To meet the brand’s growing demand, Georgian sunflower seed company Solari is expanding its product portfolio with packaged almonds and peanuts for snacking for the local and export markets.
General Director of Solari, Iuri Tkebuchava, told Golden Brand that product testing started in May, and if the new products prove their viability they will be sold on the local market and later on the European.
“Hopefully our new products, like the traditional, will also satisfy customers, and we will occupy a worthy place in the Georgian market, giving us incentive to enter the European market,” Tkebuchava said.
In the meantime Solari produces three types of sunflower seeds – roasted; salty roasted; and
shelled, roasted seeds. The company uses locally produced raw materials.
Solari has been operating on the Georgian market since 2014, when it first introduced roasted sunflower seeds.
Q. In order to produce a new line of products Solari has acquired a new factory, which would be the second in Tbilisi. Is the factory currently operational?
A. The space was not in accordance with the standards and useful for the purpose for which the company needed it, so we had to do a lot of construction and repair. At the moment, 80% of that work has been completed.
We have installed a cold storage area for storing products, arranged communications both on the internal and external perimeter, rigged up production elevators, etc. Based on the scale of the space, by the end of the year it should be done and ready for expanded operations.
Q. The company has also started preparatory work for obtaining the ISO certificate. What work do you have to do to get this?
A. We’re in the process of obtaining the ISO international certificate.
We’ve brought hygiene and food safety in line with international requirements in the company’s main factory. We also had to upgrade equipment. We think we’ll have certification by the end of the year.
Q. The ISO certificate would also bring you closer to export to European markets. Have you already started negotiations with those countries?
A. Our team has set a goal to enter the European market, which means moving to European standards in all areas – quality of raw materials, production equipment, the technical side, and many more details. We are in negotiations with foreign exporters, who expect to receive from Solari competitive products made with Georgian raw materials.
Q. What are some recent developments at the company?
A. I would call them “challenges” rather than “developments”.
The import of raw materials from Ukraine was interrupted due to well-known events. The company was completely reset, returning to the Russian market. The export of raw materials from Russia has brought a number of difficulties recently, because the Russian government imposed a high export tax on sunflowers – 50% instead of ~6.5%. Basically, logistics have become much more difficult and time-consuming. However, with the team work and common efforts of the company, we have gradually overcome these problems and the supply is currently experiencing no delays .