Ukraine-based Universal Fish Company continuing production despite setbacks from war

Published on
May 25, 2022
A graphic showing the Universal Fish Company getting back to work after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Kyiv, Ukraine-based Universal Fish Company (UFC) is continuing to produce seafood products despite significant damage to its facilities and financial losses caused by Russia’s invasion of the country.

The war, which Russia launched on 24 February, 2022, directly impacted UFC’s operations when one of the company’s warehouses was shelled by Russian forces. UFC Marketing Department Head Tetiana Krupenko told SeafoodSource that the warehouse, combined with the destruction of a logistics sector in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, cost the company millions of dollars.

“It is too early to make an estimate, as the hostilities have continued unabated, and the situation remains grim,” Krupenko said. “We lost over 5,000 tons of frozen fish in the largest warehouse, amounting to USD 15 million [EUR 13.9 million]. Another loss amounting to roughly USD 20 million [EUR 18.6 million] was in the logistic center in occupied part of Kharkiv region.

The company, she said, has two main production facilities in Ukraine: One in Kupyansk, in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, and a second in Schaslyve, in the Kyiv region. Production in Kupyansk has been halted due to Russian occupation, but according to Krupenko, the facility in Kyiv is back up and running.

“Production in [the] Kyiv facility was temporary stopped as of 24 February,” Krupenko said. “We have restarted it as of [the] end [of] March, beginning of April. So far, just a few very basic items are produced.”

The challenge, she said, is access to raw materials needed by the company for processing has become extremely difficult due to both the logistical challenges created by the war and the current high price of salmon. Additionally, the company is still unable to contact hundreds of its employees who worked at its facility in Russia-occupied Kupyansk, Ukraine.

“462 employees in Kupyansk stay under occupation without Ukrainian internet connection and phone service. Our team in Kharkiv is also unsafe, as the situation there is still very tense,” Krupenko said. “Same for Dnipro and all cities in south and east. We keep trying to reconnect with all team members, yet some of them had to leave their hometowns. Well ... what to say ... even those who stay in Kyiv and west are not fully safe, as there are regular air alerts and hits there.”

Krupenko said firm's leadership is unsure of the company's future, but that the seafood business community within and beyond Ukraine is working together to lend help where needed.

“Most of businesses are trying to survive and thus to help partners, suppliers, and customers and, of course, to support employees,” Krupenko said. “Several long-term partners provided support. Here is one of the examples: Cornelis Vrolijk ... donated 19 tons of frozen sprats amounting to EUR 11,500 [USD 12,343]. The fish was repacked by one kilogram at our Kyiv production facility and provided as food aid to needy persons throughout the war period.”

Krupenko said the company is eager to resume business inside and outside of Ukraine as soon as possible.

“It is vitally important to restore our production and business overall and thus to support Ukraine's economy. Internal demand is much lower now, it is just about very basic items,” she said. “So, any new export request would be highly appreciated. Any new customer from [the] E.U., U.S.A., and [the] rest of the world would be an opportunity for us.”  

Image courtesy of Universal Fish Company

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