HomeHorticultural businessInterviewsHow retail copes with fresh produce sourcing during the war in Ukraine?

How retail copes with fresh produce sourcing during the war in Ukraine?

How has the geography of suppliers to the fruit and vegetable departments of Ukrainian supermarkets changed due to the war? Has it become harder or easier for Ukrainian farmers to enter the network? Are Ukrainian farmers ready for EU standards and requirements?

With these questions, EastFruit has contacted Kateryna Nichayeva, Fresh Department Director at VARUS retail chain (Ukraine).

– Do the requirements of Ukrainian supermarkets for suppliers of vegetables and fruits differ from the requirements of supermarkets in the EU? In your opinion, are Ukrainian farmers ready for EU standards and requirements?

– Ukrainian supermarkets’ requirements do not differ much from those in the EU. Many Ukrainian growers and farmers are already selling for export and supply goods to EU countries, and the share of exports increases annually.

Growers and supermarkets, with VARUS as no exception, have implemented global safety standards (HACCP). As for the quality requirements at acceptance stage, they are now different in Ukrainian retail chains, but most of the criteria meet the requirements of European standards, in some cases even exceeding them.

Of course, it is more difficult for our growers, whose production is not fully automated, to comply with narrow standards for product calibration, but this is not an advantage for organizing supplies in accordance with EU standards.

– Has it become harder or easier for Ukrainian farmers to start collaboration with you? How do you choose suppliers?

– Of course, the Ukrainian market is our sourcing priority, and we consider cooperation with all Ukrainian growers.

Our company’s policy implies that we always conduct open and honest work, both with large suppliers and with small farms.

The main criterion for choosing suppliers for us is the quality of the product, its varietal characteristics and price. The VARUS team provides growers with all the necessary information, both at the time of planting the product and buying seeds, and at the time of concluding contracts and organizing supplies.

Read also: Apple prices in Ukraine surged – what’s the longer term price forecast?

– How has the geography of suppliers changed due to the war? This question concerns both imported and local vegetables and fruits.

– Due to the war, our sourcing geography has of course changed by shifting from previously usual South (Kherson Oblast) to Odesa, Mykolaiv Oblasts, and western part of Ukraine. In 2023, our sourcing capacity has almost completely recovered in central part of Ukraine and Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

Regarding imports, the main pool of our suppliers remained the same, except for those from sanctioned countries. Also we have partially reduced the supply volumes from countries with complicated logistics (longer transportation and increased risks of losing product quality).


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