Universal Fish Company (UFC), based in Kyiv, Ukraine, continues to produce seafood despite extensive damage to its facilities and financial losses caused by Russia’s invasion of the country.
The war, launched by Russia on February 24, 2022, had a direct impact on UFC operations when one of the company’s warehouses was bombed by Russian forces. UFC marketing department manager Tetiana Krupenko told SeafoodSource that the warehouse, combined with the destruction of a logistics sector in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, cost the company millions of dollars.
“It is too early to make an estimate, as 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 $15 million. [EUR 13.9 million]. Another loss amounting to around $20 million [EUR 18.6 million] was in the logistics center of the occupied part of the 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 was interrupted due to the Russian occupation, but according to Krupenko, the factory in kyiv is back in operation.
“Made in [the] The Kyiv facility was temporarily shut down on February 24,” Krupenko said. “We restarted it as soon as [the] to finish [of] March, early April. So far, only a few very basic items are produced.
The challenge, she said, is that accessing the raw materials needed to transform the business has become extremely difficult due to both the logistical challenges created by the war and the current high price of salmon. Moreover, the company is still unable to contact hundreds of its employees who worked at its plant in Kupyansk, Ukraine, occupied by Russia.
“462 Kupyansk employees remain under occupation without Ukrainian internet connection or telephone service. Our team in Kharkiv is also dangerous, as the situation there is still very tense,” Krupenko said. “The same for Dnipro and all the cities in the south and east. We continue to try to reconnect with all members of the team, but some of them have had to leave their hometowns. Well … what to say … even those who stay in kyiv and the west are not completely safe, because there are regular air raids and attacks there.
Krupenko says firmThe management of is unsure about the future of the company, but that the seafood business community inside and outside Ukraine is working together to help in the event of a need.
“Most companies try to survive and therefore to help partners, suppliers and customers and, of course, to support employees,” Krupenko said. “Several long-standing partners have lent their support. Here is an example: Cornelis Vrolijk … donated 19 tonnes of frozen sprats for an amount of 11,500 euros [USD 12,343]. The fish was repackaged by one kilogram at our production facility in Kyiv and provided as food aid to people in need throughout the war period.
Krupenko said the company looks forward to resuming operations inside and outside Ukraine as soon as possible.
“It is of vital importance to restore our production and activities as a whole and thus support the Ukrainian economy. Internal demand is much lower now, it’s just very basic items,” she said. “So any new export request would be highly appreciated. All new customers of [the] EU, US and [the] the rest of the world would be an opportunity for us.
Image courtesy of Universal Fish Company