Sunday, 17 July 2022

Belje Wins Two Gold Medals for Much Loved Slavonian Delicacies

July the 17th, 2022 - Belje has won two gold medals for its much loved Slavonian delicacies, shining a well-earned and very much deserved spotlight on the products from the often wrongly overlooked Eastern Croatia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at the Faculty of Agrobiotechnical Sciences in the City of Osijek, the very first kulen quality assessment was held in the organisation of this scientific institution, which is a long-term partner of both small family farms (OPGs) and large producers in the standardisation and improvement of kulen production. Kulen is just one of the many Slavonian delicacies which has been winning over hearts for decades.

Belje sent its premium kulen from the Crna Slavonska (Black Slavonian) and Baranjski kulen (Baranja kulen) lines with a designation of geographical origin for evaluation. Both of these products absolutely delighted the jury, which awarded them gold medals for their high quality.

"Each piece of kulen that comes from our production is dealt with by hand, as is the case with all of the family farms. We make our Baranjski kulen according to strictly defined protection specifications, and as such, we proudly highlight our European blue ZOZP stamp on every single piece of it. It's a production that lasts about four months in total and during which we carefully monitor all stages, from start to finish. We also produce kulen from Black Slavonian pigs, which we raise on our pastures in the Kopacki Rit Nature Park," said Ljiljana Vajda-Mlinacek, Belje's head of corporate communications.

Goran Kusec, a professor at FAZOS (the aforementioned scientific institution in Osijek) and one of the best connoisseurs of kulen in all of the Republic of Croatia, commented on the evaluation and the quality of the samples sent for evaluation.

"For many years now, together with my colleagues from the Faculty of Food Technology, I've been evaluating kulen throughout the Eastern Croatian regions of Slavonia and Baranja. This year, we decided that the time had come to organise a proper evaluation within a large scientific institution, such as our faculty, in order to further emphasise the importance of kulen and its production for the entire region. 33 kulen samples from all five Slavonian counties took part in the evaluation and all of them were excellent. We evaluated the cut, taste and smell of kulen according to international standards and norms,'' concluded Kusec when discussing these Slavonian delicacies which more than deserve the limelight.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Made in Croatia section.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Queen Cow: Croatian Branding of Belje Kravica Kraljica Milk Proves Hit

January the 17th, 2022 - Queen Cow (Kravica kraljica) is a brand of Croatian milk from Belje which has experienced excellent market success a mere six months of it being launched.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, from the concerning stagnation of the Croatian dairy industry, to the fastest growing brand in the country. The success story of Queen Cow is impressive, with a very happy ending to top it all off at the end of last year. Queen Cow's producer, Belje, according to research by Gfk Hrvatska, achieved exceptional market success only six months after its launch, with the product reaching every fifth household in the country.

Back at the end of pandemic-dominated 2020, the dairy industry in Osijek was saved by Belje, which took over 249 subcontractors, farmers who supplied raw milk. Since then, the company has started from scratch with a new dairy range, and wanted to offer the new brand as an indicator of a new start in the production of 100 percent Croatian milk.

The brand development project, which currently includes 13 different products in 16 packages, has been entrusted to one of the leading integrated marketing agencies in Croatia.

Pro media group and its PR agency Impressum Komunikacije (communications), which, in cooperation with Belje, created a dairy brand different from the previous ones. Most of the milk on the Croatian market doesn't stand out in terms of its image from any other. Why not include the stronger presence of the animal we have to thank for milk? The cow, the animal that provides one of the most basic foods and a pure natural resource. The cow therefore occupies a central place in communication and on the packaging of these Belje Queen Cow products, from milk to yogurt.

Radovan Klaic, the director of Impressum Communications, Ivona Zec, community manager, and Tihana Tojcic, the account director, talked about how the creative process went, creating a completely new brand and visual identity and communication campaign for Queen Cow.

The creative trio from the Pro media group consisted of the main designers in the team, Srdjan Vrdoljak and Boris Poljicanin, as well as the creative director of the group, Igor Skunca.

"We have new products, a whole new line, we're entering a new market segment, we need something to shake the market up and set some new standards in the category…", said Igor Škunca, adding that it was fun to create the entire Queen Cow brand with all its new visuals and packaging, for which he attributes the credit to a great team of collaborators.

