Pet food not immune to global crises and issues

As part of the global economy, pet food can’t avoid crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions and, now, the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Countries in Europe remain major players in a global pet food market. (Andrea Danti | AdobePhoto.com)
Countries in Europe remain major players in a global pet food market. (Andrea Danti | AdobePhoto.com)

As a consumer good that’s popular the world over (and becoming more so), pet food is as enmeshed in the global economy as any other product or consumer category. Of course, we’ve seen this play out with the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions it has caused, including ongoing supply chain issues and labor shortages.

In addition, the global economy and its many moving parts are closely linked with geopolitical matters. For example, the trade tensions and standoff between the U.S. and China has had a significant—and mixed—impact for pet food that is still evolving.

Now there’s a war happening, ostensibly just between two European countries—but in reality, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is having far-reaching effects, not only in terms of creating concern and reactions from nearly every nation and citizen around the world, but also potentially damaging or worsening many sectors of the global economy.

Russian invasion impact on pet food supply chain

Take the supply chain. Specific to pet food, experts were already predicting problems like lack of shipping containers, bottlenecks at ports, transportation woes—and the associated rapidly rising costs—to continue throughout most of 2022, if not into 2023. That’s in addition to labor shortages in nearly every industry, including pet food.

Now, with a war between two significant grain producers and exporters (Ukraine and Russia), the agricultural industry is very likely to be further hampered, and that will no doubt involve pet food to some degree.

Aside from the business impacts, there is also a very real humanitarian crisis resulting from the invasion of Ukraine, and that is also affecting pet owners, their pets and other animals. For example, while some zoos and wildlife centers in Ukraine are evacuating the animals in their charge, other large ones, like the Kyiv Zoo, missed the window of being able to safely evacuate their animals, according to the Associated Press/Euronews.green. Now zoo staff are trying to care for frightened animals amid shelling, with only 10 days supply of food as of March 3.

On the ground for a pet food company in Ukraine

Pet food supplies may also become an issue soon. Kormotech, a leading European pet food producer, is based in Lviv in the western part of Ukraine, close to the country’s border with Poland, so it has been “relatively safe,” according to Kateryna Kovalyuk-Burko, head of PR and communications for the company. In an interview with Jaroslaw Adamowski, she said the plant in Lviv (one of Kormotech’s three in Ukraine) has “not been running at full capacity, but the company has raw materials in stock and also significant amounts of finished products in its storage facilities,” he reported.

However, the company is having trouble distributing its pet food products in the country, due to the Russian military severely damaging some infrastructure. “We have distributors across the country, but in some parts, they can’t transport our pet food because numerous roads were destroyed or blocked,” she said.

Ukrainian pets also need to be saved from war

Meanwhile, pets in Ukraine are under siege as much as human citizens. “The scale of the catastrophe is enormous,” reads a letter sent to me by representatives of Kormotech. “Civilian casualties, refugees, destruction of homes and infrastructure, blockages of supply chains for basic food and water. Children and their pets become hostages. A lot of animals remain abandoned in the streets, and shelters are on the verge of survival.”

To help, Kormotech is organizing a new pet charity, Save Pets of Ukraine, according to Kovalyuk-Burko. She told Adamowski they are setting up a shelter staffed by 25 people to deliver pet food to shelters, border guard outposts and other areas of need. “As we speak, nine tons of pet food are on their way to shelters across Ukraine.”

At the same time, in an effort to bring in donations from outside the country, Kormotech is setting up a charity in Lithuania, where it also operates a plant. Kovalyuk-Burko told Adamowski that they hope to have this charitable entity operating very soon.

Please check back here if you are interested in helping out; we will post the link for Save Pets of Ukraine as soon as we have it.

Note: Kormotech has launched the charity and the link is now available above.

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