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Ukraine strengthens position as fruit exporter

Updated: Jan 27, 2018

It was a rough start to the strawberry season in Ukraine this year. Greenhouse growers had been expected a harvest around 100,000 tons, but after the cold weather hit in May, only 10-15% of the expected harvest crop remained.

However, it's not all bad news, shared Agro Business Consultant Maxim Kulik, "It's really strange, usually the open field strawberries are at the most risk of being damaged by cold weather, but this year it is the other way around. The weather is excellent at the moment and the harvest will begin in the next couple of days and production is expected to be at 150% of what it was last season. The export price per kilo was €1.50 a couple of days ago, but now the prices seem to be coming down a bit with more supply, and are selling for around €0.80/kg. We have the next 3 or 4 weeks to gain back the losses with the early strawberries." New markets for cherries Ukrainian cherry growers are still searching for the gap left by the Russian embargo after 99% of all production had been sent there for the 15 years before.

"Cherry exports to the EU started last year and we have received a lot of orders for this year too. We invested a lot of money recently for calibration and hydro-cooling systems, so we think that we are in a good position to get good export prices for our cherries, around €5/kilo, when current prices are around €1.50-1.80 on the domestic market. This is going to be crucial for us to make up for the 20% losses on the early varieties at the beginning of the season."

Maxim said that their biggest competitor remains Turkey, in terms of quality, and that Ukrainian producers hoping that they will able to gain a 20-25% of the European market.

"We have only just started, but we produce a lot of cherries and we 

need to find a different market." stressed Kulik.

Big potential for raspberries "I think that raspberry exports have the largest potential this season for exports. Very few of the berries were damaged and I think that we could be the second largest exporter of IQF berries this season." said Kulik.

Unfortunately Kulik said that growers still received very little support from the government in terms of grower support and cooperatives, but he said that there have been a lot of European and foreign organisations which have offered a lot of support.

"Berry growers have been banding together in the last two years to gain a stronger position in the market. We were completely absent from the export market just 3-4 years ago and now we export about 80% of our berries. The berries we send out now are currently under a European label, but our goal in the next few years is to develop our own Ukrainian brand."

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