The FINANCIAL -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is increasing its investment in the agribusiness sector in Georgia with a €10 million loan to support the expansion of JSC Healthy Water, a local mineral water extraction and bottling company.
Healthy Water is one of Georgia’s leading natural mineral water companies, selling Nabeghlavi carbonated and Bakhmaro spring water brands both domestically and internationally. The company is a subsidiary of JSC Margebeli, a vertically integrated food and beverage group.
Healthy Water is currently constructing a greenfield non-alcoholic beverage factory that will allow the company to produce a variety of popular beverages, initially for the local market but with the possibility to export in the future. The support from the EBRD included an energy audit, which helped the company to identify and prioritise innovative energy efficient technologies that were then integrated into the design of the new production facility. Healthy Water is expecting a 10 per cent reduction in energy consumption as a result. Some of the technology purchased for the company’s new facility is also eligible to receive incentives under FINTECC, a programme that helps companies to implement innovative climate technologies, according to EBRD.
In addition to the loan, the EBRD’s multi-donor Early Transition Countries Fund has provided support to finance a technical feasibility study and market analysis for the investment. Further support will be provided to help Healthy Water develop a unified branding and marketing campaign.
Incorporating two major food and beverage producers, Healthy Water and Marneuli Food Factory, Margebeli Group is a growing player in Georgia’s agribusiness sector and a long-standing EBRD partner. The new loan is the Bank’s third transaction with the Group since its first project in 2009.
Bruno Balvanera, EBRD Director for Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus, said: “We are delighted to continue our relationship with Margebeli Group. This new loan will allow the company to introduce innovative technologies that will improve energy efficiency. This will strengthen the company’s competitiveness, both in Georgia and in regional markets, and align its operations to EU standards while promoting best practices in the local agribusiness sector.”
Agriculture is one of the priority sectors in the EBRD’s country strategy for Georgia. It is also important for the EBRD to support improvements in the value chain of the local agribusiness sector. Since the beginning of its operations in Georgia in 1992, the Bank has invested approximately €2.6 billion in more than 180 projects.