Georgian sunflower seed company Solari is expanding its activities, and after successfully positioning itself on the local market, the time has come to test its strength abroad as well.
General Director of Solari Iuri Tkebuchava told Golden Brand that the company has already acquired a new factory in Tbilisi, where Solari will produce a new line of export products such as walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds under the Solari brand.
Tkebuchava said the new products will not be sold on the local market at the first stage.
“We have acquired a new space that will enable us to make our goals a reality. Currently we are renovating the space in accordance with modern standards. We have also ordered some equipment abroad from abroad. Finally we will have a new factory, the second one in Tbilisi, which will be oriented on products for export market,” Tkebuchava said.
He added that negotiations are underway with several countries and, once the final deal, is reached the company will announce where the new products will be exported.
In the meantime Solari produces three types of sunflower seeds – roasted; salty, roasted; and shelled, roasted seeds. Solari also imports peanuts from China, processes them in Georgia, and sells them locally.
Solari has been operating on the Georgian market since 2014, when it first introduced roasted sunflower seeds for sale.
Q. After Russia banned the export of several strategically important products, including sunflower seeds, Solari found ‘urgently needed solutions’ not to halt production. Can you tell me how the company overcame this challenge?
A. Obstacles from the beginning of the pandemic to the present have affected all businesses. It was especially difficult for our company at the initial stage of the pandemic. As you know, our activities do not depend only on the socio-political situation in our country. Solari uses imported raw materials in its production, which carry certain risks.
After the Russian Federation restricted the export of sunflowers, of course, we began looking for alternatives. At this stage we imported not raw materials, but already roasted sunflowers. This process, of course, has its disadvantages, one being when you lead the production process and the other when you import someone else's finished products. The delay in transportation (especially in winter) is another obstacle which affects the quality of the product. This means that current circumstances are working against us and as a result of great efforts we are trying to maintain quality.
As for alternative ways, we began importing Ukrainian sunflowers. We consulted with our new partners, sent our quality specialists to find exactly the raw materials that matched our quality. We even managed to set up supplies – though we also faced new obstacles here, I mean the very tragic and sad situation that is happening in Ukraine now. I hope the political situation in our brother country Ukraine will be resolved soon and our cooperation will continue.
Q. All these obstacles might have affected the sales of Solari. Can you share sales statistics?
A. Yes, for all the subjective and objective reasons that we gave you in detail, sales fell by 20% in 2021.
Q. Solari has updated its webpage. What does it offer now?
A. Anyone interested should be able to get the most comprehensive information about Solari. On the website, the user can get acquainted with the history of the company, get information about our awards, and have a look at our product assortment.
We always post updates or news on the website.
Q. Also, Solari has recently introduced premium quality sunflower seeds under the name 'Premium Sunflower Solari'. Are you planning any new products for the local market anytime soon?
A. At this stage, we have increased our lineup with only ‘Premium Sunflower Solari’. For all the reasons we talked about above, we could not increase our portfolio with other products. However, the situation will change from the new season, I hope.
Q. Congratulations on winning the Golden Brand award. This was the fifth Golden Brand win for Solari. What led Solari to this success in your opinion?
A. We have been on the market for eight years and we maintain the position of leader, which, as you mentioned, has been awarded for the fifth time with the status of Golden Brand. We also lead in various other ratings.
The reason for this is the quality of our product, and the fighting ability of our team. We try to deal with difficulties in a way that will not affect the quality of Solari products.
At this point, we aim to obtain the ISO - International Certificate in various fields. This will help us export to foreign markets and increase confidence in the quality of our product.