Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Croatian Brands Zvijezda and PIK Vrbovec Partner Up With Mlinar

May the 17th, 2023 - The popular Croatian brands Zvijezda (star) and PIK Vrbovec have decided to team up in partnership with the much loved Mlinar. They have already announced three brand new products.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Mlinar, as one of the largest bakery groups within the Adria region that continuously innovates and follows trends, has recently been offering Planet of plants products in its assortment: burek, hot dogs made in puff pastry and a plant-based sandwich. In the first phase, the offer will be available at more than 70 Mlinar sales points throughout the Republic of Croatia, and in the second phase, it will be available in the entire Mlinar network and for other wholesale customers. This is the result of cooperation with the popular Croatian brands Zvijezda and PIK Vrbovec, which, several years ago, designed the very first Croatian line of plant-based products; Planet of plants.

Planet of plants burek contains pea protein instead of minced meat, and along with it, there is also a leafy one with a Planet of plants hot dog created on a plant-based basis which is made from pea protein and potatoes, with a side of mustard combined with a creamy sauce made of ginger, turmeric and cumin. The third product that can recently be found in Mlinar is a sandwich with salami made from sunflower protein, along enriched with egg-free mayonnaise.

"When we say plant-based, most people still think of vegans and vegetarians. However, the market shows that we're increasingly choosing plant-based foods, this even goes for all of us "others" for whom meat is still an important source of protein, but are ready to try something new and introduce new eating habits. Our strength lies in the experience of production based on the use of the power of plants, and we're glad that we have the opportunity to build the development of a new category of products together with consumers and create some new habits,'' said Gaspar Novak, the director of marketing and development of Zvijezda, which developed the line in synergy with PIK Vrbovec within the Fortenova Group.

Mlinar, on the other hand, stated that they always try to keep up with trends and offer their customers something new.

"Following the trends, cooperation with Planet of plants, as the first Croatian line of plant-based products, was a logical step forward. We combined tradition with innovation and offered our customers practical and tasty snacks at sales points throughout the Republic of Croatia. Burek is Mlinar's best-selling product of all, and we're glad that with this step into plant-based alternatives to meat, we've been able to further expand our offer," said Mario Scherr, Mlinar's executive director of marketing and retail.

In the Planet of plants line, in addition to the new bakery products that can now be found in Mlinar stores, there are a total of nine products: burgers, salami, minced meat, hot dogs, dumplings, mayonnaise, sauce, spread and coconut cubes. In addition to Croatia, these new products can be found on the markets of Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Hungary, and further expansion of placement on foreign markets is planned.

For more, check out our news section.

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

American Wine Enthusiast Gives 95 Points to Fakin Winery's Teran

May the 18th, 2023 - The American Wine Enthusiast magazine has given the wine made by one popular Fakin Winery in Istria an impressive 95 points. Fakin's Teran il Primo from 2019 is certainly winning people over across the pond in the USA.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Wine Enthusiast, the leading American expert magazine in the wine industry and one of the most influential of its sort in the world, rated Teran il Primo from the 2019 vintage of Istria's Fakin Winery with an impressive 95 points. The magazine both celebrates and promotes the innovation of individuals and companies that have significantly contributed to the success of the competitive wine world.

With this valuable recognition, Fakin's Teran il Primo from the 2019 vintage is the first teran on the US market with 95 points and was included in the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide for the month of May 2023, which is another great achievement from Marko Fakin and his young, authentic family winery from the village of Bataji at the foot of Motovun in Istria. The Fakin Winery continues to carve its way forward on both the American and domestic markets and position the native Teran variety as a world-class wine, proving the consistent quality of Istrian winemaking.

"I'm extremely honored that Wine Enthusiast, one of the world's most relevant wine magazines, whose evaluations have a great influence on the formation of the wine order on the international market, rated our Teran il Primo from the 2019 vintage with an amazing 95 points. I'm especially happy because Teran, my lifelong project and greatest pride and the most famous variety of the Motovun vineyard, has achieved such a respectable success as one of the most awarded Croatian wines in the world," said Marko Fakin.

Teran Il Primo is otherwise an elegant, top-quality wine which ensures its directness and reliability of taste, as well as the fullness and richness of the body through the precise selection of the highest quality hand-picked grapes from vineyards whose roots date back to 1972. Il Primo draws its uniqueness from the aging process done in oak barrels for 24 month periods. In addition to the extraordinary success of Il Primo, the Fakin Winery can add another high 93 points to its list for its Teran from the 2021 vintage and 90 points awarded to Malvasia (Malvazija) La Prima from 2020 to its opus in this year's Wine Enthusiast evaluation.

