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Oil, honey, and vodka. Top Ukrainian products that conquered the world

Photo: unsplash / Arwin Neil Baichoo

Photo: unsplash / Arwin Neil Baichoo

Over the past year and a half, 137 Ukrainian companies have entered foreign markets. For instance, we now export honey and beekeeping products to Qatar, dairy products to Turkey, poultry meat to Liberia, eggs to Japan, and even snails to the UK. The Page has examined where Ukraine exports its products more and why they are popular in the world.

Today, the largest consumers of all Ukrainian agricultural products are China, India, the Netherlands, Egypt, and Turkey. Ukrainian products are also sent to the European Union, China, Great Britain, Poland, and Turkey. And this year, with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and foreign diplomatic institutions of Ukraine, markets have already been opened for 59 commodity groups in 18 countries of the world, or access to markets has been resumed in cooperation with the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection.

Quote"The number of companies in our Exporters and Investors Council under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has almost quadrupled over this year. A year ago there were about a hundred of them. Now it already includes 370 companies and business associations," Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said.

For its part, according to First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy Oleksiy Liubchenko, more than 14,000 Ukrainian companies are currently exporting their products to the EU countries. He noted that the EU is Ukraine's largest trading partner (40.2% of the country's total foreign trade). Therefore, Ukraine has become the fourth largest supplier of agricultural products in the EU, second only to the UK, Brazil, and the United States. In just the last seven years, Ukrainian exports to the European Union have increased by 60%.

Top trade partners of Ukraine in the export of goods in 2020 (data from State Statistics Service of Ukraine):

  • EU—$18.6 million;
  • China—$7.1 million;
  • Russia—$2.7 million;
  • Turkey—$2.4 million;
  • India—$1.9 million;
  • Egypt—$1.6 million;
  • Belarus—$1.3 million;
  • USA—$983 thousand;
  • Indonesia—$735,000;
  • Saudi Arabia—$719,000.

Top products for export

Everything that our agrarians produce and sell is divided into two groups: raw materials and products with high added value. It is the latter one that helps Ukrainian exporters earn more and enter new sales markets.

What food products are most exported from Ukraine?

  • sunflower oil;
  • corn;
  • wheat;
  • rapeseed;
  • soya beans;
  • barley;
  • poultry meat;
  • sugar;
  • chocolate;
  • soybean oil;
  • meat;
  • honey.

Last year, Ukraine sold significant amounts of value-added agricultural products abroad. In particular, according to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, fats and oils of animal or vegetable origin made a profit of $1 million to Ukrainian producers; various food products—$16.9 million; alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, vinegar—$ 12.9 million; meat and edible by-products—$136.2 million

Producers of Ukrainian honey have shown an absolute record. Buyers from abroad purchased it from us up to 81,000 tons, and so far the demand exceeds the supply. Europe and other countries are attracted by a similar production culture of this product, as well as convenient logistics that do not provide for additional transportation costs.

"The largest export growth last year was in honey—38%. In 2020, our country supplied honey worth $139 million to foreign markets, exceeding the corresponding figure for 2019. At the same time, the export of sweets increased by 13%. And in the future, the trend and growth of exports of sugar confectionery continues. In 2020, the proceeds from their sales outside Ukraine reached $169 million. But there was less interest in domestic chocolate—its sales reached $158 million, which is 7% less than in 2019," Viktor Shevchenko, the Chairperson of the Export and Investment Support Committee of the Kyiv CCI, says.

With regard to theour vodka products, the export trend is also encouraging. Last year, vodka was sold abroad by 13.4% more than in 2019. Now Ukraine supplies a large amount of vodka to the countries of the former USSR. This is facilitated by the history, mentality of the population, and the absence of language barriers.

«Nemiroff supplies products to about 80 countries around the world. Our volume is up to 40% of the total export of all vodka from Ukraine. Last year, the volume of all exports of vodka and Nemiroff as well decreased due to the pandemic. Duty Free & Travel Retail became the key distribution channel with the lowest performance due to the global lockdown. Here the reduction reached an average of 60%—70%. However, even under such unfavorable circumstances, the brand Nemiroff remained in the TOP-3 vodka brands in the world in Duty Free. According to data from IWSR, a gradual recovery in exports in the industry is expected from 2021 and next year the figures will be close to those in 2019.»

Yuriy Sorochinskyi

Yuriy Sorochinskyi

CEO at Nemiroff

What are the prospects for this export area development?

According to market experts, Ukrainian manufacturers need to acquire their place on foreign store shelves through significant efforts and fierce competition. One needs to understand the rules of the game in each of the markets, be ready for long-term investments in the brand and sales channels to get results in the future.

Quote"Unfortunately, Ukrainian brands that would like to develop in foreign markets get no support from the state as well. On the contrary, new barriers for business are being created. Therefore, the success of some Ukrainian companies in foreign markets is probably an exception to the rule," Sorochinskyi notes.

Export prospects in each product category have their own specifics. For instance, there is no single recognizable brand in honey, as in the vodka category. Therefore, for some products, price and model of supply may be the key to success. Enterprises can buy cheap Ukrainian raw materials, for example, the same honey, and resell it under their own foreign brands to Europeans. Other products require significant investment in marketing in order to compete with global brands.

With regard to the positive changes, now Great Britain is among the new partners that are especially interesting for us. It left the EU and is establishing contacts in the markets new for itself. Already this year, the Ukrainian government announced: we have an increase in total exports from Ukraine to Britain by more than 40%. Therefore, a surplus was recorded for the first time in trade with this country. Currently, 362 agricultural producers export their products to the United Kingdom. This refers to dairy products, chicken meat, fish, honey, and even snails.

«Of course, another huge and promising market for our exporters is the countries of Asia, there is someone to feed. The value of domestic exports to these countries increased by 16%—to $10.9 billion. And in 2020, for the first time, their share reached almost half—48.7% of the total Ukrainian agricultural exports.»

Viktor Shevchenko

Viktor Shevchenko

Head of the Export and Investment Support Committee of the Kyiv Chamber of Commerce and Industry


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