Vahe Ghazaryan

General manager of Euroterm, an IFC client and one of Armenia’s largest producers of fruits, vegetables, and juices.

My father established the company in the 1990s. Since then the company has gone through many difficult times, the most recent one being the 2014 recession in Russia. Sales in that market fell by almost a third.

We needed to diversify our export markets and become an attractive partner for retailers in the European Union. However, we found that having high-quality produce wasn’t enough. Having certification acknowledged by the majority of international players is crucial to accessing the European Union. With support from the IFC Food Safety Advisory, we received certification under a food safety standard recognized by major multinational retailers and manufacturers, FSSC 22000.

This certification has been crucial in mitigating the impact of the recession in Russia on our sales. We not only found new customers, but we strengthened relationships with large Russian supermarket networks, which also greatly value food safety.

The process has also made the company more efficient. Since certification, Euroterm has reduced the cost of defective products by more than 40 percent and the cost of waste management by 15 percent. This has been an especially welcome by-product of the work with IFC. Euroterm’s corporate growth is now steady. The number of employees doubled over the last five years from 180 workers to between 350 and 450, depending on the season.