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Ukrainian Food: Opulent Gifts from The Black Earth
Post Time:2019-12-03Author:food2china-francie

Ukraine, which means “the boarderland”, is an ancient and young country. By ancient, it implies that as the birth place of Kievan Rus, Ukraine has a time-honored history and civilization; by young, it means that as a European country that has claimed its independence for over 20 years, it keeps exploring the development path that is suitable for itself. 


The Dnieper River flows across Ukraine from north to south and finally into the Dnieper Bay of the Black Sea. Where the river passes by gestates the black earth of the largest areas in the world, taking up 33% of the area of Ukraine. Abound in wheat, corn, barley, tomato, sugar beet, fiber flax, sunflower, and sugarcane, this vast and opulent land fully deserved the title of “the granary of Europe” at one time. The planting amount of the agricultural products and their processed goods take up an important proportion no matter in the European market or in the international market. For the Chinese market only, currently the corn exported from Ukraine to China occupies 90% of the total amount of China’s imported corn. Moreover, 95% of the imported sunflower seed oil of China also comes from Ukraine. 


As a major grain supply country with more than 60 millionton annual output, Ukraine is like an indispensable ally playing an increasingly significant role for a major food demand country - China. In addition, with “the granary of Europe” opening its door to Chinese people, we find that except for corn and sunflower seed oil, Ukrainian food is still a treasure that needs exploration because we know little about it: the Ukrainian black bread with unique taste, the Ukrainian Salo with luscious flesh, the chilly and pure Ukrainian Vodka, the fragrant and sweet Ukrainian chocolate…


With vast areas, abundant resources, and co-existence of multiple nationalities and various cultures, Ukrainian food presents strong local characteristics and cultural features, varied and special. However, in the past few years, a series of challenges that Ukraine faced has slowed Ukraine’s economy down, which consequently reduces the opportunities for Ukrainian food to show up in the Chinese market and even the international market. 


At present, Ukrainian food is in its gradual recovery. According to a group of statistics issued by the Newsroom of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine at the beginning of February this year, in 2016, the sale of Ukrainian industrial products reached 381 billion UAH, increasing by 13.3% compared with that of 2015. Among them, food, beverage, and tobacco products account for the largest proportion of 21.6%. The statistics also shows that the absolute value of about one quarter (24%) of the exported processed food exceeds 91 billion UAH. In 2016, the amount of Ukrainian exported food rose by 5.4%.


 As the fourth biggest trade partner of China in CIS, Ukraine in recent year has witnessed rapid development in the friendly and mutual-beneficial cooperation with China in various fields. Ukraine is also one of the earliest country supporting the “Belt and Road” initiative. In 2014, the two countries signed a bilateral protocol concerning Ukraine’s participation in the building of the “Belt and Road”, which points out the main direction of the cooperation. In December last year, a train carrying 20 containers departed from Illychevsk, a southern port city of Ukraine, passed the Black Sea, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan, and finally arrived at Druzhba, a railroad crossing between Kazakhstan and China. The openingup of this railway means that Ukraine becomes a real participant in the building of the “New Silk Road”. We believe that in the near future, more and more presents from the remote and mysterious black earth will travel all the way through the “New Silk Road” to Chinese people’s tables, enriching our taste bud and life.


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Ukraine has long been known in China not only for its achievements in the field of aviation and shipbuilding, but also its achievements in the agricultural sector. Even in ancient times Ukraine was the granary of the Soviet Union, now it is also known worldwide achievements in agricultural production. 2/3 of Ukraine’s territory is black soil, which allows to produce 65 million tons of grain annually, of which about 40 million tons goes to export. In 2015, 90% of corn and 95% of sunflower oil to China imported from Ukraine. Today, China takes a key place among the countries where exported Ukrainian agricultural products. According to the results of 2016, China took second place on this indicator with the amount about 1,026, 000, 000 US dollars. Today, in addition to grain and sunflower oil, Ukraine is exporting products of flour-grinding industry, oilseeds, confectionery, cheese and yogurt, sugar and wine to China. Embassy of Ukraine in China has been actively working on expanding commodity nomenclature Ukrainian agricultural products supplied to China. In our interview with Mr. Viktor Tanasiychuk, Minister-Counsellor of the Embassy of Ukraine in China, he emphasized that more effective information communication should be established between two countries, in order to make Chinese customers get to know more about Ukrainian food.


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1.Ukraine, as a country situated along China’s "belt and road", what benefit she can get from this policy, particularly in terms of food exports? 

Implementation of China's initiative "One zone, one way to" create conditions for the development of comprehensive cooperation between the participating countries. Ukraine was one of the first European countries that signed the Protocol on cooperation with China within the framework of the Silk Road. Active development of the concept of "active zone of economic prosperity" along the Great Silk Road creates conditions for the implementation of infrastructure projects in Ukraine, such as the construction of a deepwater port on the Black Sea, modernization of railways and highways. It provides powerful additional features for expanding transit flows and will contribute to the accelerated development of agriculture Ukraine. Ukrainian black earths allow to increase annual grain production doubled to 120,000,000 tons. That is to expand export of Ukrainian goods to China market and serve new ports built and improved infrastructure. I would like to emphasize that China's interest to coproduction and financing of agricultural and infrastructure projects in Ukraine is, above all, to ensure own food security, in cooperation with us through geographical diversification of supply of agricultural products.


