Estonia gets its first freeze-drying plant

OÜ Freezedry will on May 30 open the first freeze-drying plant in Estonia at Simuna in West-Viru County, in which the company invested 800 000 euros.

“The investment into building the plant exceeds 800 000 euros. including 300 000 euros of support from the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA) for equipment and 100 000 euros for the construction of the building,” board member Mermi Kangur told BNS.

As the plant will start production with one shift, it will initially employ five people. If the company gets enough orders more staff will be hired as and when necessary, Kangur said.

“The freeze-dryer takes around a thousand kilograms of berries at a time – speaking about strawberries, for instance, about 100 kilograms or slightly less is left,” Kangur said. The process takes 24 hours, after which the device has to be de-iced, which takes 12 hours.

Kangur said the company has already received the first orders. Finnish entrepreneurs have displayed the biggest interest. “They want to enter the Finnish market with their own brands, outsourcing the service to us, whereas we’d like to enter the Scandinavian market with our own brand,” she said.

The only freeze-drying plant in the Baltic region thus far was near Kaunas, Lithuania, but its input capacity is nearly 10 times smaller at 100 kilograms of berries a day, she added.

Freeze-drying is a technology developed by NASA, the company said. Freeze-dried products retain all their principal qualities – colour, shape, size, taste and texture, as well as nutritional content. All foods from which water can be removed can be freeze-dried.

Source: Estonian Review (BNS)

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A. Le Coq exports to Greece

The Tartu, Estonia-based beverage maker A. Le Coq has multiplied exports to Greece and is eyeing sales of 400 000-550 000 euros on the Greek market this year, which would exceed last year’s sales tenfold.

“We started selling on the Greek market three years ago and by now we have a sales network that covers the whole Greece,” CEO Tarmo Noop said. “The geography of A. Le Coq beverages has expanded from year to year and in terms of marketing, European summer holiday destinations are just the right place for selling one’s products as it helps raise awareness of A. Le Coq products also in tourists’ home countries.”

Noop said that in soft drink exports, Angry Birds is the company’s biggest success. Companies of the Finnish Olvi group, to which also A. Le Coq belongs, have the exclusive rights to sell the drinks of the brand on several European markets. Of alcoholic beverages A. Le Coq exports mainly beer, cider and long drinks to Europe.

The beverages maker has 10 groups of products in its portfolio, the largest of which are beer, water, juices and soft drinks.

Source: Estonian Review (BNS)

Estonia, Finland let EC to pinpoint terminal location

Estonia and Finland failed to reach the common understanding regarding which country should host the regional LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal, and agreed to let the European Commission to decide the matter on their behalf, writes news2biz ESTONIA.

The report on possible terminal locations, ordered by the EC and put together by Booz consultancy, left the matter somewhat open.

Read more from BBN

The housing loan portfolio stopped shrinking after four years

The portfolio of loans and leases to Estonian companies and households stood at 14.7 billion euros at the end of April having grown by 2.2% during the year, which is a slightly slower rate than in February and March. As companies repaid more of their loans in April than they took in new loans, the total value of loans and leases to the real sector fell by 88 million euros in the month.

Companies took out 10% more new loans and leases in April than in the same period last year. The increase in loan turnover has slowed as the comparison base has risen, but the 727 million euros in loans and leases that were taken out was similar to the level of March. Around one quarter of the loans were long-term loans. As in previous months, the majority of the loans went to the real estate and construction sectors. The remainder of the loan turnover was distributed relatively evenly among the other sectors.

For the first time in four years the housing loan portfolio of households did not shrink. This was supported by a resurgence in the housing loan market. In April more than 1700 loan contracts were signed, for a total value that was 31% more than a year ago. Households also continued to show strong interest in car leases, which saw annual growth of over 30 percent.

The average interest rate on loans rose slightly, while six-month Euribor, the base interest rate, remained at a similar level to that of March. The average interest rate for housing loans granted in April was 2.7%, and the average rate for long-term corporate loans was 3.2%.

Loans that were more than 60 days overdue made up 3.1% of the total loan portfolio by volume.

Annual growth in deposits slowed in April to 5%. The volume of deposits of the domestic real sector increased on the back of household resources by only 13 million euros in the month, remaining at 8.6 billion euros. Low interest rates offer no incentive for term deposits and so disposable resources tend to be held as liquid demand deposits. Term deposits have shrunk as a share of total deposits over the year by 11 percentage points to 33%.

