'Let's Buy Croatian' in Focus: Medicines and Cosmetics from Ljekarne Zagrebačke županije

By 5 October 2017

It is 20 years since the then Croatian  Chamber of Commerce (today's Chamber of Economy) launched an initiative, Kupujmo Hrvatkso (Let's Buy Croatian), which has been a successful attempt to promote local Croatian producers and educate buyers into looking at the quality on offer by buying Croatian. A TCN mini-series begins on October 5, 2017, looking at some Croatian companies of excellence, from various sectors of industry. 

I have been fortunate to have spent most of my adult life in the central and eastern parts of Europe at a time of incredible change in the lives of local residents and in the economies of these newly democratic countries. It has been a fascinating experience, coming as I do from a stable pre-Brexit world in Manchester, and the resilience and adaptability to war, tragedy and upheaval by the people of these regions has been nothing short of inspirational. 

The great changes brought Western 'culture' much closer to people in these former socialist countries, and the flooding of Western goods and values followed into every liberated country, as locals spent hard-earned savings to get their hands on symbols of Western capitalism, from Levi's jeans to a Big Mac. If it came from the West, it was cool (at least back them) and if it was locally produced, it was often treated with disdain. 


Croatia has always seemed a little different to other countries I have lived in, where the people are proud of their newly independent country, proud of its successes and proud of the things it produces. Of course, that pride manifests itself when you are a guest in someone's house, where you are wined and dine with everything 'domaci' (homemade), from the welcoming rakija to almost everything on the dinner plate in some cases. 

This pride in domestic produce is perhaps best personified in an excellent initiative from the Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK) called 'Kupujmo Hrvatsko' (Let's Buy Croatian), which last month celebrated 20 years since its inception with a two-day fair of Croatia's finest producers showcasing their  wares on Ban Jelacic Square and European Square in Zagreb, as previously reported on TCN.  


The HGK initiative was a rallying call for people to buy local, to preserve and create jobs and to boost the economy. Through its 20-year history, the campaign has helped keep the concept of buying Croatian in the public eye, as well as promoting lesser-known producers and their excellent products, which are often better quality and considerably cheaper than preferred Western brands. By continuing to push the message of Croatian excellent and quality, the campaign has helped to boost the manufacturing base and sales results of many smaller Croatian companies. 

During my time and travels through Croatia, I have been constantly impressed and amazed by the creativity and innovation of the workforce in Croatia, much of which is in the form of small companies and sole traders. If I had a million to spend on a car, then I could purchase perhaps the best symbol of Croatian manufacturing excellence, the Rimac Automobili Concept One (and be careful not to crash it on my first drive, unlike a BBC motoring correspondent I could mention), but the reality is that Croatia has outstanding producers in a wide variety of sectors, whose presence on the national - and international - markets could be improved further with a little more promotion. 


We begin our tour of Croatian excellence with a company whose focus is on natural products. Nature is one of the strongest brands Croatia has to offer - its Mediterranean diet is now intangible UNESCO heritage, more than 10% of its surface is given over to national and nature parks, and its pristine Adriatic sea is among the cleanest in the world. Croatians love nature, love their locally available local food, and have a lifestyle which is far more nature-based than supposedly more sophisticated countries. 


Expensive cosmetics and healthcare products were at the forefront of that early Western invasion, but Croatia has high-quality competition for the more established international brands in the form of Ljekarne Zagrebačke županije, a company founded in 2013 and trading as Bioteka Zagrebačke županije d.o.o. Bioteka is made up of a team of a young team of pharmacists and nature lovers, who have incorporated the latest trends in natural cosmetics into cosmetic preparations which with their quality and innovation provide skin with care and pleasure.


Bioteka is a specialised store that sells medicines and medical products, such as natural cosmetic products (Dr. Stribor Cosmetics), dietary supplements, diagnostic tests and kits, hydrolates (herbal or floral waters), probiotics, sun protection products, homeopathy remedies and even medical footwear (slippers, clogs etc).

The products are made in accordance with the Cosmetic Organic and Natural Standard guidelines without using parabens, phenoxyethanol and petroleum products (petroleum jelly, paraffin).

The main brand of Bioteka is Dr. Stribor, which specialises in high quality, natural creams and other cosmetic products, such as serum drops, boosters and face waters.


Dr. Stribor skin care products are the result of rich pharmacological experience, vast knowledge, innovation and the latest technological trends in natural cosmetics and love of nature, with the aim satisfying of the increasingly demanding needs of customers.

The products are made in accordance with the Cosmetic Organic and Natural Standard guidelines without using parabens, phenoxyethanol and petroleum products (petroleum jelly, paraffin).

Dr.Stribor cosmetics consists of a basic line and an exclusive line of products.


The basic line consists of two moisturising creams - Vanilla & Orange moisturising cream for normal to mixed facial skin and Rose & Argan nourishing cream for dry skin - and two dermocosmetic products, SOS cream with primrose and witch hazel - a lanolin cream for extremely dry and damaged skin prone to atopy and Dermaplanta balm made to regenerate the skin from minor burns, surface injuries, decubitus (prevention), cuts etc.

The exclusive line consists of three different tonics (face waters), hyaluronic serum and oil booster: Gold & Rose, Germanium & Neroli and Zinc & Neroli moisturizing tonics, Echium gamma booster serum for dry skin, which does not contain essential oils and has a natural smell. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, made from the plant called candlenut that regenerates the skin.


Serum Ag-Au/CP is an innovative combination of three types of hyaluronic acid with silver and gold that hydrates and tighten facial skin. This product was the winner of the Cosmopolitan Beauty Awards 2016 for the best product in the category of natural cosmetics voted by the jury.

Bioteka has built up an impressive national sales network, and Dr. Stribor products are now available in stores all over the country (see list here), while much of its trade comes from online sales, and all Bioteka products are available on a well-organised online shop. The company also maintains a specialist store at Mokrička 54, Zaprešić, from where products are distributed to other pharmacies and wholesalers.


In an email request to the company, I asked them about the importance of ingredients:

"The emphasis is on exquisite and high-quality ingredients without parabens, phenoxyethanol and oil derivatives. There was no compromise on the ingredients selection and we decided to use only these ingredients:

High quality, cold-pressed, unrefined vegetable oils rich in many curative substances

Concentrated herbal extracts obtained by a modern technology in extraction

Modern natural emulsifiers

Chemotype essential oils

Luxury fragrances / active ingredients

Natural anti-oxidation and microbiological deterioration protection systems

Innovative cosmetic raw materials for better texture and absorption according to rigorous standards of green chemistry."

Natural. Quality. Croatian. Learn more about the Bioteka range of products on the official website, and learn how buying Croatian can improve your health and appearance.