As Ukraine enters the second year of its struggle against Russia’s invasion, the country’s pet food producers are making efforts to boost their production capacities and export sales, but also aid Ukraine’s pets, many of which many have been displaced due to the ongoing war.
Rostyslav Vovk, CEO and co-owner of Ukrainian pet food maker Kormotech, told Petfoodindustry.com that, despite last year’s hardship, the company invested more than €12 million (US$13 million) in ramping up its production capacities in Ukraine and Lithuania.
“In 2023, our Lithuanian capacity will increase by 4,000 tons in early April, and in Ukraine, it will expand by 10,000 tons of wet pet food pouches in the summer. To mitigate risks, we will also expand our warehouse in Poland,” he said.
In the early phase of Russia’s war against Ukraine, numerous Ukrainian businesses were forced to significantly reduce or, in some cases, even shut down their production activities. A year later, businesses such as Kormotech continue to manufacture their products in spite of the ongoing military activities, as numerous Ukrainian companies have adapted their business models to the resulting challenges in the fields of logistics and marketing.
Vovk said that Kormotech, which exports its pet food to about 38 countries in Europe and other continents, is also planning to attend a number of industry shows this year, including Global Pet Expo in Orlando in the U.S., and Zoomark International in Italy’s Bologna, as part of its international expansion plans.
“Last year was very difficult for Ukraine’s pet food industry, but our company managed to come out of it stronger, with a 20% increase in revenue compared with 2021. We had a turnover of US$124 million, and this year, we aim to raise it to US$150 million,” Vovk said. “In 2023, Kormotech will focus on the U.S., Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Moldova, and we intend to dive deeper into these markets to capture a higher market share.”
The company “goes out of its way to engage with clients, learn about their routines and provide products that meet pet owners’ demands,” he said. Other plans by the Ukrainian pet food maker include an overhaul of its product range, guided by the company’s new methodology, jobs to be done, based on the needs of its clients, Vovk added.
At the same time, the CEO said Kormotech continues to deliver pet food to those in need under its Save Pets of Ukraine initiative, allocating its own products and funds to the project, but also cooperating with charities from the U.S., Lithuania and other countries.
“To date, we have delivered some 900 tons of ready pet food products to Ukrainian pets in need, including 200 tons of Kormotech products,” Vovk said. “We have raised a total of US$3 million to aid local pets, and we are grateful to our partners and donors in the U.S., the European Union and Ukraine. We also want to launch a new shelter patronage program soon, Adopt Pets of Ukraine, and we hope to encourage foreigners to adopt Ukrainian pets who have suffered because of this war.”
Harchovi Technologii Zakarpattya’s product range includes its Pan Kot cat food brand. l Courtesy of Harchovi Technologii Zakarpattya.
Engaging with local Ukrainian communities
Harchovi Technologii Zakarpattya, a Ukranian pet food producer that sells its output under the Carpathian Pet Food brand, among others, has also adapted its activities to the wartime reality, but the company’s management remains confident that Ukraine’s pet food sector will only become stronger by engaging with the local communities.
“Despite being located even in a quiet region hundreds of kilometers from the war zone, our company has also been forced to make adjustments,” a company spokesperson said. “From the very beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia against Ukraine, people felt fear and panic, as well as uncertainty about the future. And because of this, we temporarily lost many clients and representatives in the northern, eastern and southern parts of Ukraine.
“But after a certain period of time, the Ukrainian Armed Forces pushed out the aggressor from the larger temporarily occupied part of our country, and supplies to these regions began to gradually resume,” the spokesperson continued. “We currently work with many well-known supermarket chains, retail stores, pet stores and distributors.”
Harchovi Technologii Zakarpattya’s first export destinations were the Baltic States, Poland and Slovakia, and currently, its largest foreign markets are Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova, as well as Germany, Malaysia, Israel, Serbia, Georgia, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and Italy. This year, the producer plans to enter new markets: the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, France, Spain, the U.K., Sweden, Norway, Finland and Turkey, according to the company representative.
“We are currently working on new products, as well as new types of feed for the existing brands,” the spokesperson said, adding that new brands of dry and wet food for cats and dogs were underway.
“We also do not forget about our main consumers: cats and dogs who lost their owners, their homes or the opportunity to be fed due to Russia’s military aggression. That’s why we regularly donate our food directly to war zones and war-torn regions,” added the company representative.
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