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Exporter of the Year wins the trust of pasta eaters all over the world

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Tartu Mill, the largest grain producer in the Baltics, has not only won trust from local consumers but is among others selling its flour also to the world-famous McDonald’s chain.

The company, which was recently awarded the title of Exporter of the Year at the Entrepreneurship Award 2013 of the Enterprise Estonia, is gradually expanding the geography of its export markets. Flour, pasta, flour mixes and other grain products are sold to nearby countries, but also to Africa, Asia, as well as Australia.  Sales director of the company, Kalle Jaarman, said that the most important markets are Sweden, Finland and soon Russia. Further countries are quite price-sensitive, and local companies have a clear transportation cost advantage.

The company is actively participating in different fairs—participation in Anuga (the world’s leading food fair) in Cologne in October resulted in many promising contacts, and preparations are being made to attend Dubai’s Gulffood (the world's biggest food show) in February.

Jaarman, who’s employer has gradually increased export quantities each year, says that a lot of patience is needed when one starts to export. For example, it tooks five years of negotiations to start to sell flour to the international McDonald’s chain. Secondly, one needs to do thorough homework before entering the target market, Jaarman says. “One needs to follow correct business ethics in different countries and keep in mind cultural differences and other pecularities,” he adds. The company has also received help from different export support programmes of the Enterprise Estonia.

In 2012, Tartu Mill processed over 210,000 tons of grain and posted a profit of nearly 3.5 million euros with a sales revenue of 140 million euros. Modern technology is one of the company’s strengths. Last year it invested 7 million euros in production improvements in Estonia and in the Latvian subsidiary, and a new, powerful pasta plant was put into operation. Jaarman adds that other factors behind Tartu Mill success include having a long-term strategy as well as stable and good-quality products, plus professional employees and customer-driven co-operation.

Tartu Mill belongs to a group of international enterprises, along with Saalemühle Alsleben GmbH and Bindevald Kupfermühle GmbH mills in Germany and Dobeles Dzirnavnieks mill in Latvia.