Industrial production of edible oil in the Balkans records its beginnings in Vojvodina town of Vrbas. Enterprising trader Jakob Lenji erected in 1855 in this city, on the banks of the Old channel, the first workshop for oil processing. Nobody could have imagined that by commissioning this rather small plant the foundation for future powerful industrial giant – VITAL factory would be set.
Lenji’s factory began its production of unrefined oil by a press with manual and animal driving force. The predominant raw material was: hemp, pumpkin seeds and rapeseed. Raw oil, until 1929, was not refined in Vrbas, but in Budapest where the Lenji family owned a refinery.
The third and fourth decades of the twentieth century, when the head of the factory was the grandson of the founder, Josif Lenji, were very important for the development of the first oil refinery in the Balkans. During this period the production was considerably modernized, new equipment and refinery were purchased, so the production process of edible oil was fully rounded in Vrbas factory.
First sunflower oil was produced in this oil mill in the thirties of the last century. Since then, the sunflower is the basic raw material in the production and today represents a kind of the emblem of the factory.
At the end of the fifties the factory recorded two important dates. In 1957 the first margarine factory in Serbia was completed and put into operation. Vrbas’ oil mill workers produced that year the first 90 tones of this food. VITAL experienced the fastest growth in the period from 1969 to 1977. During this period, several production units were built on new locations, for which the world’s latest equipment for the production of oil and margarine was imported.