CORK, Ireland – Kwayga, the leading online matching platform for national and international B2B buyers and suppliers within the food and beverage industry, has announced that it will be offering one year free premium membership to its platform to Ukrainian food and beverage suppliers as a way of supporting the industry during the ongoing conflict with Russia.
The announcement came during the recent webinar hosted by Kwayga called ‘Ukraine is open for business’ and included speakers such as Taras Kachka, Deputy Minister of Trade Representative at the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine, Larysa Gerasko, Ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland and Mariia Dehtiarova, Export Promotion Manager at U-Food Association, whose mission it is to develop and promote Ukrainian food worldwide.
Kwayga supports Ukrainian businesses
The webinar, which took place on September 8th, heard from speakers who discussed the outlook of the Ukrainian economy and the export market over the next 6 months.
Agricultural products remain one of the key exports for Ukraine and it is estimated that the conflict with Russia cost €4.29 billion worth of damage to the country’s agricultural sector.
Since the lifting of blockades on Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea in July, 90 ships carrying 200 million tonnes of Ukrainian agricultural products have left ports with destinations of 18 countries worldwide including 33,000 tonnes of corn to Ireland.
In August of this year, Ukrainian exports increased in value by 13.9% to $3.3bn but despite this, this figure was only half of the total from January of this year with the majority of exports going to the EU ($2.3bn) with neighbouring states such as Poland and Romania the leading destinations.
Ukraine’s direct exports to Ireland accounted for $7m in August of this year from a low of $256,000 in May. Exports to the rest of the world decreased by 80% but the opening of sea channels has led to a gradual restoration of trading between Ukraine and destinations such as China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to levels of approximately $1bn.
While agricultural products are the key exports for Ukraine, which includes cereals and grains including wheat, sunflower seeds and corn, the fishing industry is also actively developing and between 2017 and 2021 the value of exports in this sector grew by 21%.
The fishing industry
One of the key attributes is down to companies having their own fishing boats, which are equipped with freezing and cooling facilities and meaning high quality goods are delivered. In terms of trading between Ukraine and the EU from 2017 to 2021, there was double digit increases across the board in the value of exports of all major food products including fruits and nut (+51%), sugar and sugar confectionary (+49%) and chocolate confectionary (+49%).
The movement of people out of Ukraine across Europe has driven demand for Ukrainian products and while exports figures are not yet at a pre-conflict stage, they are developing and expanding strongly despite the current backdrop.
The leading product that is in demand by Ukrainians living abroad is confectionaries such as sweets, cookies and gingerbread. Instant porridge, juices and carbonated drinks are also sought after products by the Ukrainian diaspora.
Food producers in Ukraine have faced a number of challenges including difficulties in logistics and a lack of working capital but despite this they have completed the 2022 sowing season, developed alternative logistic routes and restored the production and development and exportation of agricultural and food products.
These products still dominate Ukraine’s export market and exceeded 44% in the first half of 2022.
Ukraine remains the world’s leading exporter of sunflower oil. Over the past year, they produced 6.45m tonnes of sunflower oil, which was 30.5% of the world’s total sunflower production with the volume of exports at 5.75m tonnes, which is almost half (47.26%) of global sales of the product.
They are also producing value-added products that may not naturally be associated with the country including vegetarian meat-free goods, plant based milk and mineral water.
During the webinar, Derek McGuinness, Standby Partner (expert on mission) at the World Food Programme, discussed his work along the trading borders across Ukraine, including Slovakia and Hungary and custom workers have said that trading has got back to normal pre-conflict levels in terms of the number of vehicles looking to cross over.
The premium membership
However, there are still some delays at border crossings due to trucks arriving with unsealed grain containers, which were usually delivered by sea. Custom workers have to do a full inspection of these loads, which takes a considerable amount of time (majority of the day) compared to sealed goods (45 minutes to one hour) and are already at full capacity due to understaffing at border crossings.
Speaking on the announcement, Mike McGrath, Kwayga CEO and co-founder said, “We’re happy to offer a 12 month free premium membership to our platform to any suppliers within the Ukrainian food and beverage industry. We’re happy to play a small part in assisting businesses in the Ukraine to get back on their feet and ensure they have support in exporting and importing products across the EU and beyond.”
Mike McGrath continues: “We expect Ukrainian products to be on supermarket shelves by the start of 2023 as refugees across the continent desire home comforts and products that they are familiar with. Kwayga is the ideal platform to assist businesses in Ireland and across Europe to obtain such products from trusted Ukrainian suppliers and be able to play a role in offering Ukrainian people a taste of home while the horrific conflict with Russia continues in their homeland. Our platform is easy to use and our messaging centre offers a live translation service which makes communication across multiple regions stress free.”