13/11/2023 | Ukraine

BIG Interview: USPA CEO Volodymyr Gurzhiy chats about apple business in Ukraine

USPA is a company with extensive experience in exporting Ukrainian apples to over 40 countries, including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and European Union countries.

Recently, Mr. Volodymyr Gurzhiy, USPA Fruit General Manager, shared with Fructidor the challenges the industry faces today and how his business continues to operate during the war.

Fructidor: "Mr. Volodymyr, what kind of tendencies you observe in the apple business in Ukraine today?"

Mr. Volodymyr Gurzhiy: "Each year, we encounter new challenges. The rules and the trends within the markets are changing, thus our business is constantly adapting. The upcoming season is no exception. I'm not just referring to the obvious challenges posed by the war, but also the level of inflation that hasn't impacted apple prices globally. Their prices are not rising as rapidly as their production costs. Additionally, there are changes in consumer trends. Among the newest trends – a lot of markets demand smaller-caliber apples, which differs from what we faced even two years ago. It was huge surprise for me when I saw a lot of small-size Royal Gala apples with a pale color called ‘school apples’ or similar to those on the market in Dubai. The trend we were working hard to change in the past for years, was changed by South African suppliers just in one summer, when South Africa had a big scale of such apples. These shifts are driven by changing demographics worldwide and a trend toward selling fresh-cut fruit as well. However, growing smaller-caliber fruit trees yields lower income compared to larger ones. Furthermore, new apple producers are emerging globally, increasing competition and pushing prices down"

Fructidor: "How to stay competitive in the global apple industry?"

Mr. Volodymyr Gurzhiy: “We see a lot of new origins arising every year on the same markets. As a case with one of the most competitive markets, UAE, particularly Dubai, – when we started exporting to Dubai, there were no suppliers from the Balkans, while Poland and Turkey were just making the first steps. Now everyone is there. It pushes prices down, at least comparing with the inflation level, in other words prices are remaining more or the less on the same level as 5 or 7 years ago, but the costs jumped significantly,” continues the director.

Fructidor: "What about pears? Do you export this fruit or stick only to apples?"

Mr. Volodymyr Gurzhiy: "Regarding pears, I cannot claim that Ukraine is a global exporter at the moment, but rather an importer. However, Europe is expected to face a significant deficit of pears in the upcoming season due to adverse weather conditions. I believe it's a perfect opportunity for Ukrainian pears exporters to enter these markets [...] Our strategy is to remain operational throughout the year, regardless of the circumstances. We work year-round, and although there are always some peaks and gaps, we are committed to consistently supplying the highest quality apples by UPSA selection to our customer."




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