The love of Croatian wine across the pond is all furthered by the support of Croatian Premium Wine Imports, a company that imports and distributes Croatian wines in the USA. The co-founder of the company and the ambassador of Croatian wines in the USA, Mirena Bagur, strategically educates the market about Croatian varieties, thus creating a category of Croatian wines in American stores and restaurants.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Thinking of Emigrating? Why the Grass is Greener in Croatia

May 16, 2023 - Thinking of emigrating? Why the grass is greener in Croatia - a video from a presentation at the Zagreb FER Faculty of Engineering last week. 

I am often accused of being too positive about Croatia.

A little positivity never killed anyone, of course, but after 20 years of living here and being surrounded by the default negative Croatian mindset, I decided to start a YouTube channel looking at the brighter and more positive aspects of life here.

Two of the first videos I did were 8 Reasons Croatia is the Best Place to Live in Europe, and 10 Things Croatia Does Better than Anywhere Else. Both were very popular, and both attracted a lot of comment, some complimentary, some critical.

Having read the comments, I decided to offer a free presentation to any school or university faculty in Croatia in destinations that I would be visiting called "Thinking of Emigrating? Why the Grass is Greener in Croatia."

Perhaps, after 20 years here and having travelled to 96 countries and lived in ten, I had a slightly different perspective that students might be interested in hearing.

I have done several presentations on the topic since I made the offer, the most recent of which was at the FER Faculty of Engineering in Zagreb last week, who were kind enough to record the presentation so that it could be watched more widely. Here it is, in full.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

The Kindness of Strangers: Losing a Laptop in Zagreb, Croatia

May 16, 2023 - The kindness of strangers, a constant theme in Croatia.  Where else could you drop your laptop in the street and not realise until the next day and then be reunited with it?

Croatia is a very safe country, and female travellers in particular often comment on how much safer they feel walking around at night here than in cities in Western Europe.

It is also a country where I have heard countless stories over the years of tourists and expats leaving things such as their wallet in a cafe, only to return a couple of hours later and find it untouched, or behind the bar, waiting for their return.

I have my own experience, which I explain in this video - the day I somehow lost my laptop in Zagreb and didn't notice until the following morning in Varazdin.

And then I got a message from a stranger on Facebook...

The latest from the Fat Vlogger, which premieres at 19:53 tonight.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.



Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Levy Perfumes, Producer of World's Largest Perfume, Announces Mia

May 17, 2023 - Dejan Levačić, a perfume maker from Čakovec and owner of Levy Perfumes, made the world's largest bottle of perfume back in 2020, as covered by TCN. Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, standing at 1.91 metres in length, 0.82 metres across, and 0.46 metres wide, and holding 616.18 litres of perfume, the bottle shows a fragrant disregard for the norms of perfumery. 

Three years later, Dejan's business grew, and he notified us that his little daughter followed in his family's footsteps. His daughter Mia created her own bottle of luxury perfume, now available at the Levy Perfumes official website. Dejan seemed really proud, and the little one was so happy about her creation that we decided to find out more. Check out our interview with Dejan.

Can you share more about your company, what it's currently doing, etc.

Levy produces perfumes for its own brand Levy Perfumes but also offers the possibility of producing perfume for clients who want a personalized scent.

What ended up happening with the world's largest bottle of perfume? Do you still have it, or have you sold it?

The largest perfume bottle in the world has not yet been sold, and this project is in its final stages. We are currently negotiating with the agency that will offer it for sale.


Tell us about your daughter, how old she is, her hobbies, and her interests outside of the world of perfumes. 

Mia is 12 years old and is finishing the 6th grade of primary school. She is an avid fan of cosmetics, so she spends most of her free time following news and trends in that area. She likes to test recipes for natural cosmetics and design new scents. In addition, she helps a lot in the production process. She does simple jobs, but that way, she's learning the process from start to finish. She enjoys gymnastics, as well as other sports, such as football. She has a pet, a rabbit she named Hilja.

How did your daughter become interested and start thinking about creating her perfume?

Mia showed great interest in cosmetics from an early age. I knew how to talk to her about how I and my mother, Zlatica, got to know the production processes of cosmetics. My mother worked at the Pliva factory, where cosmetics were produced. Looking at our family photo albums, Mia and I talked a lot about it. In recent years, Mia has had a great wish to create her perfume. Her persistence and will enabled her to achieve it. She changed her mind a few times during the process but ultimately got the scent she wanted. She also decided on the bottle's design with her name printed in golden letters and a golden crown with diamonds as the cap.