“We immediately realised that Belje wants and needs something different for its new dairy brand, something more urban and modern, something a bit more funky, which attracts attention, but with a clear message about the milk having come from real Croatian farms. From real cows. We could see that they required a form of communication that would be different from the usual for the dairy industry. Only with such a story can you make some significant impact in the segment where you need to create a place among strong traditional brands. Feedback from the market shows that together with the team from Belje, we've found the right formula,'' added Klaic.

When asked who came up with the Queen Cow brand name, Vrdoljak said: “Queen Cow was uttered by someone, I don't remember who, they just said it during one of the meetings where the brand was developed, and it resounded like one of those eureka moments where we all nodded our heads. We had to emphasise who she was, with a crown, as she's a queen after all, while the hipster glasses are there so that she can see what all the other cows are doing,'' he said.

Queen Cow is shown differently on each of their products - the cooking cream sees her wearing a chef's hat, the Greek yogurt has her wearing a laurel wreath, the yoghurt pictures here wearing a scarf…. Each is related to the product it represents. Account Director Tihana Tojcic added that the challenge was even greater because today, agencies rarely get such an opportunity to develop brands in the FMCG industry from scratch.

''Given that about three quarters of the market share in the Croatian dairy industry has been held by two big "players" for years, and consumers are increasingly turning to mini dairies and family farms, it really took time to think about what sort of position Belje and Queen Cow would take in such a competitive environment. It was important for us to stand out as much as possible with our packaging design on basically unexciting shelves full of dairy products. That's why the success of this brand is something we're really proud of,'' explained Tojcic.

Ivona Zec, the community manager at Impressum Communications, made sure that the new product got its place on social media through memorable messages. In addition to creating a communication strategy on social media, her role includes copywriting and community management.

“One of the challenges was to find a tone of communication to show that this brand stands out in relation to the competition and, of course, to design visual and textual content that engages the audience. The cows managed to activate their fans as their names were given to them through creative competitions on social media,'' said Ivona.

According to Hrvoje Rados, director of sales and marketing of Belje, Belje has made "maximum efforts to market Queen Cow products in a short time and design a marketing campaign which would be interesting to all categories of customers because these are products we all consume on a daily basis."

The fact that a great job was done was confirmed by Queen Cow's more than good reception on the market, confirmed by the aforementioned GfK research.

Queen Cow almost took the throne in its very first year of existence, and the President of the Board of Belje, Andrej Dean, expressed his satisfaction with the fact that consumers have shown and recognised the brand, because, as he says, Belje guarantees the traceability of all production, from farm to packaging on store shelves. Annually, Belje produces 58 million litres of domestic milk, from more than 7,500 cows across five counties in Slavonia.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Osijek Belje Factory Retains Employees, Creates Own Queen Cow Milk Brand

April the 23rd, 2021 - The Queen Cow milk brand (Kravica kraljica) is the newest Croatian milk brand to come out of a successful year for the Osijek Belje factory which managed to retain most of its workforce despite the economic woes caused by the pandemic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, if you've been following the business news in Croatia you'll likely recall that not so long ago, a relatively well known company called Belje took over the Osijek-based Meggle dairy factory, managing to keep hold of about 250 subcontractors and about 90 employees, according to a report from

The factory was successfully saved during turbulent times for all and even started producing something new, the aforementioned Queen Cow milk brand (Kravica kraljica). This week, this new Croatian milk finally hit the shelves of numerous stores.

Belje Plus CEO Andrej Dean also revealed recently that it is "the only one in Croatia that has more than 4,000 cows in its own production, thus providing more than 35 million litres of milk to the public from its own sources.''

In addition, the company Vupik from the wider Fortenova Group (formerly Agrokor) produces an additional 12 million litres, and with another 13 million litres from subcontractors, meaning that they have a total of more than 58 million litres of milk per year.

This also means that Belje's other products, such as their popular cheeses and spreads, are made one hundred percent from Croatian milk. The Osijek Belje factory is now busy and planning new investments worth 10 million euros.

To briefly recall, Belje took over the factory in Osijek at the end of last year because Meggle decided to withdraw from the Republic of Croatia. Before announcing its departure, Meggle had about 270 subcontractors and about 160 employees.

For much more on Croatian companies and domestic products, make sure to follow our dedicated business section.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Is Belje Purchasing Meggle and Keeping 70% of Employees in Osijek?

