Italian Company Besana Strengthening Position in Croatia

Lauren Simmonds

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As Novac/Nikola Patkovic writes, the Italian company Besana is the third strongest European enterprise engaged in the production and processing of nuts and dried fruits. This year marks the 100th anniversary of its work and existence, and it has decided to further strengthen its position in the production of nuts in Croatia, where they have been present for 25 years, but also to help interested small and medium Croatian producers in the development of their own family farms.

The Italian company Besana currently has 50 subcontractors located in Croatia, from whom it buys about 100 tonnes of hazelnuts per year, but much more is being aimed for.

Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Calcagni is the owner of this large Italian family company which was founded back in 1921 on volcanic soil at the foot of Mount Vesuvius by his ancestors, and its name came from his mother’s side. He explained that the Italian company Besana could easily support the work of 200 subcontractors across Croatia and purchase all of the crops from their orchards. In addition, they’re ready to offer professional and advisory assistance to all those who are interested, as well as help in the procurement of planting material, machinery and equipment for tillage, as well as the maintenance of plantations.

”Hazelnuts produced in Croatia are of extra quality, because the climate here, as in practically all Mediterranean countries, is extremely suitable for planting and growing hazelnuts and other nuts, which is very well known to me, because we’ve been working in Croatia for 25 years now, primarily with subcontractors in the area of ​​Virovitica and Orahovica. Currently, there are 50 of them, from whom we buy 100 tonnes of hazelnuts a year, but these numbers can be quadrupled without any problems and we’re ready to help everyone who is interested,” said Calcagni, who, with the help of expert consultant from Osijek, Mladen Ardalic, bought 50 hectares of orchards in Baranja on which the Italian company Besana raised its hazelnut plantations as a kind of demonstration area for all who want to get involved in cooperation with them.

”There are 6 hectares of old plantation and 44 hectares of new plantation from which the real harvest hasn’t yet started,” Ardalic explained, while Ivo Brzica, Besana’s project manager in Croatia, explained how their plantations in Baranja were initially established.

”Our main varieties, Tonda Romana and Tonda Nocchione, are planted on them. In addition, the most modern underground irrigation system has been installed there, which is quite unusual for fruit growing in this country, but the vaporisation of the water is less and it’s easier to work with machines above ground. We also have our own meteorological station and specialised orchard processing machines. In addition to advice and supervision of the entire process from design to planting and purchase, we also offer potential subcontractors the opportunity to purchase machines, equipment and technology, as well as our In Vitro seedlings of quality industrial varieties, which guarantee high yield and quality,” explained Brzica, while Calcagni emphasised the great potential of planting hazelnuts and nuts in general.

”In the European Union, we have access to 500 million consumers of our products, but in the next 20 years, India and China will become very large, probably the largest, consumers, which means that there will be high demand for hazelnuts and nuts and therefore any investment made in production is very good because the prices will rise. The market will be secured and these are very good trends and a great opportunity for Croatian producers to join the chain,” said the owner of the Italian company Besana, who, in cooperation with a Spanish partner called Importaco founded a group called AgriBioTech based in London.

In addition, Calcagni is also at the helm of the INC Foundation, whose members are made up of 1,000 nut producers from all around the world. Otherwise, the Italian company Besana annually buys 7,000 tonnes of hazelnuts, ie 44,000 tonnes of various nuts, and together with Importaco, 220,000 tonnes. They have 18 production plants across Europe and an assortment of 700 different products of which 140 million different packages are packaged annually.

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