with a purpose and at the right time – besides the fact that customers increasingly prefer products made of local raw materials, the year 2020 finally saw the trend of the drastic decline in local milk production coming to an end and hence the new products leaving this facility will be an additional driver of growth in production quantities, reducing the quantities of milk imports to Croatia. I think that there is no better way to start a new year for a company, as well as for the entire community.” – said Fabris Peruško, Fortenova Group’s Chief Executive Officer on the occasion of formally taking over the Osijek dairy facilities.
“We are happy that the milk production and processing in Osijek and Slavonia will be continued. By reaching an agreement on selling the assets to Fortenova Group and Belje, Meggle Croatia and the Meggle Group have made it possible for the production and purchasing of raw milk from contractors to continue. This confirms that we have, as announced and initially promised, restructured the business in an as responsible and socially sensitive manner as possible. We have met all our obligations to the employees, contractors and all the other partners in time and in whole. We are grateful to all of them, as well as to the unions, the municipal and county authorities, the Ministry of Agriculture and the entire local community for their cooperation in this process and in the years behind. Although to a lesser extent, we shall continue to run our operations in Croatia in the same way as we have run them so far – we remain a responsible employer, a reliable business partner and an active member of the community”, said Marjan Vučak, President of the Management Board of Meggle Croatia.
“As of today, Belje has two dairy product factories – one in Beli Manastir and one in Osijek. In Beli Manastir we shall continue our production of ABC cheese, one of the region’s strongest brands, and in Osijek we are launching the production of milk and dairy products. We have a tradition, experience and know-how in production and it was only logical for Fortenova Group’s first investment to be in the production of dairy products. At the Osijek dairy we will continue the production for our customers with whom we have achieved placement agreements. Our new premium quality dairy product assortment, produced solely of milk of Croatian origin, will come to the market in early spring” – said Andrej Dean, President of the Management Board of Belje plus, pointing out that Belje would continuously work on improving the relations with its contractors.
The contractors of Belje’s Osijek dairy are mainly family farms (OPG’s) from Slavonia’s five counties, from Mohovo in the east to Čađavica in the west. Mostly, those are farms with a tradition in milk production of many years, with several generations of the family working there, taking great care of the animals, feed quality and milk quality.
Among them is also Josip Ostojčić, whose farm in the town of Prnjavor in the County of Slavonski Brod – Posavina features 30 milking cows with a daily production of 260 litres of milk. “Our family has been in agriculture since more than 60 years, this is our job and we are happy to continue the cooperation with the dairy plant in Osijek. Currently there are 3 generations working on the farm – my father and mother, my wife and I, our three daughters and our son, who attends the agriculture school and plans to take over the farm one day” – Ostojčić says.
That they are happy with continuing the cooperation with Belje and the Osijek dairy they also say at OPG Kraljik, which delivers up to 800 litres of milk daily, and at OPG Bojanić, producing around 400 litres of milk per day. “Our milk is produced in Slavonia and Baranja and it makes sense for it to be processed and packed at the Osijek dairy.”