Today, demand for healthy and quality organic products is growing in the world, and Ukraine is no exception. Only ten years ago, first local organic products appeared at the supermarket shelves, and today the domestic market of organic products is growing rapidly, and the product assortment is expanding remarkably. In 2018, the organic product range was expanded with interesting novelties: organic dumplings, meat pockets, and beet sugar. And with organic beet sugar Ukraine became a pioneer in Eastern Europe.
It is important to note that Ukrainian organic sector is export-oriented: Ukraine exports certified organic products to over 40 countries worldwide. In addition, more and more Ukrainian organic producers enter international markets and decently present our country as a reliable source of high quality organic products at the international fairs. A perfect example is the international organic tradefair Biofach which takes place in Nuremberg (Germany) in February every year. This year, Ukrainian organic producers will participate at the Biofach with the Ukrainian National Pavilion for the sixth time. The number of exhibitors from Ukraine is constantly growing: there were 15 at the Ukrainian National Pavilion in 2017, 20 – in 2018, and in 2019 their number have increased to 29. The floor area of the pavilion has also grown significantly: it was 70 sq. m. in 2014, and in 2019 it is already 130 sq. m.
This rapid development inspires new steps and achievements, and our producers still have interesting and perspective niches in terms of profitable business. Yes, organic agricultural production is time- and cost-consuming at the initial stages, but the profitability is also quite high as long as everything is organized properly. So how to find own niche and develop successfully in organic production? I think it is necessary to take into account five important success factors.
The first and key factor: in order to take a conscious decision to convert to organic production one should thoroughly study the requirements to organic production according to the Ukrainian legislation as well as the requirements and market of the country or region where the products will be supplied.
May I remind you that organic production is an overall system of farm management and food production that combines best environmental practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources, the application of high animal welfare standards and a production method in line with the preference of certain consumers for products produced using natural substances and processes. Thus, organic production plays a dual societal role, where it, on the one hand, provides for a specific market responding to consumer demand for organic products and, on the other hand, delivers public goods.
The second important aspect is that one should define a potential market for their organic products, as selection of the standard for organic certification will depend on it. One should also study the market and customs procedures of the target country.
The third step: one should choose a certification body and start the certification process. Certification is an obligatory procedure which helps an operator to confirm compliance of methods applied at the farm with organic standards and get access to the organic market with premium prices.
The forth success factor is an integration in the organic market, as establishing direct contacts and experience exchange with organic stakeholders, local/international partnersand competent authorities will serve as a catalyst for organic production development. Organic business associations, consultative bodies and market operator unions play an important role here.
The fifth step is product promotion and marketing. For the company to be seriously perceived at the domestic or international market, it should follow three main rules: stable product quality, regular supply and forming lots for the purpose of a long-term mutually beneficial cooperation. But proper marketing and product presentation, company brand shaping are additional powerful tools for increasing sales: in the current context production of quality products is not enough. People should know and speak about them. And this does not only refer to the level of some producers but the level of the whole country.
Therefore, as you see, there is nothing impossible, one should just set concrete goals and work in a team to achieve them. Successful organic production and export sometimes seem a long marathon distance which requires deliberate and long-term vision and planning. But, as experience shows, the results will follow.
UKRAINIAN POLICY DELEGATION AT THE BIOFACH
The high level Ukrainian policy delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine for European Integration Olga Trofimtseva goes to the Biofach 2019. Mission objectives are the following: participation at the international organic tradefair Biofach, presentation of Ukraine on the international level, building long-term partnership both with policy makers from other countries and with organic stakeholders, as well as participation in activities of the Ukrainian National Pavilion. Ukrainian policy delegation participation at the Biofach is supported by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO, Switzerland) and the Organic Ukraine Public Union of producers of certified organic products and organized by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL, Switzerland). The Agritrade project implemented by AFC/IAK and funded by BMEL also partly finances the organisation of policy meetings.