Mihailo Janković, CEO of Nectar

20 Years of Nectar: Two Decades Of Family Success

From a small family business established in 1998 to a regional leader in the production of fruit juices in 2018, NECTAR has undergone a 20-year journey and marks its jubilee with impressive results: more than a billion euros of gross value added in Serbia since its establishment, 5,500 jobs in its value system and a large number of brands - all under the slogan “It does matter”

Mihailo Janković, CEO of Nectar

As the largest producer of fruit juices in Serbia, with a 30% market share, Nectar increased its share of the regional juice market to 22% with its acquisition of Slovenia’s Fructal in 2011 and now generates revenues exceeding 100 million euros annually.

How would you, as succinctly as possible, describe the chronology of the Nectar Group’s success; and what were the crucial junctures along the way?

Nectar has recorded constant growth over the course of the past two decades, always operating at a profit and making great advances for the Serbian economy through the acquisition and successful operating of Fructal, a company from the European Union market. If we were to define that 20 years of consistency, then it would be based on the family values of the founders and owners, the Radun family; values that have been transferred to their extended family – company Nectar.

The company emerged in the way common to German Mittelstand or Italian medium-sized companies so that basic DNA of our company led to dynamic and aggressive growth, a speed of innovation and abilities to adapt to market demands, but also to acquisitions in Serbia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia.

We are proud that all decisions are taken exclusively in Serbia. Nectar’s acquisition of Fructal is one of the rare direct investments in Slovenia from Serbia and – at a volume of 50 million euros – is among the largest.

What’s the capacity of Nectar’s production today?

The Nectar Group has the highest capacity for primary fruit processing in the region, exceeding 120,000 tonnes annually, with 95% of processing carried out at three locations in Serbia – Vladičin Han, Bačka Palanka and Arilje. We have a total of six production facilities in three countries (Serbia, Macedonia and Slovenia), with a large number of state-of-the-art plant lines for the processing and production of fruits and vegetables.

As Nectar-Fructal, we are ranked as the eighth strongest brand on the Valicon List of the top 25 brands in the region of the former Yugoslavia. That list is dominated by global brands, which makes it even more of a success that we are included in this prestigious group.

Nectar has recorded constant growth over the course of the past two decades, always operating at a profit and making great advances for the Serbian economy through the acquisition and successful operating of Fructal, a company from the European Union market

You say that your acquisition of Fructal was like graduating from high school. How did you pass this test of maturity?

At the end of 2011, Nectar acquired a majority stake in Fructal in a fierce market battle that included more than 10 reputable competitors. Now, seven years on, we can say with satisfaction that we won!

The acquisition of Fructal enabled Nectar to establish a long-term partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which supported us with a loan of 35 million euros. All obligations towards the EBRD have been met throughout all these years, and Fructal has become an indispensable member of the Nectar family.

The Nectar Group’s annual sales figures have constantly exceeded €100 million since 2012. In 20 years of operations, you’ve generated sales revenue of more than €1.1 billion and an operating profit of €200 million. Which business standards have led you throughout all these years?

Mihailo Janković, CEO of NectarWe’ve invested and innovated constantly. We invested more than €100 million in facilities, equipment and acquisitions.

More than 95% of cumulative profits, totalling almost 80 million euros, have been invested over the course of the past two decades. We’ve built relationships with farmers very carefully because it’s important for us to know who we buy fruits and vegetables from for the needs of our products.

In 2017 alone, we bought 68,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables. Each year we pre-finance more than 1,300 farmers while cooperating indirectly with over 10,000 fruit cultivators. Apples, peaches, cherries and tomatoes account for over 80% of total purchases in the structure. Every sixth apple that remains in Serbia is processed at a Nectar plant.

The Nectar Group possesses over 30 brands and 743 individual products. What are all the product categories represented?

Our products are classified into four categories – food, juices, water and alcoholic beverages. Nectar’s first ever product was apple vinegar. We are particularly proud of our positive impacts on consumer trends in introducing healthy habits to Serbia. We don’t compromise on quality and have introduced – through innovation, market research and development – as many as 68 of our own innovations and three new state-of-the-art lines for the production of small packages in the last five years.

The umbrella brand of Nectar spent years developing various brands within the Nectar family – Family, Life, Tomatelo, Džem (Jam), Ekstra Džem, Booster, Buzz, Kids… Throughout all this time, we’ve been protecting and improving our acquired brands of Fructal, Frutek, Frutabel and Heba.

Nectar invests a lot in its corporate social responsibility. You’ve invested over €800,000 in CSR projects in Serbia since 2014 alone. Which of your activities are you particularly proud of?

Our biggest single action was “It does matter when babies come”, through which we donated significant funds for the reconstruction of the department for artificial insemination at the Narodni Front Maternity Hospital in Belgrade.

We are proud that the conditions have been created to increase many times the number of couples who have the opportunity to undergo artificial insemination procedures in Serbia.

Nectar is also a long-time sponsor of the Basketball Federation of Serbia with its Heba brand. In 2017 alone, we donated funds to 100 organisations in Serbia that require funding, with a special focus on the communities in which we have production facilities.

In the first 20 years we’ve conquered the markets of the former Yugoslavia, in the next 20 we’ll conquer the global market. We want to continue to be a company that nurtures family values, and to achieve annual revenue of €500 million

You recently formed a strategic partnership with the Nelt Group. What benefits do you expect from this cooperation?

We decided to cooperate with NELT in the domain of logistics services. Nelt has excellent management and top logistics capacities and we believe that through this cooperation we will improve our operational level even further towards our customers and impact positively on Nectar’s operations in Serbia.

Given that the first 20 years have been extremely successful, it is to be expected that Nectar’s plans for the next 20 years will be even more ambitious. In which direction will your future activities be focused?

In the first 20 years, we’ve conquered the markets of the former Yugoslavia and are today present on six continents and in 60 countries. In the next 20, we’ll conquer the global market.

We want to continue to be a company that nurtures family values. We want to achieve annual revenue of €500 million; to create five billion euros of gross value added in Serbia within our value system; for our value system to engage more than 10,000 full-time employees. We want to have exported to over 100 countries worldwide, for every second apple that remains in Serbia being processed at Nectar, to become a regional leader in the production of healthy food and a global player in the production of juices.

And in everything we do we want to remain faithful to our ‘it does matter’ business philosophy.