As Novac/Nikola Patkovic writes on the 21st of October, 2020, milk processing and production in Osijek will not be shut down on December the 31st, 2020. Instead, the Osijek milk factory, currently called Meggle, will start operating in the system of the Fortenova Group on the first day of the new year, under the name of their company Belje Plus, which will buy the Osijek factory.

Thus, the crisis, which occurred three months ago when the German Meggle announced that it was ending its production in Osijek and Croatia at the end of this year, will still have a happy epilogue, because the factory will not close, and the ''victims'' of the decision will eventually be minimal. Although neither Fortenova, ie Belje, nor Meggle want to officially confirm that an agreement has been reached, according to unofficial information, the "ironing out" of the last details is currently in progress, but the majority of the agreement has been reached. Belje will thus keep up to 70 percent of Meggle's 160 workers and continue processing and milk production in the Eastern city of Osijek, some workers will probably retire early, and some of them will be offered jobs in one of the other business units by Belje. Additionally, they plan to take over all subcontractors who want to continue working with them, and there are 282 of them.

The agreement

''The agreement is nearing its end and the last details are being agreed on. It's also important that Meggle keeps its promise that it will keep hold of all of its workers until the end of the year and pay them their salaries, and after that it will pay them the agreed severance pay,'' a person familiar with the negotiations between Belje and Meggle revealed.

It's worth reminding ourselves of the fact that Meggle's announcement that it is leaving Osijek and Croatia caused a big shock in Slavonia, which is already economically devastated and for which the closing of the factory with 160 jobs would be an additional blow/ Osijek-Baranja County Prefect Ivan Anusic was especially fierce at the time, saying that he was ready to initiate various types of pressure on Meggle because of such a decision. However, high-level meetings followed in the following days, in which the Croatian Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, joined in, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic supported finding a solution that would preserve the 71-year tradition of Osijek's dairy industry. Anusic announced a few weeks ago that the end of negotiations on the takeover of Meggle was in sight.

''Talks with Meggle are over. Meggle is leaving, but 65 to 75 percent of workers will stay working. We'll take care of the other workers. Production will continue in Meggle's plants, and the details should be reported to the public by those who led the negotiations,'' said Anusic two weeks ago on HRT's Otvoreno/Open show. Even now, he didn't want to go into details until the company itself announces them.

Meggle responded to an inquiry by saying that they "have made great efforts to ensure a positive outcome of the talks with several potentially interested companies. The negotiations are at a very high stage, but without the consent of other parties and given the obligation of confidentiality, we can't give you more information ".

Dukat also showed interest in buying Meggle, and the owner of Zito, Marko Pipunic, once said that he was interested, but there were no negotiations on the matter. When it comes to the workers, it is known that the unions have agreed with Meggle's management on their severance pay, which is 25 percent more than the legal obligation, and a total of eight million kuna has been provided for them.

More than 4000 cows

Belje, by the way, also has a dairy cattle farm with more than 4,000 cows that produce 35 million litres of milk a year, as well as a dairy factory where famous Belje cheeses are prepared. With this acquisition, Belje will increase its share of milk purchases on the Croatian market from 11 to 16 percent, but will still remain the third player on that scene, where two thirds of the market is held by Dukat with 42 percent and Vindija with 29 percent.

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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Agrokor's Shares Continue to Grow

Some signs of long awaited recovery in Agrokor as shares belonging to the ailing company continue to grow strongly.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Todorić: ''Hybrid War Against Croatia Being Driven by Government and Ramljak''

According to Ivica Todorić, the apparent hybrid war facing Croatia is all at the hands of the government and of course, Agrokor's extraordinary commissioner...

Friday, 17 November 2017

Agrokor Indebted by 700 Million Kuna to Towns and Municipalities

It isn't just creditors who are hungry for their money back...

Monday, 30 January 2017

Authentic Croatian Flavours Presented to German Customers

Agrolaguna and Belje took part in a fair in Berlin.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Croatian Food Products Expanding to Asia

Companies from Croatia participated in the Hong Kong Food Festival.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

It is Grape Harvest Time in Croatia: The Rolling Belje Vineyards in Baranja

From the small family picker to the mechanical harvester, Croatians are in their fields. The view from Belje in Baranja.