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Food and Agriculture

Basic facts


Bulgaria has strong traditions in the food sector


~ 500 B.C.

Thracians were one of three major tribes responsible for the genetic beginnings of today's Bulgarians. They discovered a new method of milk fermentation with lactobacilli isolated from green plants.


14-19 century

During Ottoman rule, farming was the primary livelihood for the predominantly rural population of Bulgaria.



Franz Milde, helped by a group of enterprising residents of Shumen, started one of the oldest breweries in Bulgaria: Shumensko Pivo.



The Kamenitza brewery, established by three Swiss entrepreneurs in 1881, won a gold medal at the prestigious Exposition internationale de boissons fermentes hygiéniques in Brussels.



Ernest Solvay, the famous founder of the Belgian industrial conglomerate Solvay, established the first Bulgarian sugar factory in Sofia.



Bulgaria became the first country in the former Communist bloc to produce Coca-Cola.


‘70s – ’80s

Bulgaria became the world's second largest exporter of bottled wines.



Bulgaria ranked among the first tomato exporting countries in Europe, reaching 220 000 tonnes per year.



In 1990, Bulgaria was the world's largest exporter of rose oil used for the perfume industry.



90% of organic food grown in Bulgaria is exported to industrialised countries.



The Coca-Cola Company officially "set foot" in Bulgaria in 1992.



The Razgrad factory Tsarevitchni Produkti Ltd. was acquired by the Belgian group Amylum.



Danone entered the Bulgarian market through the acquisition of the state-owned company Serdica. Since then, Danone has invested more than €50 million in the country.



The largest international food producers entered the Bulgarian market: Kraft Foods and Nestle S.A. Since then, both companies have invested heavily in the country's economy.



The international company Carlsberg entered the Bulgarian brewery market by acquiring Shumensko Pivo.



The exports of milk, yoghurt, and cheese, including Feta cheese, from Bulgaria has increased by 30% compared with the previous year. Bulgarian milk and dairy products are known around the world for their health-promoting qualities.



The equity investment company Advent International acquired a significant share in Devin, a leading Bulgarian bottled mineral water company.



Unilever acquired the Bulgarian ice-cream company Darko, which is the second largest after Nestle.



Bulgaria ranks 1st place in the production of lavender in the world


Agricultural areas

  • Land for agricultural purposes in Bulgaria occupies 5 258 809 ha. in 2013, which represents about 47% of the country
  • High quality agricultural land in combination with favorable climatic conditions in the country allow the cultivation of a wide variety of crops

Structure of the agricultural land


Source: Agrarian report 2014, Ministry of agriculture and food


Structure of the gross value output in the sector "agriculture"


Source: Agrarian report 2014, Ministry of agriculture and food


Distribution of utilized agricultural area farms in form of stewardship


Source: Agrarian report 2014, Ministry of agriculture and food


Resource security sector

  • In 2013, the average price of one hectare of agricultural land reached 594 leva (€ 304), which is 8.6% higher compared to 2012
  • In 2013, the average rent per acre leased / rented land reaches 38 leva (€ 19), which is 11.8% higher than in 2012
  • In 2013, the share of agriculture in the added  value of the economy is about 5.5%, taking into account an increase of 0.1 points compared to 2012.

Bulgaria: a world-class food producer

  • In 2013, the share of agriculture was 4.7% of Bulgarian GDP.
  • During the 2012/2013 business year the register maintained data for 76,340 farmers, with 5 565 or 7.9% over the previous year
  • The participation of the sector in the export industry is significant - 7.9%. In 2013, exports of enterprises of food production grew by 9.7%
  • The sector "manufacture of beverages" covers about 4% of the manufacturing industry and also creates about 4% of the added value in the economy
  • In 2013 the share of agriculture in total exports, imports and trade of the country increased to 18.4%, 9.5% and 13.6%

Manufacture of basic cereal cultures of vintages 2012 and 2013


Source: Agrarian report 2014, Ministry of agriculture and food


Manufacture of basic vegetables harvested 2012 and 2013


Source: Agrarian report 2014, Ministry of agriculture and food


Production of animal products in 2012 and 2013


Source: Agrarian report 2014, Ministry of agriculture and food


Production of tomato products in 2013 in thousand tons


c - confidential data

Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Food


Dairy products. Tradition and innovation

  • For millennia, yoghurt has been Bulgarians' staple food. This unique product was first discovered by Thracian tribes living on the land of today’s Bulgaria
  • The beginning of industrial production was back in 1960, at the dairy plant Serdica - Sofia, where the machine pasteurization of milk was first introduced
  • The recent economic recovery and Bulgaria's EU accession opened new investment opportunities for the Bulgarian dairy sector - both in traditional dairy segments and in currently developing modern segments
  • The large increase in sales for new milk products provides major opportunities for investment in the dairy segment

