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Mike Knowles



Bulgaria backs local produce suppliers

Ministry of Agriculture announces it has reached agreement with retailers in the country to source local fruit and vegetables

Bulgaria backs local produce suppliers
Locally grown tomatoes and fruit on sale at a market in Sofia (photo: Monika Kostera)

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The government of Bulgaria has reportedly reached an agreement with the country's major food retail chains to encourage the sourcing of domestically produced fruit and vegetables on a year-round basis.

However, speaking on national television station BNT, the country's Minister of Agriculture Dimitar Grekov said the plan would be difficult to implement as long as farmers failed to unite and nominate representatives to work with the retailers on arranging supply programmes.

Bulgaria's retail sector remains extremely fragmented in terms of the companies involved, but a number of high-profile foreign operators have made some headway as far as expansion is concerned since the country joined the EU in 2007.

According to Planet Retail, the five largest grocery retailers in Bulgaria by market share are Lidl (Schwarz Group), Rewe, Coop Euro, CBA (Hungary) and Metro Group.

As a result, a more organised, formal structure is beginning to emerge around procurement, meaning suppliers are now obliged to meet tougher criteria in terms of providing necessary documentation and certification.

Grekov suggested growers needed to cut out middlemen in the supply chain and organise their own sourcing arrangements with retail customers.

A newly proposed budget for Bulgarian agriculture will apparently see around Lev15m (€7.67m) earmarked for the sector, including Lev3.5m (€1.79m) for vegetable production.

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