Ukraine poultry exports almost bounces back, but customs blockade bites

During the first 9 months of 2023, Ukraine’s meat exports reached 350,000 tonnes, which is 10% more than the previous year, Taras Vysotskiy, Ukrainian deputy agricultural minister, wrote on his Facebook page. But, as Polish and Slovak truckers keep blocking border crossings, the poultry industry, among other export-oriented segments of the national economy, is braced for catastrophic consequences.

“Even in the context of war and an economic downturn, Ukrainian businesses managed to save their capacities to ensure production growth,” Vysotskiy said. “Providing that we will keep up the pace, by the end of the year, we will achieve 95% of the pre-war [export] level. Given the circumstances, this is a very good result.”

Poultry accounts for over 90% of Ukrainian meat exports, Vysotskiy estimated. Exports remain diversified, though compared with 2021, logistics changed dramatically, as seaports can no longer be used for delivering meat to foreign customers.

“Because of the war, exporters, of course, had to reorient supplies since a part of the products were transported through seaports. But since the cost of a tonne of meat is much higher than a tonne of grain, the change in logistics did not have such an impact on the export of these products,” Vysotsky emphasised.

The largest purchasers of Ukrainian meat in 2023 are the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Slovakia, he said. The European Union remains the main market for Ukrainian farmers, though export supplies also flow to the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Poultry industry suffers from border blockade

The poultry industry is one of the economic segments poised to suffer from the blockade of border crossing by Polish and Slovak truckers, Vysotskiy said in a separate statement. While grain and oilseeds are exported by rail, agricultural products with higher added value are primarily moved by trucks. This means that poultry export from the country has been affected by the blockade in the past weeks.

Polish hauliers started their protest on 6 November over a complaint that they are losing out to Ukrainian companies which offer lower prices for their services and are transporting goods within the European Union rather than just between the bloc and Ukraine.

The protest largely disrupted Ukrainian exports and imports, as indicated by Ukrainian government officials.

“Blocking traffic on the border between Poland and Ukraine: the situation is catastrophic!” Ukrainian rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said in a statement on his social media channels.