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Tijana Škorić Tomić, Gorda Co-founder And CEO

A Way To Remember

In order for Serbia to be branded as the home of ’rakija’ fruit brandies, we must all work together to establish qualitative standards for natural rakijas, combat the grey market and organise plum orchards, tourism content and, of course, communication itself

Today’s world brings constant challenges in the form of new technologies. Innovations. Human lifespans are longer than ever before. Medicine is advancing. The stars are now closer than we could ever have imagined.

Today’s world brings constant challenges in the form of new technologies. Innovations. Human lifespans are longer than ever before. Medicine is advancing. The stars are now closer than we could ever have imagined.

And yet, society is changing, just like life values, while the middle class is disappearing. The maturing generations are different. Changes are inevitable, and no one knows what they will bring. Great uncertainty and tension have been created and have become integral to the consumer environment, which has overwhelmed us all in a way.

All this serves to make the environment in which we communicate with our consumers and the entire community even more complex. Accordingly, as business leaders, we have our own personal responsibilities, but also a business/professional responsibility, to serve as an example of values in our own field and to really remember, every single day, that we are also guardians of the pillars of society. We bear part of the responsibility for the new generations that are maturing by mirroring our actions, adopting our views and learning from us.

We conducted research last year that shows that our consumers are among those who understand that you don’t have to travel far to enjoy yourself. These are people who know their roots, where they sprouted, what values they serve, and who still know best where they want to go. Our consumers expect high-quality and magic, they understand hedonism, but want it all in a bottle that suits the 21st century. Our people are also those who want to come here and familiarise themselves with Serbia, to climb Cvijić’s Peak, to get acquainted with Šumadija and the slopes of Rudnik, and to hear the history of our rebellious and hospitable people.

It is because of them that we redesigned our packaging after more than ten years. We wanted to thank them for their loyalty, leadership and orientation, both within and beyond the borders of Serbia. We owe them that.

This year, alongside Gorda plum, quince and apricot rakija, we also launched our apple rakija. This new addition is called Aron. Aron was Gorda’s husband.☺This product represents a hidden chapter in our story of Gorda. By combining the French style for the production of Calvados brandy and blending more than five varieties of our own apples, we are offering something completely different on the market. There will be more new additions before the end of the year, but we are extremely proud of this one. Our central focus is now on increasing our raw material base. It is in this direction that the logistics of our agronomists and technologists have been set. In contrast to other fruit crops, plums are planted without a great deal of organisation and planning, and almost every homestead has some sort of grove. The plum, with its various uses, is an integral part of Serbian life. However, there are no large, organised orchards. And this is precisely what’s needed in the future. Each micro site has its own specificities and requirements. The reality is that these are small, widely dispersed orchards, and on the whole they belong to old rural homesteads.

We are happy that we are nonetheless expanding our cooperation and that the number of suppliers is gradually increasing, together with the initiative to plant specifically for our needs, as a secure buyer. Furthermore, our team is developing a strategy for us to achieve more significant exports as a percentage of total sales, which we have established as a strategic five-year goal. Generating demand beyond the borders of Serbia is an enduring and demanding process that requires strategic state support.

In order for Serbia to be branded as the home of ’rakija’ fruit brandies, we must all work together to establish qualitative standards for natural rakijas, combat the grey market and organise plum orchards, tourism content and, of course, communication itself.

We are happy that willingness, desire and knowledge exist and that we can access them easily, both through cooperation with the Gornji Milanovac local government and through the support of the Faculty of Agriculture and the Fruit Research Institute in Čačak.

According to our internal estimates, the unregulated market is five to seven times larger than the market of organised and measurable income from rakija sales. The unregulated rakija market annually deprives the state of tens of millions of euros through unpaid duties.

In this land of fruit rakijas, you will be surprised to learn that excise duties on imported spirits, such as whisky or French cognac, were reduced recently. The assimilating of these excise duties renders those of us that produce a high-quality product from pure fruit less competitive.

Our country still ranks third in the world for plum production, while it is second in Europe for the production of quince. We believe that, with a good strategy to brand Serbia as the land of fruit rakijas, exports can achieve growth from last year’s total of just 12 million euros to 100 million euros over the next 10 years

The quality of Serbian fruit rakijas is better than that of strong imported spirits, but they cannot compete in terms of sales on foreign markets, because imported spirits are backed by powerful corporations, while our small producers are only backed by small domestic enterprises.

Our country still ranks third in the world for plum production, while it is second in Europe for the production of quince. We believe that, with a good strategy to brand Serbia as the land of fruit rakijas, exports can achieve growth from last year’s total of just 12 million euros to 100 million euros over the next 10 years.

Scotland provides the best example of a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, and Scottish cellars hold a wealth of whisky that’s worth more than the gold reserves of England.

On the flip side of that coin is Japan, an unexpected home of whisky that has succeeded in everything that we want to achieve in just a few decades, by creating a high-quality and recognisable product and becoming a world leader, launching a new tradition and writing its own story.

Micro distilleries have expanded unbelievably over the past decade and Serbia’s strength is that it really has an excellent offer of natural fruit rakijas.

We want to build a tradition whereby any mention of Serbia makes people think of fruit rakija.

After 20 years spent in a corporation, Gorda was a way for me to remember… A carefree childhood, days spent with grandma and grandpa, muddy feet, picking blackberries and elderberries, and summers that were seemingly endless. Children seek freedom, but the children that live within us are also striving to recall that they can once again be free.

In today’s times, there are no more homemade products even in homes that have the conditions required to live in such a healthy way. It used to be that the meadows of Rudnik that surround us were filled with shepherds, both children and adults, tending to their flocks. That is no longer the case. However, hope lives on, because some young people have returned to Čačak and helped to establish the small Moravian market that brings together local producers of food, knitwear and everything that’s old and new. We need all of this in order for us to really brand the Šumadija region. This is our Tuscany or Provence. And to me it’s even more beautiful to me.

Me and my team have allowed ourselves to believe that achieving success in business requires that you look into your heart. We together remembered that it is permitted to dream, to make mistakes, to build and to believe that we can offer our children at least the choice of a different way of life. And the freedom to choose is up to them.

The kids from Velereč who pick plums in our orchards bring a smile to my face. They are paid in ice cream. I want my son to believe that he can dream and live freely.

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