Experts are predicting that Ukrainian agriculture exports could reach or exceed a record-breaking $18 billion by the end of 2018, thanks in large part to growing demand from Asia, especially India.
According to official data, 2012 holds the current record for Ukrainian agricultural exports with $17.9 billion in international sales.
From January through to October this year, exports increased by about $140 million when compared to the same period of last year, according to analysts from the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club Association, or UCAB.
In the first 10 months of 2018, exports have already amounted to roughly $14.7 billion, the association has reported in a statement.
UCAB is bullish about Ukraine’s agriculture potential this year, reporting that there’s “every chance” the country will achieve record-breaking export numbers if there is “preservation of the current dynamics.”
Despite a modest lag in exports until August – when compared to 2017 – the final quarter of 2018 is seeing numbers catch up and exceed the previous year, according to the association’s experts.
So far this year, export of livestock product – almost entirely poultry – is up by about 12 percent, while rapeseed and corn is up by 3 percent and expected to increase more.
Finished food product, notably soybean meal, is also up by 4 percent.
Export of oils and fats from January through to October are down by 7 percent, a loss of $262 million according to UCAB experts who cite a drop in Chinese demand for these products for the decrease in sales.
Ukraine’s agriculture sector sees consistent growth – exports were up 16 percent last year, compared to 2016 – and farming is still seen a lucrative area for investors, even if the land sale moratorium and corruption in the agriculture sector remain points of frustration and concern to international observers.
Asian demand for Ukrainian food fuels growth
Experts here point to growing Asian demand, particularly from India and China, when they explain growth in Ukrainian agribusiness exports.
According a new report published on Nov. 14 by the Institute of Agrarian Economics in Kyiv, India remains the number one importer of Ukrainian food products while sales to European countries have declined slightly.
India imports 10 percent of all Ukrainian food product exports, according to the institute, while European Union countries combined account for about 31.5 percent.
“The main importer of [Ukrainian] agricultural products has been occupied for several years by Asian countries, which bought $5.7 billion worth of Ukrainian food products in the first nine months of 2018. Asia’s share during this period amounted to 43.8 percent of total exports of agricultural products,” the Agrarian Policy and Food Ministry said in a statement on Nov. 14.