FORBES SERBIA: The largest owners of agricultural land in Serbia continue to accumulate land

Ypaithros | 7.04.2024

(This is a Google translation of the original)

FORBES SERBIA: The largest owners of agricultural land in Serbia continue to accumulate land

Fewer holdings, but higher average acres per owner

Nikos Gargalakos

Serbian companies Industrija mesa Matijevic, Delta Holding, Almex DOO, Coric Agrar DOO and LoginEKO (owned by a married Slovenian couple), along with Al Dahra Holding LLC and Elite Agro LLC from the United Arab Emirates are currently the largest landowners in Serbia, according to a Forbes Serbia report.

Industrija mesa Matijevic, a holding company active in the meat sector and also producing feed ingredients, cultivates 360,000 hectares in Vojvodina and an additional 20,000 hectares in Croatia. Under its umbrella it has 106 business entities active in the agricultural sector and the trade and hospitality sectors.

One of the company's recent deals was the acquisition of a majority stake in Vrbas-based Mitron Group, bringing ten other businesses to the fold, including the Banat olive oil producer and the Sava Kovacevic farm, with the latter adding around 40,000 acres to the portfolio. of Industrija mesa Matijevic.

Apart from Serbian companies, the country is seeing its land being bought up by foreign interests. For a full five years, Al Dahra has been ranked as the second largest landowner in Serbia. In October 2018, the UAE-based company acquired a stake in agribusiness company PKB Corporation for €121 million, taking over 17,000 acres under its control. According to reports at the time, the company paid 80 million euros for the land, or 470 euros per acre.

As the report shows, in the Balkan country there is a clear tendency to concentrate agricultural land in the hands of the few and powerful. In fact, the big players in this property "arena" have remained the same for years. Only sporadic rearrangements between them are observed, as long as someone makes a large purchase and sale of land. In any case, the closed club of the five largest agricultural land owners is not differentiated. In fact, the progress they are making in accumulating land is one of the biggest in Europe, according to Serbian Forbes.
What the Census of Agriculture shows

According to the results of the latest Agricultural Census in Serbia, which was conducted from October 1 to December 15, 2023 , 508,365 agricultural holdings were registered in the country, a decrease of 10% compared to the corresponding survey in 2018. However, the average area of a of agricultural holdings has increased to 64 hectares, from 54 in the previous census, as agro-economist Milan Prostran tells Forbes Serbia, confirming the strong concentration trend.

Indicatively, it is noted that the – at the time – average size of 54 hectares was 2.6 times smaller than the average size of a farm in the European Union. Only four member states - Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Malta - had a lower average in that period.
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