In 2020, liquid fertilizer producer IKAR, operating in the Kėdainiai Free Economic Zone, has created several new liquid fertilizer formulations and has begun producing them. The number of employees at the production unit grew by 20 per cent during the summer, and sales grew by 30 per cent. As the pandemic continues, the company intends to continue moving in the same direction, but speaks cautiously about specific plans.
Nikolajus Gurskis, the company’s head of marketing, points out that the agricultural sector has been one of the least impacted by the pandemic. Farmers looking to increase their harvest bought the company’s liquid fertilizer, distinctive for their high quality and effectiveness. In 2020, the company created new liquid fertilizer formulations to add to its existing list of fertilizers, and began producing the new formulations.
The company’s sales unit, unable to travel to other countries to meet with current and prospective clients, set up a specialised studio, where video conferences constantly take place. Gurskis says, “There are countries where video conferences are simply not enough to earn trust when negotiating with potential clients. On the other hand, I am happy to report that we have in fact succeeded. True professionals work in our sales unit, so even during this difficult period they have managed to find clients in new markets”.
Preparing for the first wave of Covid-19 and foreseeing potential disruptions to the movement of goods from one country to another, IKAR staff ensured the supply of raw materials necessary for timely production. The company is prepared to operate through the pandemic; considerable resources have been allocated to safety: requirements are strictly followed, facilities are regularly disinfected, drivers arriving to pick up cargo are not even permitted to leave their vehicles, to avoid any contact with the company’s employees. Administrative personnel may work from home.
Gurskis emphasizes that during the pandemic, the company has succeeded in continuing to enter the Western European market, making contacts with German, Czech and even Italian companies. “It is noteworthy that Italy is the largest and most important fertilizer producer in Europe, but we have managed to find a niche and export IKAR fertilizer to that country. That’s almost like selling snow to an Eskimo”, Gurskis jokes. The head of marketing adds that new routes for fertilizer export to Western Europe have been opened, and the company has strengthened its positions in Bangladesh and Vietnam.
During the first wave of the pandemic, the IKAR company quickly adapted its filling-sealing equipment and, at another company’s order, produced disinfectant, which at the time was in short supply everywhere in Lithuania. In this way, equipment was put to effective use, and a quantity of much-needed disinfectant was produced for use in the country. To ensure stable growth in production, the company has been helped by targeted and responsibly-used state assistance.