What are her main interests when it comes to perfumes? Picking out the fragrances, designing the bottle, or something else?

She is mainly focused on designing the fragrance and the product's final look, which allows her creativity to shine.

Can you tell us more about Mia's perfume?

Mia perfume is a rhapsody of fruity floral notes for bold and ambitious women who take the initiative, but it also fits romantic souls. Notes of orchid, strawberry, mandarin, watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, peony, vanilla, jasmine, and wood notes are composed in this unique fragrance. The perfume was created in a limited edition of 100 glass bottles with a capacity of 50 ml. The cap is a golden crown with little stones resembling diamonds. Her name, Mia, is printed in gold letters on the bottle, which is then packed in a luxurious red box. The perfume contains 20% essence.

The price of the perfume is €100. Some bottles are reserved for regular customers who follow our work; the rest is for the market.


Will there be more from Levy perfumes with Mia's signature?

Considering her persistence and interest, there is a high probability that Mia is the first in a series of her perfume story.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Extreme Weather in Croatia Causes Problems Including Hail, Floods

May 16, 2023 - In recent days, extreme weather in Croatia has caused all sorts of problems. Storms and hail have destroyed buildings, including a kindergarten, and rivers have flooded entire towns. The rain is not expected to stop for the next seven to ten days either.

As Index writes, after 250 liters per square meter fell in just 24 hours, the water level of the Zrmanja River in Obrovac reached a historic 302 centimeters yesterday morning, which is 39 cm above the highest Zrmanja water level measured in that city. The water spilled onto the streets and made its way into the historic core. The situation is similar and also difficult in Gračac.

Meteorologists and Croatian Water authorities announced that today the situation is expected to become even more complicated, with more rain and the water levels of almost all rivers in Croatia rising.

"New forecasts from this morning indicated the possibility of large water waves in the Sava, Kupa, and Una rivers in the coming days. Very high water levels of the Kupa River are expected in the Karlovac, Petrinja and Sisak areas, and especially of the Una River in the Kostajnica area. The maximum water levels of the Kupa River in Karlovac and Una in Hrvatska Kostajnica are expected during Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at levels similar to December 2022. From the direction of Slovenia, the formation of a large water wave of the Sava River at a level of 1,800-2,000 m3/s is also expected on Wednesday, May 17. 2023", Croatian water authorities announced.

At least 59 houses were flooded in Gračac

Due to the configuration of the terrain, Gračac cannot defend itself with flood embankments because the water penetrates from the karst underground in many places and not from one direction.

The peak of the water wave in Karlovac and Hrvatska Kostajnica expected tomorrow

The Directorate of Civil Protection announced on Twitter that the maximum water levels of the Kupa River in Karlovac and the Una River in Hrvatska Kostajnica are expected on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. In addition, they warn that the formation of a large water wave of the Sava River is also expected from the direction of Slovenia.

Obrovac waterfront flooded

In Obrovac, the waterfront that was flooded. It was ceremonially opened 15 years ago by the then Minister of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure Božidar Kalmeta, who emphasized that it would ensure the town of Obrovac be safe from floods.

150 soldiers helping preparations for floods in Banovina as well

Around 150 members of the Croatian Army with the corresponding material resources are engaged in preparations for flood defense in parts of Sisak-Moslavina County - 100 soldiers in the area of Nova Drenčina and 50 soldiers in the area of Hrvatska Kostajnica.

Firefighters: interventions all around Croatia

A total of 226 different fire interventions were recorded in Croatia on May 14 and 15, involving a total of 735 firefighters with 275 fire engines.

By 5:00 p.m. in Zadar County, 47 technical interventions caused by storms were recorded through the Fire Intervention Management (UVI) application, which related to the pumping out of the water from buildings, the flooding of roads and yards, and in which 92 firefighters, with 51 vehicles participated.

During the evening and night near Gračac, there were 25 firefighters with eight vehicles from JVP, DVD Gračac, DVD Pakoštane-Vrgada-Vrana, and DVD Sv. Filip i Jakov and JVP Pag and the Intervention fire brigade Zadar with pumps, while in the area of Obrovac, 23 firefighters with six vehicles intervened.

Plenković: Big threats and challenges in the coming days

Prime Minister and HDZ president Andrej Plenković made a statement to the media after the session of the HDZ presidency.

