Chemical production in Croatia

MachinesTechnical ArticlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 4/2022 • 08.11.2022

Croatia is the birthplace of two Nobel laureates in chemistry, Lavoslav Ruzicka and Vladimir Prelog. The industry has a long tradition there and an experienced and well-educated work force. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals, together with plastics and rubber processing are an integral part of the Croatian economy. Production spans pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, soaps, detergents, polymers, plastics and rubber products, fertilizers, agrochemicals, paints, varnishes and similar coatings, printing ink and ?llers, industrial gases, glues and explosives.


The chemical industry is concentrated around larger towns, especially Zagreb, and generated revenues of EUR 812 million in 2020, 3,5% of the manufacturing industry total. Its 400 companies employed 5654 people.

Pharmaceuticals employ another 5225 people across 58 companies that generated revenues of EUR 1,016 million, 4,3% of the manufacturing industry total. Plastics and rubber had EUR 893 million of revenues in 2020, spread across 794 registered companies employing 10 390 workers.
Most companies are SMEs (380) and they mostly serve the domestic market. They are busy restructuring and modernising production processes to meet European standards, reduce operating costs and achieve international quality certi?cation.

Many companies, especially larger ones, are also export-oriented mostly to countries in the same region. In 2020 chemicals export was EUR 816 million, pharmaceuticals export was EUR 1,065 million and plastics and rubber export was EUR 489 million.

Strengths of the Croatian chemical sector include: long history and tradition; highly skilled work-force; advanced technology; high-quality and price-competitive products; excellent geostrategic location within Europe with access to Central Europe, the Mediterranean and three Pan-European corridors; seaports and most modern transport infrastructure in the region; rising domestic demand. Among the industry’s weaknesses are: dependence on imported raw materials; uncertainty over fuel supplies; high energy and logistic costs; lack of investment in new and innovative products; insu?cient investment in marketing; inadequate links between companies and research institutions to develop new products and improve technology; high cost of taxes, levies and utility charges; pressure to increase tax take from heavy public sector de?cit; high administrative and regulatory burden.


Growth potential

Two national initiatives, the Croatian Industrial Strategy 2014 – 2020 and the Croatian Smart Specialisation Strategy, should help the chemical industry increase competitiveness and innovation, thereby retaining or creating jobs. Universities and research institutes are working with industry organisations, under the umbrella of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, to strengthen co-operation between science and chemical industry sectors to increase competitiveness.

There are many opportunities for growth of the chemical industry in Croatia. Consumption of most chemical products per capita in Croatia has not yet reached EU levels. The production structure of the chemical industry should be changed to boost the competitiveness of the Croatian chemical industry, and to move toward the production of high value added products. The chemical industry’s assets are a highly skilled labour force supported by good scientists and an excellent geostrategic location.



Petrokemija produces mineral fertilizers using natural mineral raw materials, natural gas, atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen. In its 50 years of existence in Kutina, Petrokemija has produced and sold more than 50 million tons of mineral fertilizers worldwide. Pertrokemija offers several types of products and services. Along with the granular and prilled mineral fertilizers, which are in the main field of production offerings, there are also liquid mineral fertilizers, mineral fertilizers in a small package, casting and construction products, animal feed supplements and hygienic litter for cats and other pets.



Saponia is a firm based in Osijek that produces detergents, hygiene products, and industrial sanitation and cleaning products. Saponia was founded in 1894 as the first soap manufacturer in the Osijek region. The firm continued to operate independently until it was acquisitioned by the Bosnia and Herzegovina based company Mepas. It offers to the market more than 500 different products separated in three basic product groups: detergents for mass consumption (laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dish detergents, cleaning agents); personal hygiene products (toothpastes, toothbrushes, soaps, shampoos, baby care products, sun tanning products); agents for industrial and institution use (products for cleaning and disinfection in various institutions and industrial corporations).


Messer Croatia Plin

Messer Croatia Plin is a Croatian supplier of industrial gases. It supplies oxygen, nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium, inert welding gases, gases for medicinal use and others. The company is part of Messer Austria.


Scott Bader Croatia

Scott Bader Croatia was established in 2006 after becoming the owner of Chromos tvornica smola d.d. The company manufactures polyester, vinyl ester, alkyd and acrylic resins and sells mostly in central and Eastern Europe, including Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, UK, France and Portugal.


Ireks Aroma

Ireks Aroma is the successor of Chromos Aroma, founded in the early fifties. After privatization in the middle of 1993, Chromos Aroma became a daughter company of IREKS from Kulmbach, one of the leading producers of improvers and special mixtures for bread, pastries and confectionery. Dynamic development and long-term cooperation with numerous well-known global manufacturers, as well as high product quality, along with a professional approach, have enabled Ireks Aroma to play a leading role on the market in all production programs.

Modernly built plants in Jastrebarski for the production of additives and mixtures for bakery and confectionery products, meat products and animal feed, plants for the processing of medicinal and aromatic plants in Dragovanjscak near Jastrebarski, as well as plants for the production of fragrant compositions and aromas in Jastrebarski, with appropriate development laboratories and controls, ensure continuous quality of the company’s products at the highest level.


Chromos Svjetlost

Chromos Svjetlost is located in Luzani, a village near Slavonski Brod. Over 100 years of tradition in paint manufacturing and an ideal location with excellent transportation connections through the highly-developed road and railway infrastructure have proven to be excellent foundations for the operation and development of the company. Its continuous noteworthy business growth began in mid-1990’s. Exceptional product quality and a good retail network helped it become the Croatian market leader in paint and varnish production, the company claims. Constant work on maintenance and development of these two business segments helped Chromos Svjetlost improve its business results year after year. The company’s machine tinting system guarantees quality competitive both in domestic and the international markets.

Major investments in product development and improvement of existing products have resulted in a wide array of new products which compete against some of the biggest paint and varnish manufacturers on the market. The company states that the quality of its products has also been recognized in demanding foreign markets, and its exports are on the rise. Skilled employees and a top-of-the-line development centre enable it to look towards the future with certainty. Following Croatia’s accession to the EU, Chromos Svjetlost has successfully extended its market to other member states.



For over 70 years, Labud has been a leading Croatian detergent and cleaning product manufacturer. In 2015, Labud became a member of the Meteor Group, which assumed the majority ownership of the company. After a successful restructuring and consolidation of the company operations carried out by the Meteor Group, Labud built the foundations for further successful development and business growth. The very next year, Labud increased its revenues and profits, starting a new chapter in its rich history.