The Ukrainian watermelon season has been in full swing for a couple of weeks now, but until two weeks ago most of the harvest was destined for the local market. The time for exporting the watermelons is now well underway, and so one Ukrainian exporter is getting ready to deal with what according to him, will be a record harvest.
For Ukrainian exporter Vinaigrette, this season is most important. “This year we can finally show the world what we have achieved all these past years. The season will last for about another month. Luckily we already had a good season on the local market, which basically guarantees we won’t lose money this year. The weather was very hot in the past few weeks, making the fruits very popular. However the past few days we’ve seen more rainy weather with temperatures around 26 to 28 degrees Celsius.” Says Maxim Kulik, owner of Vinaigrette. “The high amount of inquiries of the local market this year means we can now fully focus on the export market. We expect both a record harvest and a record on exported goods this season.”
The heatwave that went over Europe a couple of weeks ago couldn’t have come at a better time, says Kulik. “The heat in Europe was the best marketing tool we could have asked for. A lot of big importers were looking for other markets to buy their produce. We receive daily inquiries on our watermelons from all over the European Union. However we don’t want to focus on shipping as much volume out as we can. The quality is important, also for our image, so if we don’t have watermelons available with the right quality, we’d have to turn them down.”
Normally Vinaigrette supplies Europe and Belarus. However this year he expects an increase from a specific area. “We see there is a much larger demand coming from the United Kingdom. This has mostly to do with the weather disasters over there. We’re also shipping more to Baltic clients and those in the Czech Republic. The local farmers in these areas only have small quantities available, leaving a window of opportunity for us.”
Kulik feels there is still work to do, in order to improve. “Ukraine needs sorting lines for its watermelons. Same as washing lines, good raw cartons for the boxes, basically everything surrounding the fruit to make cultivating and packing it more efficient. I expect these things to arrive soon enough, and I hope it can help Ukraine become a top 5 market in terms of exporting the (water)melons.”
To get Ukraine to the position that Kulik hopes to reach, they will have to first learn from and then deal with its competitors. “At this point Spain, Morocco, Romania and Iran are fishing from the same pond as us. However we don’t see any big competitor wars upcoming as we are trying to find our specific niche in the market. Focusing only on high quality produce with a price that’s slightly lower than premium we hope to bind our customers to us.”