He said they contacted Virovitica-Podravina, Zadar, Lika-Senj, and Karlovac counties. "All services are on the ground, including civil protection, police, and HV, to help defend against floods. The situation in Zadar County, in Obrovac and Gračac, is difficult," he stated.

"Unfortunately, the water is also expected to rise in other regions. There will be great threats and challenges in the coming days," the prime minister warned. He promised that the government would help repair the damage.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Young Croatian Startup Turneo's Product Already Desired in USA

May the 16th, 2023 - The very young Croatian startup Turneo hasn't even been on the market for a whole year yet, but despite that, their product is already being sought by the Americans.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, at an international level, the tourist experience market (at least the one that represents excursions, tours and attractions and is worth as much as 250 billion US dollars) has somehow remained "offline", and it's even managed to do so in the time of ubiquitous digitisation.

The reservation of what most people travel to different countries for still takes generally place in a more or less old-fashioned way - at hotel receptions, at travel agencies, at an organiser's office or stand... But the young Croatian startup Turneo, founded only in March 2022, wants to change all of that.

After half a year of work on the development of the platform, two friends and founders, Matija Marijan and Fran Kauzlaric, offered the market a B2B platform in August that brings together what was previously incompatible - hotels (sellers), organisers (those who offer experiences), and tourists. And doing that, according to these young entrepreneurs who left successful careers to start their own business, was a big, if not their biggest, challenge to date.

"We had to find a way to solve a problem for which no one has yet found a solution at the global level. So, out of nothing, we needed to create a functional platform that would be useful to all of the aforementioned groups. How demanding the task was for us was also showcased by the fact that Airbnb recently paused their "Airbnb Experiences" project, which was supposed to connect tourists with the local offer of tours and attractions. The Tour platform is different because it is oriented towards the business segment, i.e. hotels, apartments, campsites, etc., which, through Tour, can digitally offer their guests a selection of tours, activities, excursions, wellness treatments, etc.'' explained Marijan.

The fact that the creators of the Croatian startup Turneo is very much on the right track when it comes to conquering the market has been also shown by the fact that today, only nine months after entering the market, 39 hotels and about 30 organisers are using the platform. Most of them are Croatian clients, but hotels in Prague and even in distant Zanzibar are also now using it.

Investors were also quick to recognise the potential, and back at the beginning of this year, the Croatian startup Turneo received its first investment of 800,000 euros. That investment round was led by Ascension Ventures and Underline Ventures, with participation from Silicon Gardens and numerous angel investors. Their goal is to conquer the European market for now, but the potential is global.

The founders of the Croatian startup Turneo have pointed out that they already have some serious inquiries from across the pond in America, but they are still a small team, numbering a mere eight people, so their focus will be on Europe for some time yet. The largest part of the investment, as Marijan pointed out, will be invested in the development of the platform, as well as in the operational part of the business, i.e. the management of reservations, the overall user experience, requests and so on.

"We'll be constantly upgrading the platform in accordance with the experiences from the field," explained Matija. In addition to all of that, they 'e only now taking a bigger step into the market and the sales world, which they have not dealt with intensively as yet because they were primarily focused on development and their existing clients. The advantages of using their platform, according to Kauzlaric, are multiple.

"The main thing is the satisfaction of the guests. Guests who book a tour or a specific activity together with hotel accommodation are on average 18% more satisfied than guests who only book accommodation, TUI research has shown. This is also the main reason why hotels choose to use our platform. The next benefit is is that, from the commission on the sold tour or excursion, they generate additional income, and the third is that our service relieves the staff at the reception, because the guests now have all the information about additional activities on offer to them in one place, through the Tour application,'' he pointed out.

In addition, he added, organisers also profit from their platform, as they no longer have to go around hotels offering guests their activities and tours. "When an organiser connects to our platform, they're automatically connected to all the hotels within our network," explained Kauzlaric.

This small and ambitious team is also working on the automation of support for hotel guests in the experience segment through the Marc chatbot, which was created through the implementation of the controversial ChatGPT. They plan to offer this "virtual concierge" product, whose function is to advise tourists on what to do and see when on holiday in a certain place, to major global hotel chains.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Djuro Djakovic Contracts 9.5 Million EUR Job for GATX Rail Europe

May the 16th, 2023 - A company within the scope of well known and wider Croatian company Djuro Djakovic has contracted a job for GATX Rail Europe worth almost ten million euros.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Djuro Djakovic specijalna vozila (special vehicles), a company which operates within the wider Djuro Djakovic Group, has contracted a job totalling the aforementioned amount for GATX Rail Europe. It regards the production and delivery of freight wagons which the Slavonski Brod-based company will deliver to their client during the second half of this year.

