EU help to build trade and weather the pandemic: the Armenian business selling dried fruit to the world while supporting the community

03-05-2021

When Arkady Khachikyan gave up his career as a teacher, he saw it as much more than just a bold career shift. A new university graduate, Khachikyan decided to move from the capital Yerevan to the historic Armenian town of Yervandashat, where his family had long been involved in dried fruit production.

Located near the Turkish border, Yervandashat lies on the bank of the Arax River. The town is renowned for its vast orchards and the longest history of dried fruits ever produced in Armenia. Some were even unearthed in King Yervand’s hunting lodge during archaeological excavations.

The passion for farming and drying fruit ran in the family. Driven by the desire to stay true to his heritage, Khachikyan worked to plant new orchards while other villagers were destroying old ones to grow vegetables. Soon, he set up a small company called Satenie, which created new jobs in the community and even attracted seasonal workers from the northern regions of Armenia. Inspired by the history of Yervandashat, Khachikyan’s brand was based on the story of the village as a cradle of dried fruit production.

With every passing year, the company expanded production volumes, starting with exports to Russia, the US and Poland, among other countries. But the company really stepped up a gear with the support of the Ready to Trade project, funded by the European Union under its EU4Business initiative, and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The project helped Satenie to develop a new product line and a brand identity, while supporting the company to build new partnerships during a major European trade show and a study tour to South Africa.

“Like most companies, we’ve had our ups and downs,” says Khachikyan. “We started as low as 300 kilos and gradually boosted annual production volume to tonnes of dried fruit.”

“2020 was quite challenging for us and many other producers, too,” notes Khachikyan. “The EU support has been a great help to us in creating a new vision to overcome the repercussions of the pandemic. The tour to South Africa in early 2020 inspired us to start a line of dried fruit products in addition to dried fruit. To diversify our products and create new revenue streams, we’re now making dried fruit candies from fruit that is unfit for sale. These candies are good both for domestic consumption and export.”

Satenie will soon introduce a bold brand identity and packaging for its new product line, developed as part of the Ready to Trade project. Branding will help the company navigate through the economic challenges of the pandemic by promoting the new products as healthful energy-boosting snacks.

Today, Yervandashat is one of the most prosperous villages in Armenia, not least thanks to Satenie’s contribution. Satenie is committed to working to promote the unique story of Yervandashat and have a lasting impact on its future development.

Check out the funding opportunities offered by the EU4Business initiative, supporting local entrepreneurs in Armenia.