Life at BORELA: news and challenges
Here the highest quality organic hemp products are processed from the ecological hemp grown in the Baltic state – they find their place in consumers baskets both in Lithuania and abroad. Paulius Parseliunas, BORELA managing director, talks more about company’s daily activities and challenges.
A year ago many farmers in Lithuania were extremely worried because of the heavy rains they lost the bigger part of their harvest. Can you tell about the situation this year when we had a very hot summer?
Having in mind that spring and summer were really dry, this year we expected a smaller harvest. However, at the moment, when we began harvesting, we already hope for a mediocre harvest. This means we expect to have around 500 kilograms of raw material per hectare. For a comparison the best harvest we ever had was 650-700 kilograms per hectare. Of course, our goal is to have a ton of ecological hemp seeds per hectare.
The company maintains the highest quality standards which are validated with international certificates. What quality of the raw material you expect this year having in mind the extraordinary weather conditions?
In comparison to 2017 this year we hope to process products of a better quality because last summer many hectares were left uncultivated. The reason was heavy rains – the fields were flooded and farmers could not access them. We results of microbiological tests were really disappointing – we recorded a high number of bacteria that was determined by high humidity level.
The changing weather conditions is not the only factor affecting the quality of the production. What other challenges you face while processing the highest quality products?
The main challenge is quite a high quantity of admixture in the raw material. The reason behind this is a combination of Baltic states soil characteristics and crop rotation. To improve this situation we plan to invest in grain management equipment. A cleaning and pasteurization line is planned and we hope to have it for the second quarter of 2019. This improvement would allow us to reach the highest cleanliness standards in Europe. Moreover, we plan to invest more in BORELA factory. To be more precise, this means an investment into quality. By doing this we aim not only to keep up with the market requirements but also to satisfy the expectations of a well-informed client at home and abroad. One more reason to pay so much attention to quality standards is the goal to get our products on the shelves of the biggest supermarkets in Lithuania and in order to reach this goal our production has to meet particular requirements. Furthermore, we put a lot of effort to get an ecological BioSuisse certificate for our production. This would allow us to secure sales to Switzerland – our company would consider this as an exceptional achievement.
How would you describe the current process when you are increasing your market share? What about big competitors?
We are slowly but surely paving the way for our position in the Australian market. A couple of shipments were already successfully sent and some of them are planned for the future. It is still difficult to find a way into American market but we see a lot of possibilities while we have received quite a few contract enquiries. European market at the moment is quite stable but a little bit disappointing because it still has to recover 2017 stagnation. We notice that there is no sign of growing sales and the competition is on the rise – cheap raw material is shipped from China. But so far we do not see any new big players in this market.
Where can we expect to see you this year? How do you look for new partners and contacts?
We decided to change our marketing policy and won’t take part in many exhibitions. This decision was taken because in many of the exhibitions we are “just sitting, presenting and hoping for a result” and such a strategy is quite obsolete. Therefore, we decided to take part only in the world‘s leading trade fair for organic food BIOFACH where everyone can visit our stand. Also, our new target is European and American exhibitions that focus on food ingredients. Of course, we are still thinking about other exhibitions, but, as I have already mentioned, it is a big chance that we will turn to B2B platforms, where we can form new face-to-face partnerships between producers and clients.