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Azerbaijan’s countryside is not as renowned as it might be to foreigners, an unusual truth considering the beauty, range of climates, and quality of produce. The agricultural sector has become […]

Azerbaijan’s countryside is not as renowned as it might be to foreigners, an unusual truth considering the beauty, range of climates, and quality of produce. The agricultural sector has become less reliant on imports, not only due to the expansion of the sector, but more importantly due to modernization and an increasing number of bi-products. Karat Holding, along with its subsidiary, Karmen, has developed a strong reputation, both for the quality of its produce and the holding’s expertise.

Karat Holding started as a small family business in 1994, and, like Azerbaijan, has developed in a multitude of ways. Beginning by trading agricultural produce, it became obvious that there was potential to expand. In addition to importing, Karat Holding started processing and initiated its own grain-grinding facility in order to start producing wheat flour. Production, however, was never enough for Karat Holding. Understanding that the market required a diversity of bi-products, the holding set about branching out into new markets.

Feasibility studies suggested that they could move into the pasta market, which was, at the time, fairly unknown in Azerbaijan. This proved highly successful as the per capita consumption rate increased by 80% in Azerbaijan. It was an experiment that paid off, demonstrating that people’s food habits were beginning to change and diversify due to Azerbaijan’s increasing exposure to global influences and cultures.

The greatest success of Karat Holding came with the opening up of their export market. Having initially been purely a distributor of imported goods, it was a landmark step in the evolution of the company. CIS countries were the initial target markets; however, there has also been some important expansion further afield with its “Made in Azerbaijan“ brand making good ground in the Philippines and Western Africa; markets that are often untapped by Azerbaijani producers. With operations also established in Russia and Georgia, Karat Holding has demonstrated a distinct policy to continue creating grounds for development and innovation.

Engaged as a moderator in the forum engaging private sector in agri-food chain development in February 2014, Karat Holding is now taking serious steps to develop the agri-food chain from the point of view of SME development. The agricultural sector has been given significant government due to the President’s decision to make 2015 the Year of Agriculture. However, this will also put a great deal of pressure on the sector to ensure that it fulfills national expectations for development, not only in terms of revenue, but also in terms of accessibility and modernity. Karat Holding’s presence at the event was noticeable due to the fact that it was alongside some important names in the industry including Azerbaijani Aqrar Credit as well as The National Rural Organization of Albania.

The State Materials Reserve Agency has also started purchasing grain from a number of farms including from Karat Holding. The government agency is strict on its quality management, which is a testament to Karat Holding that they are a trusted partner. With this announcement having been made in July 2014, Karat will be aiming to continue to contribute to the Reserve Agency and play a role not only in supporting Azerbaijan’s food security, but also in reducing the national need for imported grain.

With operations already well established in Georgia, and plans to expand operations significantly in the region as well, Karat Holding has proven itself as a reliable name in Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector. Government support in 2015, as well as a shrewd sense of the market, is bringing Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector to new levels of quality and development, in which Karat Holding can play a prominent role.

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