This year's leader in the Bulgarian food sector is sunflower oil producer Oliva owned by grain trader Buildcom, whose sole owner is Angel Georgiev. For another year, the company's revenues, which come mainly from the wholesale sale of sunflower oil for exports, not only exceed 1 billion levs (500 million euro), but jump by more than 45% year-on-year, to almost 1.5 billion levs. The profit more than trebles, reaching 140 million levs. This growth rate can easily be explained against the backdrop of the global increase in the price of sunflower and other vegetable oils. And with the war in Ukraine sending oil prices to unprecedented levels, 2022 is likely to bring a new record to the company's earnings.
An overview of the sectorFood and beverage manufacturers had a healthy 2021: the revenues of the 30 largest companies in the sector rose by almost 24% to 6.7 billion levs. The boom is strongest in vegetable oil factories, but mineral water, chicken, and cheese enterprises also record double-digit growth. Profits are also strong, growing by almost 30% on average. And the good indicators were achieved with almost the same number of employees.
Traditional leaders such as producers of bread, cheese, milk, sweets are no longer at the top of the ranking. The top 3 are all sunflower and corn processors: Oliva, ADM - Razgrad and Papas oil. And the gigantic turnovers are the result of the increased price of agricultural goods and come from exports, not from the local market.
Four more vegetable oil producers enter the top 30. A double-digit growth in revenues of over 38% (up to 577 million levs) and a three-digit increase of profit (34.9 million levs) was reported by Papas Oil, owned by Georgi Tashev. "Our company is export-oriented and depends on the development of foreign markets. Our long-term contracts with partners from Italy, Spain, Germany and Greece allowed us to plan ahead purchases of sunflower seeds and production," comments Tsvetelina Peneva, financial director of the company.
In 2021, the companies with the highest net profit margins in the food and beverage sector are the Carlsberg brewery and the meat processor KEN. Six companies report a loss, the most significant of which are Kamenitza, ADM, and Gorna Banya water bottling company.
A sweeter periodOnce again second in the ranking is ADM Razgrad (formerly Amylum Bulgaria). The company, owned by U.S.-based Archer Daniels Midland, produces corn starches, glucose-fructose syrups, crystalline and liquid dextrose. The management board of the company comments that despite the pandemic, ADM Razgrad worked at full capacity and not only retained, but even increased its staff.
Nestle Bulgaria (6th) also recorded sales growth, by over 10% to 292 million levs. In November 2021, the local subsidiary of the Swiss giant invested 19 million levs into the production of Smarties, intended for the local market and for exports.
The sweets sector will soon have a new leader after it was announced in May 2021 that Mondelēz International was buying Greek croissant and baked roll maker Chipita for around 2 billion dollars. The units of the two companies in the country - Mondelez Bulgaria (13th) and Chipita Bulgaria (11th) - still participate in the ranking with their individual reports. The formal integration of Chipita's business in Bulgaria was completed in July 2022.
Prestige-96 records revenues of over 68 million levs for 2021, ranking 24th. The company from Veliko Tarnovo, founded in 1996 by Bulgarian entrepreneurs, is a market leader in all categories it operates in: biscuits, waffles and mini-cakes. In 2019, the company bought Credo Food and expanded its production capacity for waffles. The biggest shareholders in Prestige are two investment funds - The Rohatyn Group (TRG) and Stage Capital.
Double-digit revenue growth in 2021 was also recorded by Fikosota Food (part of the Fikosota Group), ranking 27th in the sector. The company - producer of Bruschette Maretti and Kubeti chips, invested 13 million euro in a new factory last year.
How's your drink?Coca-Cola HBK Bulgaria (5th) reports a double-digit growth in both revenues and profit in 2021, but the pre-pandemic levels have not yet been reached.
Devin (18th) also recorded a stable double-digit growth in turnover. The company, owned by the Belgium-based Spadel, operates in the market of mineral and spring water. In addition, the company is a distributor of Red Bull energy drinks and Granini fruit juices for Bulgaria.
The ranking includes one more company from the soft drinks sector - Gorna Banya (30th), which since 2009 has been owned by Multi Group Concern - Armenia. The company is the concessionaire of a part of the mineral water deposit in Sofia metropolitan district of Gorna Banya. It also produces fruit and carbonated soft drinks. Since June 2012, BBB fruit juices and nectars are also part of the company portfolio.
The meat sectorFor the first time, Bella Bulgaria participates in the ranking with a consolidated report, which gives it the 4th place in the top 30. The company produces sausages, pasta, margarine, mashed potatoes - a total of over 200 products. In the fall of 2020, the group bought the struggling Greek pre-packaged sliced meat delicacy producer Creta Farms.
Meat producer Boni Holding (8th) also participates in the ranking. At the end of 2020, the company agreed with the European Investment Bank on a 30-million-euro loan for construction of new production facilities and modernization of existing ones.
Another sausage producer - KEN (26th) - enters the sector ranking. The company reports over 5% sales growth and 46.5% rise in profit in 2021. It is one of the first private companies in the industry, established in 1991.
Pilko has a double-digit growth in revenues and a lower level of profit (10th). The company is part of Ameta Holding owned by one of the largest chicken producers in Europe - Germany's PHW. "In general, processed food producers cannot keep up with the rate at which energy and feed costs are rising. At the same time, they are partially adjusting their final product prices 6 to 8 months later. We are going through difficult years but despite this, we traditionally invest around 4-5 million euro each year in renovation and in facilities with higher production efficiency," comments Lyubomir Lozanov, executive director of Ameta Holding.
Beer sales fallThe beer market, estimated at around 600 million levs, recorded a minimal contraction of 1% in volume compared to 2020 and nearly 6% less compared to the pre-pandemic 2019.
In 2021, Carlsberg Bulgaria (9th) maintains its leading position in the industry with a turnover of 201.8 million levs. It is followed by Zagorka (16th), whose revenues exceed 125 million levs. Kamenitza is 17th with a double-digit turnover growth, but with a loss of over 20 million levs.
Flour, bread and milkThe Topaz Mel flour milling complex, part of Minyo Staykov's group, climbs to the 20th position in the sector ranking with over 25% sales growth in 2021.
The other large producer of flour - Goodmills Bulgaria (22nd), reports an increase of over 8% in sales and over 46% profit growth.
The bread and bakery products maker Simid Sofia climbs to the 23rd place in the ranking with revenues of over 70.7 million levs for 2021. Karadjov is chairman of Simid 1000 cooperative (28th position), which controls over 20 enterprises related to the production of flour and bread, and has a distribution network.
The top 30 also includes two companies in the milk and dairy products sector - Tirbul (21st) and Danone Serdika (29th). Tirbul, the manufacturer of dairy products under the Olympus brand, reports over 26% growth in revenues, and a loss of 490 thousand levs. The enterprise in Sliven is part of Greek group Hellenic Dairies (formerly Tyras), which has factories in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania.
Danone, which has been operating in Bulgaria since 1994, sells fresh lactic acid and vegetable products under the Danone and Alpro brands (soy and nut drinks, plant-based coffees, cooking products). In 2014, Danone transferred its production facilities to U.S.-based Schreiber Foods, which now manufactures products for Danone under its brands. The output is exported to Italy, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Spain, North Macedonia.