Source: Bank of Estonia

Author: Kadri Salumaa, Financial Sector Policy Division of Eesti Pank

Ingman acquires 21 pct in Trigon Agri

The Ingman Group from Finland has acquired 21% of Trigon Dairy Farming Estonia, Estonian dairy farming subsidiary of Trigon Agri.

Ingman Group is the investment vehicle of the Ingman family which owned the largest independent milk processing businesses in Finland until they were recently acquired by Arla and Unilever.

TDFE plans to develop its Väätsa dairy farm into the largest milk farm in the EU with planned capacity of 3,300 milking cows housed in one large facility.

The Estonian dairy farms belonging to TDFE had consolidated revenue of EUR 10.7 million and EBITDA of EUR 2.2 million in 2012.

Read more from BBN

Average monthly salary was 900 euros in 1stQ

According to Statistics Estonia, in the 1st quarter of 2013, the average monthly gross wages and salaries were 900 euros and the average hourly gross wages and salaries were 5.63 euros. Compared to the 1st quarter of the previous year, the average monthly gross wages and salaries grew 6.3% and the average hourly gross wages and salaries 9.1%.

The average monthly gross wages and salaries without irregular bonuses and premiums increased 6.5%. Real wages, which take into account the influence of the change in the consumer price index, increased 2.7% in the 1st quarter of 2013. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, real wages increased for the seventh quarter in succession.

According to the Wages and Salaries Statistics Survey, the number of employees as at the end of March was practically the same as in the same period of 2012.

Compared to the 1st quarter of 2012, the average monthly gross wages and salaries increased the most in real estate activities (13.9%) and the hourly gross wages and salaries in agriculture, forestry and fishing activities (15.7%). Compared to the 1st quarter of 2012, the average monthly and hourly gross wages and salaries decreased only in arts, entertainment and recreation activities (2.0% and 1.0%, respectively).

The average gross wages and salaries were 876 euros in January, 882 euros in February and 940 euros in March.

In the 1st quarter of 2013, the employer’s average monthly labour costs per employee were 1,220 euros and the average hourly labour costs were 8.03 euros. Compared to the 1st quarter of 2012, the average monthly labour costs per employee increased by 6.3% and the average hourly labour costs by 8.7%.

Compared to the 1st quarter of 2012, the average monthly labour costs per employee increased the most in real estate activities (13.7%) and the average hourly labour costs in agriculture, forestry and fishing activities (15.7%). Compared to the 1st quarter of 2012, the average monthly labour costs per employee and the hourly labour costs decreased only in arts, entertainment and recreation activities (2.2% and 1.3%, respectively).

In the 1st quarter of 2013, the average monthly gross wages and salaries in public sector were 918 euros and in private sector 894 euros. Compared to the 1st quarter of 2012, the average monthly gross wages and salaries in public sector increased by 6.3% and in private sector by 6.4%. Public sector also includes companies owned by the state or local government.

Statistics Estonia conducts the Wages and Salaries Statistics Survey on the basis of international methodology since 1992. In 2013, the sample included 11,592 enterprises, institutions and organisations. The average monthly gross wages and salaries have been given in full time units to enable a comparison of different wages and salaries, irrespective of the length of working time. Calculations of the monthly gross wages and salaries are based on payments for actually worked time and remuneration for time not worked. The hourly gross wages and salaries do not include remuneration for time not worked (holiday leave pay, benefits, etc.). In short-term statistics, the average gross wages and salaries are measured as a component of labour costs. Labour costs include gross wages and salaries, employer’s contributions and employer’s imputed social contributions to employees.

See the graph here

Source: Statistics Estonia

Estonia – 9th among world’s most open markets

Estonia has retained its 9th place and Finland has risen to 17th from 20th in the fresh Open Markets Index to be released soon by the International Chamber of Commerce, the Finnish business paper Kauppalehti says.

Estonia was ranked 9th also in the previous scoreboard published in November 2011. The top three remain without change, with Hong Kong at the top, followed by Singapore and Luxembourg. Belgium has improved its position, climbing to 4th from 5th position two years ago, and Malta has risen to 5th from 22nd in 2011.

Switzerland and Denmark have dropped out of the top ten, falling respectively to 11th from 8th and to 15th from 10th. Sweden placed 12th and Russia 59th in this year’s index.

The Open Markets Index is comprised of four key elements: openness to trade, trade policy, openness to capital flows and trade-enabling infrastructure. In the previous index Estonia received the highest score for openness to international capital inflows where the ratio of foreign direct investment to gross domestic product and gross fixed capital formation is measured and the ease of making a foreign investment evaluated.

Source: Estonian Review (via BNS)