Ukrainian company got export deal in Sweden

The apple company UApple in Ukraine got an export deal in Sweden last year and contracts with other EU-countries were soon to follow. Olga Oliinyk export manager takes us through a speedy and successful journey from startup to EU-supplier in only six years, partly thanks to Open Trade gate Sweden.

The company was founded in 2014 and employs 48 people. It’s situated in the South East where the soil and weather conditions are suitable for growing apples.

– The nights are cold and the days are warm. It helps our apples to be more colourful and sweet, Olga says.

Now that UApple is competing on the EU market, their apples have to add value. The company is working hard to constantly refine their methods and at the same time learn more about their target markets. Understanding and adapting to the international market has been important. Hence, a first step towards export readiness was to invest in voluntary certifications.

– We understood early on that our target markets require certifications ensuring that we follow standards set in their countries. We went for GAP+Grasp, which certifies our apples from a food safety point of view, but also certifies the working conditions of our staff, says Olga and continues:

– These certifications are very important, it shows the importers that we are reliable.

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Olga Oliinyk, export manager. Photo: Uapple.

Next step on the company’s way to the EU market was, according to Olga, the hardest one: ”to understand the mandatory requirements for products, packaging and documentation.”

– We studied the Open Trade Gate Sweden website, which has useful information, and we also talked to importers and learned from them too, Olga says.

Whilst learning all the necessary requirements, Olga and her team began exhibiting at trade fairs and courting importers. One importer from Sweden was half interested and gave UApple some advice on how to improve things. Last year Open Trade Gate Sweden organised a visit to Sweden, connecting suppliers and potential buyers. UApple was invited and among the buyers was the aforementioned importer. Now that they finally got to meet in person and the company had made all the improvements, they could seal the deal.

The Swedish deal was important in several ways, especially since since it opened the door to other EU-countries. Olga testifies to the difficulty of getting the attention of a purchasing manager ”when they don’t know your brand and you lack a track record of exporting”. To get that first deal with an EU country is significant. As a result UApple has managed to also get contracts with the UK, the Netherlands, Latvia and talks with more countries are underway.

What are your top three tips for getting an export deal in the EU?

1. Attend trade fairs and exhibit your products. The best way is to meet potential buyers in person.
2. Court importers, contact them by e-mail and phone and don’t give up if they don’t reply.
3. Try to persuade the importer to a trial shipment without prepayment.

Photo: Uapple