Mihai Anghel, today the biggest Romanian farmer, has come to do business in agriculture by accident. With more than 25 thousand hectares in operation, Mihai Anghel is the main supplier of wheat to the Egyptian state.
„This is where life brought me,“ said Mihai Anghel when asked how he got into doing business in agriculture. He started out in business with his wedding money. After he graduated he worked for two automotive factories. After the revolution he stepped into business by opening a company dealing with the sale of auto parts. He then diversified his activity, entering tire trading, selling spare parts for tractors and agricultural gear. „Out of the first deal, in which I sold Dacia car rims, I won 15,000 lei. My salary back then was 3,500 lei a month“, Anghel remembers. The first profits were targeted exclusively for survival, under no circumstances for business growth, he recalls.
He ended up selling wheat out of a mistake. He had to recover money from a farmer who went into payment default and chose to pay his debt with the harvested goods. „It was in 1993 when I sold the first grain harvest to a silo in Portăreşti, Dolj County. It wasn‘t my wheat, „ says the businessman.
It was the first signal that this business could be more profitable. And he risked it. In 1996, he bought the first piece of land and concluded the first lease contracts. There were about 1,200 hectares in total. „I went wheat, sunflower and maize,“ the owner of Cerealcom says. From that moment on, the business direction was a clear one.
The first grain export was made in 1997 to France. He said the cargo didn‘t even leave the country before he sold 5,000 tons of barley to a friend who further on sent it to the West. Today Anghel has expanded his storage capacity to 50,000 tons and invested in performing machines. Since 2016 Cerealcom has become the only accredited Romanian firm to export wheat directly to the Egyptian state. „The company also exports to Jordan, Turkey or the Arab Emirates.
„Half of Jordanians have eaten bread made with Romanian wheat. It‘s an achievement, he points out. Cerealcom Dolj concluded the year 2017 with a turnover of about 738 million lei (EUR 162 million), down 16% compared to the previous year. The company trades about 1 million tons of grains a year, both from its own production and from other farmers. In 2017 Mihai Anghel purchased a silo with a storage capacity of 57,000 tons in Topolovăţul Mare from Cerealcom Timis, a silo that he consolidated, revamped and refurbished at the end of last year.
In vino veritas
In addition to harvesting more than 25 thousand hectares, the Anghel family is also present on the wine market, through Domeniile Coroanei, which brings annual revenues of about EUR 10 million. The vine plantation at Segarcea is spread over an area of 300 hectares. Throughout the group, the Anghel family has 700 permanent employees and about 100 seasonal employees. Asked if he plans to invest in other areas, such as tourism or real estate, Anghel says that is not the case. „I think there‘s still a lot to be done until I consider what we‘re doing today is right,“ the businessman says. His wines entered the market in Norway and in the Orient. Anghel invested in the plantation and in the wine cellar Segarcea about EUR 30 million in the first six years. The 300 hectares planted with vines bring the businessman every year two million bottles of wine, the product being ranked on the upper segment.
This means that annual wine proceeds of the Segarcea wine cellar amount to 40 million lei (about EUR 10 million). His wines were awarded two golden and one silver medals at the Challenge International du Vin, which took place at the beginning of April this year in Bordeaux, France. The three Romanian wines were awarded after 4,360 wines from 28 countries were subject to tasting.