Meat industry in Bulgaria

  • Poultry breeding has a major share in livestock breeding in Bulgaria. In 2010, about 49% of total meat production came from the poultry sector
  • Bulgaria has a long tradition in livestock breeding and meat processing
  • Local producers use some unique recipes for salami, flat sausage (soudjuk) and other meat products. At present, the country holds the protected geographical indication for an authentic product: the flat sausage from Gorna Oryahovitsa (Gornooryahovski sudjuk), and is in the process of receiving the EU protected geographical indication for 7 more meat products
  • The meat processing industry features 65 plants processing red meat, 30 white-meat slaughterhouses, 283 meat processing plants and meat factories for automated meat cutting, or a total of 378 companies in the industry. Modern processing plants enable local producers to comply with the strictest international and national sanitary requirements


Sugar and confectionery sector

  • The confectionery sector is characterized by long traditions and excellent quality of products
  • In recent years, the sector attracted significant foreign investment from companies such as Nestle and Kraft Foods which established their own production capacity in the country
  • Sugar is one of the country's main export products. Bulgaria exports about 140 000 tonnes per year

Bread and farinaceous products

  • The market for farinaceous products in Bulgaria is quite fragmented. 60% of the products for this sector comes out of small and medium-sized companies. The sector is expected to consolidate in the near future
  • The sector has a strong export orientation


Wine making sector

Bulgaria - one of the largest exporters of wine in the world

  • Almost the whole territory of Bulgaria is suitable for the production of wine, with its distinct wine-growing regions established in the country
  • According to the registered winemakers, vintage 2013 amounted to 1,724,469 hectoliters, which is 36% more than 2012
  • Of these, 967 732 hectoliters (56%) are red and rosé wines and 756 738 hectoliters (44%) - white wines
  • Bulgaria has more than 220 industrial wineries with a total capacity of 710 million litres
  • Bulgaria now ranks among the 20 largest wine exporters in the world

In the 70s and 80s of the last century, Bulgaria was the second biggest exporter of bottled wine in the world, bettered only by France.





Sugar levels


Acidity level (g/dm3)


East and South-East region

Fruity, light, rustic

black, for production of red light table wines

18 – 24



South region

Pleasant aroma of wild berries and spice

Red, for the production of dark ruby full-bodied red wines

17 – 23

6.1 to 10.7


North region

The full-bodied taste of Nebbiolo  and the spicy peppery aroma of Syrah

Bluish-black colour, for production of high-quality
dessert and table wines

23 - 34


Broad Leaved Vine of Melnik

South-West region

Intensive aroma dominated by the fruity taste of cherry, with sufficient body and typical spicy tang

Purple, for production of strongg red wines with cherry colour

20 - 24



North region

Earthy, light red wines with strong tanin and fruity flavour

Dark bluish-black, for production of light ruby-coloured wines

19 - 22



South region

These grapes are juicy, tasty and fresh, with vanilla after-taste

Green, for production of white table wines and a high-quality component for brandy/rakiya




South region

Harmonious taste and pleasant Misket aroma, dry, with trace of apricot, wild strawberries and honey

Pinkish-red to violet, for the production of table
wines със straw yellow colour

18 - 21


Source: Interviews with company management


Water and non-alcoholic drinks

  • The production of bottled water and soft drinks is well developed in Bulgaria; the country boasts many high-quality manufacturers in this sector
  • The consumption of soft drinks per capita is still relatively low compared with other countries in Western and even Central Europe
  • 44 brands of water are currently marketed
  • More than 250 deposits of mineral water (France - 64, Spain - 89). The capacity of the deposits is between 0.5 and 63 l/sec. The total capacity exceeds 3 100 l/sec. Depth - 400-1 500 m. Temperature- 13 0C to 1020C
  • The share of mineral water is 27.5% of the soft drinks market
  • The sector for the manufacture of beverages includes about 4% of industrial production in this country and also creates about 4% of value added in industry


  • Long tradition: the first brewery opened in Bulgaria in 1882
  • Three of the leading international manufacturers from the industry are present in the Bulgarian market
  • The sector employs about 10 000 people


Organic farming. In harmony with nature

  • About 90% of the land in Bulgaria is suitable for organic farming
  • Bulgaria banned the production of GMO products
  • In recent years, there has been a trend of significant growth both in the supply and the demand for organic food and organic products in Bulgaria. The range of organic products in the domestic market has increased from 1 400 to over 2 600 products during the past year. Organic products produced in Bulgaria include dairy products, honey, herbs and tea, fresh and canned vegetables, spices, nuts
  • More than 90% of domestic production is exported to Germany, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands
  • According to the organization Organic Europe, in 2004 certified organic production in Bulgaria uses only about 12 000 hectares. According to the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, this figure should increase significantly in the future