Posted by: Randall Hager, Agricultural Attaché
Although it may not sound like an activity that fits within a diplomat’s usual duties, introducing new foods to Ukrainian consumers is an important part of our responsibility–and one that we enjoy. The Foreign Agricultural Service, an office within the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, takes pride in providing opportunities for Ukrainians to sample new products from the United States, and at the same time develop stronger bilateral trade and business.
On May 25, we had the pleasure of working closely with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and local company “Fish World Oceaniia” to highlight the value, quality, and taste of American seafood at their facilities just outside of Kyiv. The event was opened by Oceaniia leadership and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft. On May 26-27, visitors could test Alaskan seafood for themselves, and consumers’ comments were very positive.
Although Ukrainians have a tradition of consuming seafood, we highlighted the value and taste of “Wild, Natural, and Sustainable” Alaskan Pollack, Pink Salmon, Salmon Roe, and Flounder, a range of products that either have already or could well find a place on the Ukrainian table.
Alaska’s seafood industry expends considerable time and effort to not only promote their industry’s products in international markets, but to maintain their fishery industry in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. Ukraine’s consumers discovered high quality U.S. seafood in the mid 2000’s with U.S. salmon and salmon roe. Since that time, exports of U.S. fish have grown. We know that in recent years Ukrainian consumers’ preferences are slowly migrating from traditional less expensive fish as disposable income has grown. This has opened a new market segment for U.S. suppliers. Additional demand has come from the developing Ukrainian domestic processing industry and food service sector that consumes more and more fish.
In 2011, Ukraine’s import volume exceeded the best pre-crisis years. Last year, trade in seafood with the United States increased by 49 percent. In terms of trade volume, the United States became Ukraine’s second largest partner after Norway with $47 million of exports. This trade volume is significant, and beneficial to Ukrainian retailers and processors.
Like all consumers of Alaska seafood products all over the world, Ukrainian consumers deserve a top quality product that will satisfy their need for natural and safe food – that is also delicious. Working with Ukrainians to help them to learn about and ultimately enjoy these products is one of my favorite aspects of my work.
More information on Alaska Seafood can be found at: http://www.alaskaseafood.org