While presenting at the International Conference “Ukrainian Table Grapes 2022: Moldovan Experience”, Tetyana Shmaglyuchenko, co-owner and manager of the Ukrainian company Shaleni Doli, expressed her concern that under the weight of current problems, Ukrainian viticulture could transform into a “niche, craft production”.
Unfortunately, too much has been added to the industry’s liabilities in 2022. This includes challenges in the provision of fuel for agricultural machinery and other production resources for the implementation of mandatory agrotechnological procedures; huge issues in hiring enough workers for labor-intensive manual operations during mobilization; reduction in the capacity of the domestic market due to the emigration of many solvent consumers, the devaluation of the hryvnia, etc.
Meanwhile, the previous problems have not lost their relevance. In particular, “varietal disgrace”, which EastFruit previously wrote with reference to the author of the term, planting material of bad quality, insufficient distribution of irrigation in the table viticulture industry, difficulties with the cooperation of winegrowers and the formation of large single-varietal batches of grapes of homogeneous quality. According to Tetyana Shmaglyuchenko, for this reason, the main part of the profitability of the grape business in Ukraine “is somewhere between the wholesale market and retail.” Although Ukraine produces a lot of grapes (236 000 tonnes in 2019, 103 000 tonnes in 2021), Ukrainian supermarkets sell mainly imported grapes.
Along with the challenges for Ukrainian viticulture, current difficulties provide opportunities. One of them is the forced prerequisites for import substitution. Ukrainian consumers of table grapes are nevertheless numerous and diverse: for example, in the northern regions, they are used to the taste of white grape varieties, while consumers in the southern regions still buy red grape varieties with seeds.
By the way, this probably “leaves a window of opportunity open” for the “Moldova” grape variety as well. But only for high-quality grapes.
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