We feed the world — the Ukrainian way, that is

by Andy Kozlov

We Feed the World is allegedly the most successful Austrian documentary ever, having been seen in German-speaking countries alone by over 500,000 cinemagoers.

Get a copy of the film if you wonder what the fuss is about. But today I invite you to travel to a land a part of which was once under the same jurisdiction with Austria. I mean Ukraine.

This week, Singapore’s Food Empire Holding opened an instant coffee plant in central Ukrainian town of Zolotonosha ( 30 km from Cherkasy/Черкаси, a city where they produce fun short films about life of Africans in Ukraine )

Petrovskaya Sloboda, a Singapore-stemming brand that lures its Post-Soviet clients by appearing to be an heir of Russian imperial coffee-drinking tradition

The new plant producers 24 types of products, including instant coffee under the MacCoffee and Petrovskaya Sloboda brands, snacks and instant chicory drink, the company told the Kyiv Post. In a South-South cooperation move, Food Empire Holding plans to sell products of the new plant not only on the Ukrainian market but export them to other countries of Eastern Europe. The Singaporean food producer has been around in Eastern Europe/Central Asia for quite some time. Food Empire started shipping container loads of three-in-one (coffee, creamer and sugar) mix to Moscow in 1994. The first shipment hit Kazakhstan two years before that.

Despite the ‘Product of Singapore’ label on every coffee sachet, many Russians think that MacCoffee is a local brand, while some think it’s American.

Staying on the sweet topic, and moving several hundred kilometers further east, the Biscuit-Chocolate corporation in Kharkiv recently made its first shipment of candy to Iraq.

According to the company website, 1896 is considered to be the beginning of confectionery production in Kharkiv when the Confectionary producing plant of George Borman (a famous confectionery manufacturer and supplier of Russian Emperor) was founded. Later, in 1935, the other confectionery, Kharkiv Biscuit Factory, was founded. In 2004 both enterprises were joined into a corporation.

Kharkiv confectioners participate in international exhibitions of confectionery such as world’s biggest confectionery trade fair ISM in Koeln, FMI in Chicago, SIAL in Paris.  Today the confectionery products of Kharkiv enterprises are exported to Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Mongolia, the US, Canada, Israel and Germany.

George Borman poster from early 20th century (Source: Wikipedia)

The packaging of the products meant for Iraq market has Arabic text printed on it.

The Ukrainian confectionary industry leader, ABK, that incorporates 4 factories in Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk and Mukachevo currently works on enlarging the list of products made according to Shariah requirements to 120 brands. Once the “halal” certificate is issued, expectations of importing company-made bonbons, biscuits and wafers are held by Jordan, Kuwait, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Nasha Ryaba, one of the biggest chicken manufacturers in Ukraine, provides Ukrainian Muslims with halal chicken products.

Chicken or chocs, it’s about time for Ukrainian food producers to consider Sub-Saharan markets. Maybe they could partner with the UN in this pursuit.

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