EU funds help: They produce tens of millions of fruit bars
25. 12. 2020
They harvest about four thousand tonnes of fruit a year and send tens of millions of fruit, nut, cereal or protein bars to the world. EU subsidies also help them in this. They grow fruit in the vicinity of Slaný on 200 hectares, and grow cereals on another 40.
The fruit-food company EKOFRUKT Slaný is one of the major fruit growers in the Czech Republic. The company also owns modern technical equipment for storage and post-harvest treatment of fruit, especially large-capacity refrigerated warehouses with a ULO atmosphere, i.e. with a low oxygen content, which ensures its preservation in the best possible consumer quality, and modern sorting lines for fruit. EKOFRUKT also has technologies for fruit packaging - nets, plastic bags, liners, etc.
The CEO of the company, Dr. Tomáš Richtr, says that without subsidy support, fruit growing could hardly exist. Fortunately, they have successfully implemented a number of projects which were created thanks to subsidies, especially from the European Union. The results of these projects will be presented at the Open Day on 14 September.
THEY WOULD HAVE A PROBLEM WITHOUT SUBSIDIES
“We are a food and agricultural company. At the beginning, we were more agricultural but the volume of production of especially muesli and other types of bars has outweighed the agricultural part. We have been developing successfully in recent years, the company's turnover is growing. We acquired new technologies for the production of fruit bars and for fruit processing. We invested in new orchards, most of the original ones were replaced by new plantings," said Tomáš Richtr.
They perceive the subsidies provided by the EU positively. Without subsidies, especially fruit growing could not be operated without losses.
"We are glad that we have been able to obtain a number of subsidies. There were dozens of projects that were supported under various programmes. Over the last two years, the projects mainly concerned the expansion of the production of bars, especially the construction of a new line, including the hall. Several projects followed each other and the result was a new line for the production of bars with facilities. The total costs were around 30 million Czech crowns, a part of which we financed ourselves, and a part was paid from the Rural Development Programme. The subsidy from the EU here was about 8 million," Richtr Jr describes.
In recent years, they have also invested heavily in irrigation systems and anti-hail systems. Without these measures, they would experience tense moments in EKOFRUKT.
"The weather in recent years has been so incredible that without irrigation and anti-hail nets it is not possible to run this activity effectively. We do not monitor long-term weather forecasts, because they are mostly inaccurate, the forecast and the reality are diametrically different. We follow short-term forecasts but, in the end, we cannot influence the weather anyway. We can only prepare for it," says Richtr Sr, and his son Tomáš, who focuses mainly on the trading part, adds: "We also use antifreeze candles but only among cherries and apricots which can be monetized better. The cost of frost protection is enormous, it costs us many hundreds of thousands of Czech crowns in just a few spring months and on a few hectares."
In their orchards, they grow apples, mostly the Golden Delicious, Jonagold and Gala varieties, as well as pears, cherries, sour cherries and apricots. They then sell most of the apples as table fruit, with the advantage of storing the apples in their own warehouses. Most of the so-called cider apples go to Germany and Austria for processing. Some apples are processed into apple juice and ciders by producers in our country. To expand its product range, the company has begun to supply the Czech market with packaged dried apple slices and fresh sliced apples with extended shelf life. Some of the dried apples are used as an ingredient in the muesli bars. "It's similar for pears, we keep them in long-term storage and sell them for consumption. Cherries, sour cherries and apricots are sold right after the harvest," Richtr Sr lists.
They grow apples, pears, cherries, sour cherries and apricots. Most of the so-called cider apples go to Germany and Austria for processing.
PROTEIN BARS ARE NEW
Over the last two years, EKOFRUKT has significantly expanded the range of bars. "Until then, our production mainly included the original types, which we started with 27 years ago, i.e. the classic muesli bars. First, nut and oat bars appeared, then organic bars, and last year it was protein bars, so-called flapjacks, and oat bars with protein,” says Richtr Jr. Food production, i.e. the production of bars and the production of modified chilled fruit, takes place on fully automated lines.
THEY ALSO BUILT FRUIT TRAILS
In addition to the above-mentioned projects supported by subsidies from the European Union, a number of projects were successfully completed under the Local Action Group called Přemyslid Central Bohemia. One of the several projects implemented through them was the so-called Fruit Trails.
"We have restored old paths and also created new ones. They lead around our orchards but some run through them. Several seating areas and information boards were created. The total cost was about 600 thousand Czech crowns. The European Union contributed a subsidy at around 40 percent," CEO Richtr added.
Photo: Jiří Macek