News From Ukraine: Processing companies come together to ensure operations continue

We want to take the time to check in on farmers in Ukraine amid the ongoing war in the country. Today, we are learning more about how processing companies in the country came together to make sure they could keep operations going amid Russian occupation.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:

One of Ukraine’s largest tomato paste producers, Chumak, has been under occupation since the first days of the war.

Andriy Levchuk, the CEO of the company, told us about the subsequent developments at the enterprise.

“The day the war started, we gathered all the employees, stopped the plant, and announced that the company’s ceased operations. The company said that it would support the employees in every way possible.”

All large agricultural enterprises in the region stopped working on the first day of the war and the subsequent occupation. A few months later, Chumak returned to the Ukrainian market and managed to relocate the facility.

“After a while, we started considering how we were going to live in these awful conditions. I realized there was an enterprise similar to ours.”

The company needed to restart production under the Chumak brand with original recipes at the facility. Chumak contacted a company, which volunteered to support him. In other words, they turned to a competitor company.

“Their response to our offer was remarkably noble. They offered a helping hand. It was the first glimpse of hope and understanding that our initiative had a place and we could carry it forward.”

Chumak provides the company with the recipe, after which the product is manufactured. The entire process is overseen by a team of technologists. Then, the product is sent for testing. If it does not suit the taste, they are asked to improve it. It is only when the perfect taste is achieved that the recipe is agreed upon and production is launched.

The plant has several production lines. One of them was partially idle so they could load it with our products. As a result, both parties won, since it is also beneficial to the manufacturer if its line is not idle and generates profit.

At the peak of the war, some retail chains set separate shelves for brands that were out of business due to occupation or hostilities, but their products were waited to return. This was the case with Chumak products until production was resumed to some extent in May. In fact, the company had all the capacities for processing tomatoes in the occupied territory. Management considered moving production away from war-torn Ukraine to neighboring countries but decided not to leave the country.

“We know that our plant is still intact so we are waiting for the de-occupation of Kherson Oblast to return. In the meantime, we continue to work with partners. This means locating our production at sites to financially support our company and our employees.”

The distance between Kherson and Kulykivka is 80 kilometers, and the defenders of the country have already liberated the city. So let’s hope that the company will return home soon.

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.