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Sophisticating the art of prime vegetable farming

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The group, founded in 2012 and now consisting of nine growers, specializes in vegetables. “Since its foundation, the group has developed well,” says Managing Director of PRIMAVEGA Krzysztof Wierzbicki. “In 2014, we moved into new, 87,000 m³, state-of-the- art premises, which meet all the global standards for storage and food packaging. Of course, there are continual challenges. Our ‘production facility’ is an open field, so we depend very much on the weather, which can be very volatile. Last year, there was a tremendous amount of rain; this year it has been extremely hot, peppered with floods. Nevertheless,we have continued to expand and increase sales. We are proud of this achievement, given that PRIMAVEGA is still a fairly young organization, and we are still learning about our business.”

PRIMAVEGA’s main product is Iceberg lettuce, followed by broccoli, and other vegetables such as Romain lettuce, celery, radicchio, baby leeks, and spinach. The produce is grown on a combined crop area of over 750 ha. “Our vegetables are particularly tasty,” Mr. Wierzbicki underlines. “They are all grown from seed, and we use only the best raw materials. Our seeds are well protected – they meet all the relevant European standards in this respect – as are the plants. It is part of our role to educate our farmers in how to get the best from their crops, and we monitor the whole process. Quality control is particularly important, both on the fields and at our facility. We cooperate with many laboratories, who control our goods.”

All the farmers in the PRIMAVEGA cooperative are from the same region within a radius of 100 km. The aims of the PRIMAVEGA group are to optimize costs, stabilize prices, and plan fresh vegetable production to meet the needs of the market, with a focus on high quality and quantitiy.

“Polish farmers face many challenges,” explains Mr. Wierzbicki. “Production costs continue to increase, while the prices on fresh vegetable markets fluctuate continually, sometimes daily. There is growing competition from other countries. It is difficult to find good employees, and – a huge issue – farmers have to pay in advance, so financing is a problem. We cover the complete valueadd chain, from buying seeds and growing produce, to packaging, and also offer our farmers in-depth consultancy. We have a very close relationship with them and our goal is to help them to be successful.”

PRIMAVEGA produce is sold at virtually every retail store in Poland. The company is also very active in the international market, exporting its goods to almost every country in Europe and even further afield. It sells both to wholesalers and retailers, and has export retail stores in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Croatia.

Export growth is a focus for PRIMAVEGA. “We don’t look for countries, but for good customers,” Mr. Wierzbicki emphasizes. “We aim to form long-term partnerships with loyal clients, wherever they are.”

Other goals for the future include the enhancement of PRIMAVEGA’s product range with new, niche products, staff training, process optimization, sales growth, and new IT. “As a member of the Green Factory Group, we are working on creating a holistic digital strategy, which will include a central data platform and combined system for the whole group, which will enable us to be more efficient and competitive,” concludes Mr. Wierzbicki.

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