2.Among thousands of food products coming to China, what advantages do the Ukrainian products have to make them competitive? 

The main advantage Ukraini The main advantage Ukrainian food is that Ukraine legislation banning the production of genetically modified products. Ukrainian foods are environmentally friendly, high quality, wide range and competitive prices.


3.What impact on food export of Ukraine did the restrictions of Russia on transportation of goods through its territory to China bring?

The military aggression by the Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine led to the actual destruction of the industrial potential of the region, there were destroyed social and transport infrastructure. It should be emphasized that the region accounts for only 3 percent of the Ukrainian territory. Throughout the rest of Ukraine ensured public order and sustainable economic development, including and agriculture. In 2016, our country has overcome the decline of economic indicators in the current year projected GDP growth for about 2%. I would like to inform that Chinese corporations, such as COFCO Grain Corporation, and many others have taken advantage of this opportunity: in Ukraine created modern processing facilities, build new seaport terminals with Chinese investments. Thus, blockade of transit through Russia that have contributed to the fall in 2016 compared to the previous year, our agricultural exports to China by 300,000,000 USD, has necessitated the development of new logistics routes of supply of our products to China. I would like to note that increased supply will serve as setup in the "one belt, one way" a new rail route from China to Ukraine via Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, as well as the construction of a deep-water port on the Black Sea.


4.What made the Embassy of Ukraine expand and increase the volume of food exports in trade between Ukraine and China?

Today, planning the development of trade and economic relations between Ukraine and China is an important consideration trends in domestic and foreign policy of China. The need to strengthen in China's own safety food and active introduction into production of innovative technologies allows maximum use of the existing potential of cooperation with Ukraine. Embassy efforts to expand the export of Ukrainian goods production by dairy industry, which has already completed all the necessary registration and phytosanitary procedures are negotiating with Chinese importers of confectionery. We are also working to accelerate the start of supply to China of sunflower meal, beet pulp. At the final stage of processing is the issue of a permit for the export to China of poultry, beef and lamb. The prospects of further expansion of export of Ukrainian food products that do not contain genetically modified ingredients and meet the highest international standards of quality confectionery products from wine's sector. We hope that Chinese consumers appreciate the quality of Ukrainian ice cream and mineral water. Ukrainian large factories and companies have their representative offices abroad, but medium and small businesses can’t afford it. An alternative perspective is to open overseas business platforms in the form of joint companies that provide professional consulting and marketing services to foreign and Ukrainian subjects of foreign economic activity at reasonable prices and additionally have the opportunity to gather at one place representation of entrepreneurs, thus reducing their costs. An example of this is created at the initiative of the Embassy of Ukraine in China, a platform for cooperation between Chinese and Ukrainian businessmen - "Ukrainian House" in Beijing, we hope that the necessary support for cooperation also provides Ukrainian company FIALAN. These structures, together with foreign partners and cooperate together can actively promote Ukrainian products to the Chinese market, because only by the Embassy activity to cover the huge Chinese market difficult. In this context, Ukrainian producers are ready to consider offers large Chinese retailers able to sell ready-to-eat foods.


5.What are the main obstacles for Ukrainian food entering into China market?

I would categorize the main obstacles in the development of trade relations with China dividing them into three groups. First is a technical barrier. Harmonization of sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for export from Chinese side of related products is critical for the full trade. Secondly is the issue of logistics. The existing range of logistics facilities is insufficient and ineffective for large-scale trade with China. Existing in Ukraine and even newly built Chinese corporation COFCO grain terminal on the Black Sea not enough for the growing need for agricultural transportation. Thirdly we need to find new forms of promotion of products on the Chinese market. we should also establish effective information communication - Chinese business has only concept idea of the possibilities of cooperation with Ukraine. In this regard, we hope for help Chinese media, specialized publications, just like "Food to China".


6.What famous Ukrainian food products can you recommend to Chinese customers which are still missing in the market?

For example, honey, which today successfully delivered in large volumes on the EU market. The Embassy is working hard to coordinate all the necessary conditions for the import of these products to China. In addition, given the current world and especially in China, the trend to consume healthy, organic products can offer Chinese consumers a wide range of organic products such as fruit and vegetables. Like cherry, blueberry and others. In addition, Ukrainian wines, pastries, ice cream, various mineral waters are very tasty and has competitive prices. In fact, all food products grown or produced in Ukraine is extremely delicious, highquality and relatively inexpensive. Therefore I would like to draw attention to the Chinese partners for wider group of Ukrainian foods that can enjoy Chinese consumers.


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