UKRAINE – Atlas Exports, a Ukrainian berry producer, is the latest beneficiary of EBRD and the European Union (EU) support tailored towards helping food companies achieve European food production standards.
According to a statement from EBRD, the support offered through the Bank and Union-backed Small Businesses programme, helped Atlas Export introduce a food safety and quality management system that corresponds to international standards.
This, according to the European development finance institution, allowed Atlas Export to expand its export geography and sign contracts with leading European companies.
A need for conformance with international standards
When the company started its first export deals with countries in Eastern Europe, it faced doubts from European counterparts in terms of the product quality of Ukrainian producers, as well as strong demands for quality standards.
That made the company realise it needed to introduce a system of quality and food safety management.
“It was obvious to us that there was a direct connection between product quality and entrance to one of the most demanding and at the same time more profit-making markets,” shares Ivan Kalinin owner of Atlas Export
The Atlas Export team together with a business consultant developed a detailed submission plan for international certification, conducted an internal audit and implemented daily controls of production standards.
“We could see improvements in our production processes from day one of implementing the recommendations,” says Ivan.
The introduction of production process control and automation allowed the company to improve not only product quality but also labour productivity.
Process control and automation also significantly reduce costs for resources such as water and electricity.
The company increased its sales by 30 percent and expanded its client base in Western Europe (mainly in France, Germany, and the Netherlands).
“It opened a lot of doors that were previously closed for us,” notes Ivan.
Increasingly, Atlas Export’s clients want to track the entire process of berry production – from growing berries to freezing them; from transportation to delivery – in order to be certain that high standards are met at every production stage.
To satisfy the demand and meet changing market trends, Atlas Export has decided to start growing berries themselves.
“We have started with testing a land plot, but already have a clear understanding of the development direction and scaling,” says Ivan.
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