The Business Year

Farid Musayev

AZERBAIJAN - Agriculture

From Our Land

CEO, AZGRANATA

Bio

Farid Musayev was born in 1982. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Baku State University in Applied Math and Economics and a Master’s degree in Finance from Khazar University. He has an MBA from London Business School and Columbia Business School. He started his career at ENI/Saipem as a Project Analyst. He then became Director of the Economic and Trade Relations Department at the Embassy of Israel in Azerbaijan. He has extensive experience in working with companies in diverse industries as a part of the Azerbaijan Investment Company as the Chief Investment Officer. He later became the Commercial Manager at the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). From 2011 to the present, he has served as CEO of AZGRANATA.

What was the idea behind starting AZGRANATA, and what strategy has guided your expansion and diversification? The main idea was to launch a factory in the region that would support […]

What was the idea behind starting AZGRANATA, and what strategy has guided your expansion and diversification?

The main idea was to launch a factory in the region that would support regional development, create new jobs, support local farmers, introduce modern agricultural growing technologies to Azerbaijan, decrease the country’s reliance on imports, and promote pomegranate products globally. The guiding idea was natural consumer demand for quality products, regional development, and more investment in human resources that lead to expansion. In order to become competitive in the local market and also to eliminate the risks associated with reliance on one product, we aim to diversify our product portfolio.

Does the Azerbaijani brand and export image impact your sales, and how is AZGRANATA striving to improve the “Made in Azerbaijan” trademark abroad?

We have faced no constraints regarding the Azerbaijani brand or export image in foreign markets. Azerbaijan is famous for pomegranate and other fruit throughout the world. That has helped us to some extent when we sought to enter foreign markets. In order to improve the “Made in Azerbaijan” trademark, we produce and sell only the highest-quality products, participate at global trade fairs, and attend business forums abroad. We partner and cooperate with global and reputable companies exclusively in order to strengthen our operations and increase the trust of our consumers and customers. AZGRANATA always supports its clients in their regional markets in promotion of the “Made in Azerbaijan” trademark. Locally, we organize visits to our factory and introduce our production facilities and processes to our partners and final consumers.

How would you describe the market for FMCGs in Azerbaijan, and how do you intend to place your products ahead of well-established multinational brands?

The FMCG market in Azerbaijan is very competitive, as there are many local and foreign players at work. Currently, due to an increase in the population’s income, demand for high-quality FMCG products is increasing and thus attracting new players and products to the market. We make our marketing plan decisions based on extensive research, so we are aware of consumer demand and try to offer a supply that matches it. We also differentiate our products in markets by price and the fact that they are sourced locally. AZGRANATA works to produce goods for several consumer segments that differ in taste and income level. However, we never compromise when it comes to quality. In addition, we position ourselves as producers of organic and natural products.

“We partner and cooperate with global and reputable companies exclusively in order to strengthen our operations.”

What is the penetration rate of your products in Azerbaijan, and what percentage of your products is exported?

Despite only launching sales operations in September 2011, our local market penetration is almost 100% to date. It is possible to find our products at every sales point in Azerbaijan. We began exporting at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. Since then, our exports have shown an increasing trend. Today, exports account for 10% of our general sales. In addition, our products are sold in the CIS, the US, the UAE, and more than 10 European countries including Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the UK.

How do you envisage the increasing awareness of your products in new markets?

Pomegranate juice is very famous for its health benefits, and consumption rates are growing around the world. In order to match this growth, we will participate in exhibitions, continue searching for new markets, and support our clients abroad. Our pomegranate juices have been certified organic by the German Lacon GmbH institute, are kosher, and have ISO 22000:2005 accreditation. By continuously investing in promotion abroad, we aim to increase the awareness of our products and highlight the “Made in Azerbaijan” trademark.

How would you rate Azerbaijan as a production base for consumer goods?

Azerbaijan has a lot of perspectives due to its environmental and geographical location. Azerbaijani agriculture is growing and able to supply production companies with raw materials. Also, high literacy levels in Azerbaijan puts it ahead in finding skillful and knowledgeable human resources, which are extremely important to produce goods of high quality.

What have been the most significant changes to the investment landscape for FMCG goods in Azerbaijan during the administration of President Aliyev?

During the tenure of President Aliyev, a significant amount of new FMCG-manufacturing organizations were opened and restructured. The government launched many different support programs to establish local manufacturing organizations, increase local production, and encourage exports. The main purpose of supporting local manufacturers was to decrease external dependence on the FMCG market. Moreover, strengthening competition caused the consistent increase in the production of high-quality products, all of them affecting the consumers’ well being. President Aliyev attended the opening ceremony of our factory, and the visit was very important to us. His vision is to increase exports and he encouraged us to focus on exports. Following such a vision, we are already exporting to close to 20 countries, and we are looking forward to increasing that number to 40 by the end of 2013.

Looking forward to 2013, what are your growth objectives for AZGRANATA, and which markets are you targeting for future expansion?

Our main focus will remain exports. We plan to invest in promoting our products abroad. We will embark on export enhancement by opening regional distribution centers in the CIS, Europe, the US, and the Middle East. Furthermore, we will support our clients in promoting our brands in their local markets. We also plan to diversify our product portfolio even more by introducing new products in 2013, such as compote, pomegranate syrup, and jam and pomegranate wine, which are unique to Azerbaijan. These products will also become a competitive advantage for the company.

What is your medium-term outlook for AZGRANATA?

We aim to increase our exports in the medium term. We will position ourselves as an organic product supplier throughout the accessible markets. In addition, we plan to expand in related agricultural sectors by investing in fruit gardens, developing best-practice growing systems, improving cold storage, and furthering our fruit processing activity.

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