The FINANCIAL -- Herbia, a grower, packer, and shipper of culinary herbs and vegetables with no chemical fertilisers or insecticides, will increase its assortment, improve the distribution network, and most importantly – will open its first branded markets in the capital Tbilisi and other cities of Georgia.
Since commencing production in early 2006, Herbia has quickly become one of Georgia’s leading producers of premium-quality, greenhouse-grown culinary herbs and vegetables and a pioneer in the field of packaged herbs offered to local consumers.
It operates some 3 ha of greenhouses and a modern refrigerated warehouse with two packing lines in Tskaltubo, Georgia.
Herbia provides its customers with a reliable, year-round, local supply of produce grown under the highest standards of food safety and environmental sustainability.
This year Herbia received its first Golden Brand award for the utmost success the company achieved in 2017.
“Herbia became the first Global Gap-certified company in Georgia in 2010 and still remains the only company in the country with this certificate,” said Zurab Janelidze, Director of Herbia.
“The company was founded in 2006 and was oriented at export markets, but in 2014 the company started introducing packaged herbs on the local market as well. The Georgian market showed great interest in packaged herbs and this encouraged us to create a complete industrial chain, which means being responsible for the whole process from greenhouse to shelves. Grown locally and environmentally pure, year round, with unmatched care and commitment to quality – these are the factors that determined our Golden Brand award this year,” he added.
Q. What is the market share of Herbia as of today and how do you compete with local as well as imported products?
A. Herbia sells only packaged herbs and holds a 70% market share as of today. Herbia’s products are sold in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Rustavi and Batumi.
As for the competition, there is no other imported product on the market which is packaged. As for Georgian herbs, we always welcome competition because it is necessary for our company. It encourages us to be always development-oriented.
In general, this business is very complicated, starting from the greenhouse and ending with distribution. In other European countries different companies are involved at the different stages while here we are doing all of the jobs ourselves. This business is interesting and profitable as well, otherwise it would be stopped.
Q. How many types of products does Herbia offer to customers and which of them are the most in demand?
A. We started our business with four products back in 2014 while today Herbia’s assortment includes 30 types of products.
Customers’ favourites are our lettuce mix, rocket, basil and salad mix.
The company is actively working on increasing the assortment. We recently launched production of the innovative product ‘Potato Extra’, cleaned carrot, onion and garlic, which customers can buy at the Carrefour, Goodwill and Agrohub hypermarkets.
Very soon we will offer customers a natural vegetable pasta and dry products too.
Q. How developed is greenhouse farming in Georgia, especially for producing greens and vegetables?
A. There are over 1,000 ha of greenhouses in our region alone, which is no small number for Georgia. However, Georgia does lack high technological greenhouses, which is a hindering factor for supplying foreign markets, despite the fact that the demand there is very high.
Q. Where are Herbia’s products exported to, and do you plan to enter new markets?
A. Herbia was established as an export-oriented company. We used to sell Herbia’s products in Germany, the Netherlands, and the Baltic countries. There was demand from Scandinavian countries, Great Britain, and others. But the main requirement was continuous supply of the products, which we could not handle. So we refused to export to these countries except for Bulgaria, where we achieved a deal which means that Herbia will export products to Bulgaria in periods when the surplus is high.
In 2017 we exported 30 tonnes of herbs to Bulgaria.
Q. How does the Government support greenhouse farming in Georgia?
A. Herbia enjoys cheap agro-credit. Also, within the state programme ‘Produce in Georgia’ Herbia received a plot of land where new greenhouses will be built and a processing plant as well.
It is also very important that the Government has planned to arrange an agricultural zone in Tskaltubo municipality. In this zone a modern greenhouse with modern technologies will be opened and also a new logistics centre.