It is worth noting that according to the data from this company's financial report for the first three months of 2023, the wildly successful Djuro Djakovic specijalna vozila branch enjoyed profits totalling 1.2 million euros and consolidated revenues of 23.1 million euros in the first quarter.

"Djuro Djakovic specijalna vozila managed to reach the company's planned level of production, sales and costs and achieved a positive net result overall. The EBITDA margin is 8.4 percent, while the net result was very strongly influenced by financial expenses.

The growth of the EBITDA margin in relation to 2022 was mostly contributed to by high levels of realisation mainly resulting from the delivery of 201 wagons in the first quarter of 2023 and the optimisation of the company's operating costs," the report stated.

As has been pointed out, this well known domestic company generates the majority of its revenues from exports, and this trend is expected to continue throughout this year and into the future as well, on top of that, the continuation of activities being carried out on additional business improvements is also expected.

For more on Croatian companies, innovation and entrepreneurs, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 15 May 2023

Massive Influx of Foreign Workers in Croatia in 2023

May 16, 2023 - According to the national employment office data, there has been a massive influx of foreign workers in Croatia, mainly from India, Nepal, and the Philippines.

As Poslovni / Večernji write, from the beginning of 2021 until May of this year, the Međimurje Police Department issued around 8,400 residence and work permits to foreign nationals.

Their number has been growing exponentially from year to year, so in 2021, 2,721 permits were issued, 4,195 were issued in 2022, and in the first four months of this year, 1,546 have already been issued. Looking at the total number of employees, Međimurje, which employs about 42,500 people, is probably the record holder in Croatia regarding the share of foreign workers, who now make up about five percent of the total population of this northernmost Croatian county.

If this pace continues, in five to ten years, a fifth of the inhabitants of Međimurje will be foreign citizens. The county, which faced massive emigration for temporary work abroad in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, is today a destination for foreign workers from Nepal, the Philippines, and India... They choose Međimurje because of good working conditions and vacancies employers usually cannot fill with domestic workers.

"The numbers have been growing rapidly. We have had a sudden increase. Local workers go abroad because they think it's better there, but in my opinion, and I know the situation in the world, that's not the case. But even though wages are slowly rising, soon there will be no employer who will not have to resort to hiring foreign workers", says entrepreneur Ivan Senčar, vice president of the economic and social council of Međimurje County.

According to the data from the Čakovec regional office of the Croatian Employment Service, the ten most sought-after occupations in 2022 and the first four months of 2023 have been locksmiths (280), waiters (214), cashiers(160), numerically controlled machine operators (159), welders (153), tailors (144), shoemakers (142), carpenters (140), truck drivers (119) and cooks (114). Mostly, therefore, these are vocational deficit occupations for which Croatia lacks an available labor force.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Monday, 15 May 2023

No Hot Water in Western Part of Zagreb for Next Three Weeks

May 16, 2023 - Due to unplanned works, the western part of Zagreb will remain with no hot water until the middle of the week. And considering that the planned works on the revitalization of Zagreb's hot water network continued yesterday - the residents of Gajevo, Staglišće, and Jarun will have no hot water until June 5, when the dilapidated hot water network along the Horvaćanska road will be restored.

More than 20 thousand households in the western part of Zagreb still have no hot water, writes Index. The repair of the rupture of the main pipeline that passes through this part of the Zagreb thermal power plant is in progress.

"The damage is quite large, and we don't know its extent yet. What I can say is that by Saturday morning, we pumped out the water thanks to the firefighters, and today we are working on cleaning, drying, dismantling, and inspecting the electric motor to avoid even greater damage," said Robert Krklec, director of HEP Proizvodnja, for HRT.

Works for another three weeks

When this is fixed, and hot water is released, it will not reach everyone in the western part of the city. Residents of Gajevo, Staglišće, and Jarun will have to wait another three weeks because that's how long the announced works on the hot water network will last, which are planned from today when the heating season officially ends.

"Generally, it is part of the hot water pipeline that is the oldest and most prone to cracks, and the annual works started with Horvaćanska," said Jurica Brnas from HEP Toplinarstvo.

Twenty-two kilometers of dilapidated hot water network will be replaced along Horvaćanska cesta all the way to Street Hrvatskog Sokola.

"The interruption of delivery will last three weeks. We strive to organize construction sites so that if the works are more extensive, the delivery is interrupted in several stages for three weeks each so that consumers have as much opportunity as possible to use consumable hot water," explains Brnac.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

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