There are no obstacles currently standing in the way of establishing exports of Ukrainian cherries to the Chinese market. However, the volume of premium quality cherries, which is of utmost interest to Chinese consumers, is extremely limited in Ukraine today. In 2018-2019, Ukrainian producers did export cherries to China, but this year export volumes were minimal given the poor harvest in Ukraine. This opinion was expressed by Taras Bashtannik, President of the Ukrainian Horticulture Association (UHA).
Issues related to opportunities, barriers, and risks for Ukrainian fruit and vegetable producers entering the Chinese market will be discussed during the online discussion “Fruit and Vegetable Exports to China: Barriers and Opportunities for Ukrainian Producers“, which will be held on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. on the Zoom platform. This event is free, but all attendees must register online prior to the event.
UHA President Taras Bashtannik calls blueberries the second most promising fruit product in Ukraine for export to China. However, when speaking about blueberry exports, volumes will not sufficiently increase enough in the next couple years. Several years need to be dedicated to the bureaucratic procedures associated with obtaining permits. “Nevertheless, blueberries are in a promising export position. After all, China is a net importer of this berry,” Taras Bashtannik said.
UHA Development Director Katerina Zvereva notes that blueberries are quite an expensive berry on the foreign market. It can currently be transported to China by air meanwhile UHA specialists are also studying the possibility of coordinating railway transportation since this delivery method is 4-5 times cheaper. Ms. Zvereva notes that the season to supply fresh blueberries from Ukraine is July-September. The main export varieties supplied by Ukrainian producers to foreign markets are Duke, Bluegold, Bluecrop, Elliot, and Liberty.
In addition, the frozen berry segment can be considered as a successful example of Ukrainian fruit products entering the Chinese market, according to the UHA Development Director. “This market was opened for a Ukrainian manufacturer two years ago. Last year, the company Rivneholod exported several thousand tons of products to China. This is a fairly large volume, given that the total annual export volume of Ukrainian frozen berries is 22,000-23,000 tons,” says Kateryna Zvereva.
Taras Golub, Advisor to the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, notes, today the issues of establishing food exports are one of the most important. “To speed the establishment of interaction on this topic, we are actively looking for contacts with specialized associations. I see that we have direct opportunities for this. That is why today it is important to understand which priority issues we should focus on,” Taras Golub notes.
In his opinion, it is extremely important to organize a primary dialogue with market players today regarding the establishment of stable exports of Ukrainian products to China. “Firstly, we want to hear their opinions, wishes, and problems. Then, the next stage would be to move on to a substantive dialogue on priority products,” Taras Golub believes.
Mr. Golub also adds that when entering the Chinese market, Ukrainian businesses need to clearly understand their company’s core competencies. “You need to not just look for a partner. It is necessary to establish a network of participants in the chain and maintain good relationships with them so that this chain is not broken. Therefore, today it is important to identify companies interested in exporting certain products to the Chinese market and conduct a dialogue on this issue with the intergovernmental Ukrainian-Chinese commission. After all, if you enlist the support of Chinese government agencies, it will be a completely different level of discussion,” Taras Golub noted.
He also adds that in all likelihood, it is possible to develop a pilot project for the supply of Ukrainian blueberries. “This will be much more effective than attempts by individual companies to discover the Chinese market on their own,” concludes the adviser to the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine.
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