Ukraine is in full development, with new produce being exported from the country every year. For one of the exporting companies, this is the first year that cabbage will be exported. One can expect some challenges when getting acquainted with a new product for the first time, but Vinaigrette feels confident and tries to learn as much as it can from the competition.
Ukrainian exporting company Vinaigrette has started exporting cabbages for the first time. A smooth easy start would have been welcome, but Maxim Kulik, Agro Consultant for Vinaigrette claims the very first season is turning out to be a difficult one: “This year the cabbage season started with some difficulties, mostly because due to hard weather conditions. But there was also pressure from the domestic market, where prices were really low. When this happens, growers start thinking about export. The season was also hard for Western and Central Europe and a lot of buyers have started to negotiate with our growers directly.”
For Vinaigrette the very first cabbage season is not focused on pumping up the volumes as fast as possible. Kulik would rather focus on the quality and the process: “We stand for exporting quality produce and want to make our system workable before we worry about quantity. So we consider these first shipments as true trials. Until now, all of the Ukrainian export was concentrated on Russian and Belarussian markets, that do not have hard quality control. This means we have to improve to meet all EU requirements.”
In the past, Poland would buy the produce of Ukraine and then resell it to other countries in Europe. However Kulik feels that Ukraine is now ready to export their own produce: “Our aim is to sell the cabbage to the UK, Scandinavia and other high margin level markets in the EU, but the most important thing for us is a systematic work environment, with quick feedback from our clients and the right understanding of our products. This year we’re also selling to Czech Republic, Germany and a few other countries. The experiences have been positive, so we feel we can continue this trade for years to come.”
To ensure Vinaigrette gets a foothold in the European market, Kulik also looks to his competitors: “When it comes to any vegetable, we compete with Poland and Spain every year, but the cabbage export for Ukraine just starting and we are trying to understand our competitors more to enhance our own productivity. Our main goal is to understand the end buyer though, his needs and expectations. If we have this knowledge, there’s no real need to compete. We just want satisfied customers. Our cabbage meets the requirements of EU regulations, but we still need to work harder on the allowed amount of pesticides to avoid situations where we exceed the maximum amount. Once this is under control we want to sell our produce with added value under a brand. We want to concentrate on pre-packing, sorting and branding, along with promoting Ukrainian produce!”
Organic might also be an option for Vinaigrette, as Kulik believes in about three to four years the amount of organic produce leaving Ukraine will be doubled. But for now Vinaigrette wants to focus on new opening markets and promoting their produce there. Fruit Logistica was a great opportunity: “For us Fruit Logistics is a place where we meet with our partners and friends. It’s a great chance to establish a deeper cooperation with our partners and we always try to show our very best to them. This year we also presented our mobile application FreshBot, which allows to monitor prices on all fresh products around the world online!” Kulik concludes.