Ukrainian producers are gradually developing European markets. First of all, exports to our closest neighbors are increasing.
Poland is a remarkable example – Ukrainian products in Polish supermarkets are no longer an exception, exporters adopt ambitious strategies, placing their products on the shelves of Polish supermarkets and in advertising campaigns.
However, other countries, including our neighbors, cannot boast of much interest on the part of Ukrainian exporters.
Romania is a perfect example. It is also our closest neighbor, a country with a big market (population of 19.5 million), its economy shows practically the best growth rates in the EU (4.6% per year over the last years).
But Ukrainian products are almost not represented in this market.
“European Pavda” personally made sure shopping in local stores.
However, the Ukrainian Embassy specifies: goods of Ukrainian origin, including food, are actually being sold in Romania. “The fact is that the vast majority of our food exports to Romania is a raw material. It is packaged here and therefore sold as a local product,” – says Borys Patrash, First Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine to Romania.
In proof of his statement, he shows a printout of statistics. Indeed, according to last year results the growth rate of Ukrainian exports to Romania during 11 monhs amounted to 23.8% (to 995.6 million USD).
It is a pretty good indicator, but for the slight problem. The thing is that a significant portion of exports (more precisely – 21.6%) – is “wood and products of wood.” It is worth mentioning the numerous scandals over moratorium on timber exports, which starting this year is applicable to pine. Accordingly, exports growth rate was significant before the moratorium.
And, accordingly, this brings up the question: why is this market ignored by Ukrainian businesses? It might be regarded as less promising than the Polish one (lower population and income).Food products instead make only 5% of our exports to Romania.
Or this market is considered to be more complicated, and it takes more time to adapt to the tastes of Romanians than to the ones of Poles or Czechs?
EuroPravda has managed to talk to some Ukrainian companies, which are making efforts to enter the Romanian market.
The first company – Kharkiv “Typhoon 2000”, which produces desserts. This product has to be sold within 28 days, therefore, it is hard to be sold in Western Europe. Accordingly, the company was primarily looking for the markets in neighboring countries.
“The decision to start with Romania is largely accidental, – says the Export Director Maryna Shevtsova. – There was held a specialized exhibition in Romania, so we went there and started to work afterwards.”
In the case of Romania the advantage for Ukrainian exporters is the loyalty of consumers to foreign products.According to her, this choice has its advantages over Poland. “Usually, Ukrainian companies, when entering Polish market, consider it as a start for further expansion in Eastern Europe. That makes sense – the population of Poland is higher and the tastes are alike. So, having settled into this market, you can try entering the neighboring ones,” – she said.
This is somewhat different from other European countries, where consumers prefer domestic producers.
“That should not put the quality on the back burner. But Ukrainian companies has long been able to produce good quality products to sell them in Europe,” – they say in “Typhoon 2000”.
There is all the more reason for this, as the idea of the different tastes often turns out to be a myth. “, However, there might be some peculiarities. For instance, herring is not likely to have great demand – Romanians prefer meat. But, anyway, the tastes of local people are becoming more similar to the ones of Europeans. That is what is happening in Ukraine. So, the local tastes peculiarities are not a problem,”- said Maryna Shevtsova.
“Kyivkhlib” did not have problems on the Romanian market either. “We used to enter foreign markets, mainly focusing on immigrants from the former Soviet Union who know our products. Romania was the first country where we focused on local consumers from the very beginning,” – says the Head of Marketing Tetiana Biehma.
And that was not a problem, she says. “Actually, we did not have to adapt to the market. The only thing we had to do was to adapt our package, as it included stenciling Cyrillic writing. Luckily, we did not have to translate all signs into Romanian, having translated the markings on the reverse side, leaving universal English outside,”- they say in “Kyivkhlib.”
Apparently, the rumors about specifics of Romanian market cannot be confirmed. But that’s not all.
One of the exporters that works on the Polish market, announced another argument in favor of Romania in an interview when not being recorded.
According to him, the worsening of relations between Kyiv and Warsaw – especially after the “historical claims” of Polish leaders – might lead to reduced demand for Ukrainian products in Poland.
That cannot lead to the mass boycott, and the bannings made by the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, the far-right demonstrations in the supermarkets, which sell Ukrainian products have already taken place. “In that situation we should consider other neighboring markets in order to be onwards and upwards.”
Finally, it is worth mentioning one more argument in favor of the Romanian market. “European Pravda” has been conducting an experiment for several years, testing the readiness of Ukrainian diplomats to help exporters.
Last inspection showed that the economic department of the Embassy of Ukraine in Romania is forward to assist. Although the embassy responded only to the second letter from our “exporter”, it provided detailed information on cooperation opportunities with local retail chains and necessary contact details.
Ukrainian exports have already demonstrated the ability to compete on the most famous European markets. However, in order to get ahead one should enter unfamiliar markets, without the fear of the unknown.
Article was prepared by “European Pravda” within the framework of “Stronger Together!” information campaign.