Ukrainian walnut company makes contacts in Sweden

Man and woman standing at an exhibition stand with walnuts

Oleg Moroz with his collegue at a trade fair in Paris. Photo: Slow Walnuts

The principles of sustainable and small-scale production are the cornerstones of the Ukrainian company Slow Walnuts. The company is now investing in selling its walnuts on the Swedish market, and through Open Trade Gate Sweden, they have managed to make the right contacts. An agreement with a large Swedish importer may soon be in place.

Slow Walnut’s founder, Oleg Moroz, says that Ukraine has a long tradition of walnut cultivation. Virtually every family has walnut trees on their land and grows them for their own use. There are many walnut trees in the Ukrainian countryside. As much as 99 per cent of Slow Walnut’s harvests come from private gardens and wild trees. And that is something Oleg Moroz is proud of:

“The walnuts are grown in a biodiverse environment; with no need for irrigation or pesticides.”

OTGS opened doors to the Swedish market

In its work to find new markets for the sustainable product, the company is particularly interested in Sweden and Scandinavia. The company feels that there is both an awareness and an interest in how food is produced and an understanding that it is not just appearance and taste that matters:

“Food awareness is high. Organic products are more accepted, as consumers are more responsible and more open than in many other European countries.”, says Oleg Moroz.

Open Trade Gate Sweden has proven useful in breaking into the Swedish market. In 2023, the company was chosen as one of 18 selected food producers to participate in the Market Orientation Mission programme. The programme is organized by Open Trade Gate Sweden in collaboration with Ukrainian Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion (EEPO), as part of the National Board of Trade’s support to developing countries.

Market knowledge and networking on the programme

The programme consisted of two parts: The first part was online training, to create a theoretical understanding of what characterizes the Swedish market and how it works. Step two was to visit Stockholm with participation in the Sthlm Food & Wine Expo. It provided an opportunity to meet consumers, in a way that would otherwise not be possible, says Oleg Moroz. However, his most beneficial experience was the scheduled visit to Sweden’s two biggest retail chains.

“Firstly, it was very well organised. They dedicated their time and were well-prepared and open to questions. Our job after that was to create some interest.”

After learning more about how the retail industry thinks in terms of sustainability, logistics and purchasing, it was time to introduce the company and their products to purchasing managers. And the results were not long in coming.

Walnuts in a basket

Photo: Slow Walnuts

An agreement within reach

The two retail chains showed great interest in the Ukrainian company’s products. Within a week, negotiations with one of the importers was underway. Slow Walnuts is currently undergoing a supplier qualification process.

“We sent them samples and now we are waiting for their feedback. We will probably be approved as a supplier,” says Oleg Moroz proudly.

He believes that this would not have been possible without the help of Open Trade Gate Sweden:

“We would not be able to arrange such high-calibre quality meetings ourselves. Thanks to the Open Trade Gate Sweden, they very quickly became a reality. It’s a mix of their skills and their reputation that has made it possible to arrange these meetings.

“This mission was result-focused. I’ve participated in similar missions, but this was the best one”, concludes Oleg Moroz.