Sole Ukraine exhibitor at Seafood Expo Global vows to rebuild
Kalynivka, Ukraine-based Ukrharchpromkomplex is the sole company from the country exhibiting at Seafood Expo Global, running from 26 to 28 April in Barcelona, Spain.
The company’s sparse exhibit booth reveals its current situation – instead of the salmon, whitefish, cod, and other products it would typically display, all Ukrharchpromkomplex General Manager Oleg Bilodid could bring to the show was a banner featuring the company name, the Ukrainian flag, and a folder containing photos showcasing the damage the company’s facilities have sustained in the conflict sparked by Russia’s invasion.
When the war began in February, Bioldid told SeafoodSource, the company halted production. Ukrharchpromkomplex's headquarters is located southwest of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, a primary target of the initial Russian invasion.
“We stopped production on the first day of the war, on the 24th of February,” he said. “When the situation in our area became more stable, we decided to start production on the 24th of March, so people had to come to work to cut fish.”
The production restart didn’t last long, however. At 2:05 a.m. the morning after production restarted, a Russian missile hit the company’s facilities.
“The missile hit, and it’s destroyed,” Bilodid said. “This is the missile, from Mr. Putin,” he added, pointing at a photo of the missile contained in the folder.
“Thank God nobody died, in both factories nobody died. That’s more important,” he said.
The facilities weren’t a complete loss, but its cold-storage facilities in both factories were damaged, causing Ukrharchpromkomplex to lose all its product. Bilodid said the company hopes to receive financial aid from Ukraine's government.
“No insurance, because it’s war,” he said.
Bilodid said that even though he had no product to showcase at Seafood Expo Global, attending the show was still important for the company so it could maintain connections with its customers. The company downsized its booth, largely due to financial difficulties.
“Every dollar is very important right now,” he said.
Now, the company has one focus: Get production back online.
“[Ukraine] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy is saying you guys have to create jobs again to recover the economy, and we want to do that,” Bilodid said.
To that end, renovations on Ukrharchpromkomplex's facilities have already begun, according to Bilodid.
“We are fixing and renovating the factory. The plan is to start production in one month, in 30 to 40 days we want to start production again,” he said. “Step by step, we are going to get back our business.”
Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource