First, an increasing proportion of organic fodder in Europe is being covered by imports from Ukraine. And second there are cases of residues and also fraud concerning the big and complex organic trade structures in the south of Ukraine, and they have never been completely cleared up. The end result is a very one-sided and rather negative image of the country. The following contribution shows that organic in Ukraine is, however, also very vibrant and diverse and that organic products are becoming increasingly popular in the country itself. The domestic market is constantly growing.
Ukrainian media and politicians love organics
If until five years ago organic farming in Ukraine was almost always a response to growing demand in the west of Europe, today organic food has become firmly established within the country as well. Consumers can now buy organic products in more than 300 outlets, with the epicentre of organic marketing to be found in the capital Kiev. (List of Ukrainian outlets where you can buy organic products).
Piicture: Organic buffet in the Ukrainian Parliament.(Foto: FibL)
Growing domestic market
The outlets are supplied by 27 producers and processors in the county (list of domestic organic suppliers). The range is diverse and you find practically everything in the fresh food and packaged food ranges, although not always in sufficient quantities. So there is a need for more organic producers in Ukraine itself to fill the gaps in, for example, the supply of fruit and vegetables. This capital-intensive aspect of organic farming is still under-represented in Ukrainian organic agriculture. Supermarket chains like Auchan, Billa, Spar and Goodwine are desperately looking for more domestic producers but, so far, there has been a lack of investors and also technical know-how.
Picture: In an up-market setting, the supermarket chain Goodwine offers a wide range of organic goods produced in Ukraine (Photo: FiBL)
Alternative sales channels are becoming established
Although the specialist organic trade is still small, it is developing. Examples are the Naturboutique shops and biologic.ua, that recently launched in Kiev and, with retail space of 200 square metres over two storeys, sells all the organic goods available in Ukraine, plus selected imports. It‘s not only organic food that you find at biologic.ua – there‘s also a big department for natural cosmetics products and an organic bistro. The shop Naturboutique belongs to the same family that runs the eco-hotel Maison Blanche . The hotel has two locations: a B&B in Kiev and just outside the city.
A box scheme supplier now delivers fresh organic food to consumers in Kiev. The first organic restaurants, such as Glossary in Kiev, are similarly attracting an urban clientele. A catering company operated by the entrepreneur Olena Berezowska has specialised in providing organic food and beverages for parties and events. Both shops also offer their products online – a marketing channel that is gaining in importance in Ukraine because of the sometimes long distances between organic production and organic consumption.
The organic service sector is growing
The development of the organic industry is supported by professional service providers – from trade and export consultants and experts in quality management to retail sector trainers. Most of them have been trained by the FiBL project Organic Market Developement in Ukraine 2012-2016 and they are now financially independent operatives. Since 2012, FiBL in the context of the Swiss SECO project has been organising conferences and training sessions and has supported Ukrainian service providers in creating consultancy operations, field days, etc.
Picture: With training and advisory services, the entrepreneur, Olena Berezowska (on right), supports the Ukrainian retail wholefood trade. She also runs her own organic catering company (photo: FiBL)
These events have strengthened and motivated the service sector in particular. As a result, organic consultants are today, at all stages in the value chain, an important stimulus to the whole industry because they keep organising events for consumers, traders, processors and producers. Almost every week information or training events are held at national or local level that appeal to different target groups.