HomeHorticultural businessStoriesUkrainian farmer exports blueberries directly to leading supermarkets in Germany, Spain and Luxembourg
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Ukrainian farmer exports blueberries directly to leading supermarkets in Germany, Spain and Luxembourg

According to EastFruit, Ukrainian growers of fresh fruits and berries continue to expand to the most demanding world markets in extremely difficult conditions of the Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, Everyone in the fresh produce business understands how difficult it is to get onto the supermarket shelves in Germany, and direct supplies to the chains was deemed impossible.

What if we say that a Ukrainian grower of fresh berries was able to deliver its produce directly to the EDEKA supermarket chain, one of the leading premium supermarket chains in Europe? What if the same producer supplied fresh berries to Auchan and Cora supermarket chains in Luxembourg, one of the most expensive EU countries with very tough competition and high requirements for product quality and safety? And what if we say that the Ukrainian fresh berries were positioned on premium shelves under the brand of the Ukrainian farmer? How about the systematic exports of Ukrainian blueberries to Spain itself – the country that is the European leader in the production of blueberries?!

Yes, these are all real achievements of one of the leading Ukrainian blueberry producers, Nikdaria LLC (TM iBerry) in 2023! And this is something that Ukraine can be proud of, because the company’s management has been working on reaching this level for many years. We have repeatedly written about the company’s innovations in the past.

In 2020, the company purchased the first optical line for sorting blueberries in Ukraine, when most market participants considered such investments impractical. By the way, in the same year, we organized a study trip to this innovative enterprise, where participants could see many novelties and elements of digital technologies. Nikdaria used the best global practices and was preparing for exports to the most demanding produce markets, using the latest technological advances, and most importantly, actively shared its own experience with all interested parties.

The director of strategy and development of the company Yevhen Kharlan took an active part in the trade missions of the FAO and EBRD Export Development Project, which allowed Ukraine to make the first historic export deliveries of blueberries by plane from Ukraine to the UAE and Singapore and gain a foothold in this difficult market.  Nikdaria LLC is preparing to make another real export breakthrough in 2024, active preparations for which are already underway today.

“The rapid increase in blueberry production in Ukraine leads to a gradual decline in domestic prices. That is why 5 years ago, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Horticultural Association (UHA), we started preparing the industry for export expansion. As can be seen from the price graphs above, our forecasts are coming true, and the strategy was correct – over these years, the domestic price of blueberries in Ukraine has dropped more than twofold. It is nice that Nikdaria LLC was one of the first companies that supported our initiatives and believed in the market forecasts. And I am extremely happy to see that the process of export development did not stop even after the completion of the project,” says Andriy Yarmak, economist of the Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Yevhen Kharlan also draws attention to the difficulties in exports compared to domestic market sales. “First of all, we have huge difficulties with the transit of blueberries through Poland – it is always cheaper for all Ukrainian exporters to transit their products through other countries, even if the distance is longer. Polish customs do everything possible and impossible to hold a car with Ukrainian fresh berries for the maximum amount of time, knowing that it is a perishable product. After all, Poland is very afraid of competition from Ukraine on the EU market. For me personally, this attitude is a recognition of our success and high-level competitiveness. And a frightened competitor is already half the victory,” says Yevhen.

He also notes the labor shortage, difficulties with export promotion in wartime conditions, and the short-sightedness of many Ukrainian growers in their approach to exports. “Many Ukrainian farmers, as soon as the price of blueberries on the domestic market stabilized and strengthened in the second half of August 2023, immediately ceased to be interested in exports, although in July they literally begged for help with exports. This is a very big and common mistake, because one needs to be relations with the client to assure sustainable exports at a high price. It is also very difficult for us to deal with exports now, because traveling from Ukraine to visit the clients is essential, but with the lack of flights from Ukraine and travel restrictions for men make this extremely complicated and time consuming. In the meantime we are experiencing a terrible shortage of pickers and workers for our sorting and packing lines, despite very high hourly rates paid,” adds the representative of Nikdaria LLC.

We should also note that, even though it is already September, the company continues the blueberry export season, and in the future plans to extend it even more due to the introduction of new technological innovations and new varieties of blueberries.

EastFruit

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