Yurii Malanyk’s mushroom farm is located in the Lviv region in the West of Ukraine and has been operating since 2009. It has 12 growing rooms with 18 tons of compost loading.
The official name of the company is SOVITA PLUS. The director there is Yurii’s wife, Ms. Maryana. She is very supportive of her husband, deals with papers, accounting, and document flow with supermarkets. She joined the business a year ago.
The slogan of Yurii Malanyuk’s farm is “Mushrooms from the greenhouse”, the products sold in the supermarket have the inscription “Fresh champignons” on the label.
Recently, Yurii and his supervisor took part in mushroom picking courses, which UMDIS agency regularly organises at a Polish mushroom farm. We had the opportunity to talk with Yurii Malaniuk about how it is to develop and invest in your mushroom business during the war.
–Yurii, all colleagues from around the world ask us at UMDIS how Ukrainian mushroom producers manage to work and develop their farms during the war. You are one of those who are good at it. Tell me how difficult this year – the year of the war – was for your business?
– It was difficult in the first month when the war started – because there was no sales. Mushrooms were taken to processing plants, as the markets almost stopped. But we didn’t load just the first week when the war started. Then we reduced the loadings – and continued to work. We knew that we would either throw away our mushroom – or make money. I was most afraid that if we stop, we will lose workers, women will “fly away” because we are close to the border. But we constantly gave them work – and they stayed. We never took advantage of the opportunity given by the governmetn not to pay taxes – to help the country.
– Since the beginning of the war, I see that your company has achieved new successes. For example, started to ship to supermarkets. Tell us how you began to actively develop despite the war in the country?
– The war prompted action. At the end of 2021, we registered a VAT company – SOVITA PLUS, but did not dare to start working with supermarkets. With the beginning of the war, problems with sales to the market began. On the contrary, supermarkets needed suppliers. We made proposals – and gradually they began to offer us cooperation in return. Finally – on 3rd of May – we sent our first mushrooms to the supermarker. I remember this date.
– Did you start with your local supermarket chains in Lviv and Western Ukraine?
– No, for some reason we started with the global Metro network. It was the beginning of May, there was not enough mushroom, because when the war started, mushroom producers were afraid to load, and there were problems with compost at that time as well. Therefore, at first, Metro offered us to bring the mushrooms to the capital Kyiv to cover the deficit here. In a month we were transferred to Lviv. At that time, they were also negotiating with “Silpo” market, but the volumes were too huge: they wanted very large parties at once. Then, at the beginning of the war, it was difficult to talk about large volumes, not knowing what would happen tomorrow.
We started active negotiations with Lviv chains.And quickly got hooked on them, signed contracts. We supply chains with mushrooms in our packaging with the brand label “Fresh champignons”.
– Which local supermarket chains are you cooperating with now?
– “Rukavichka”, “Svoy Market”. Also “Halytska Svizhina”, which had never sold mushrooms before. We started to offer the mushroom there. I knew the owner of this chain – I called him. He said: “interesting, you got there in time: I was just thinking about mushrooms.” His main product is fresh meat and ready-made meat products. It turned out that now it is fashionable to serve champignons on barbecue with meat. Ready-made meat for barbeque is sold in his supermarkets – that’s why the mushrooms can be sold also successfully. We concluded a contract – and for more than three months we have been steadily promoting champignons there.
– What percentage of your products is already sold via the supermarkets?
– We produce 42-45 tons of mushrooms per month – and we sell about 20% of them to chains. We want to increase this percentage, we are negotiating and conducting checks with some big players among the supermarket chains now. We plan to soon sell 35-40% via them, the rest through the cash market. We also supply caning factories with mushrooms. We have three contracts – we look where is closer to bring mushrooms, where is better – and choose the oprion. All open mushrooms are taken by the chain of restaurants and semi-finished products “Galya Baluvana”. And from recently, we have been selling very successfully through our store on the market.
– You said that you opened your point of sale on the market in Lviv.
– Yes, a new pavilion was built at the „Shuvar” wholesale market in Lviv. They implemented an interesting idea. Previously the mushrooms on the market were in one terminal – but scattered. And now they put everyone in one row – as you walk, everything is white. Open competition is very good, you can adjust the price. We bought a shop there – and from December 1 we started selling our own mushrooms.
– How did you develop clients` base in such fierce competition?
– At first I was afraid. Wholesalors – even those who sold our mushroom – already had a network of customers acquired over many years. I thought: how will we sell mushrooms? The first month was really difficult, because the client went to his familiar resellers – but not to us. Even when I offered to make a discount and said I am the producer. But it so happened that the mushroom of our farm was already known on the market – because it is calibrated. And when customers did not find our mushroom at their wholesalers, they came to us. To have this mushroom. Now we already have a small, but our own client base, which is enough to sell our mushroom.
– But I heard that you plan to expand production?
– At the moment, we have lack of mushroom. That is why we want to add some growing rooms. We bought the building before the war – planned it for warehouses. Then I didn’t know what to do with the empty part, but now I know! We want to equip 8 more 18-ton rooms, 950 briquettes each. I plan to reach 65-70 tons per month. I am negotiating with equipment suppliers.
– Is it not scary to invest during the war?
– Yes, scary and risky. But we have to work and help the country. To believe in it, to give people the opportunity to work – to speed up the time of our Victory!
Yurii Malanyuk is the owner of a mushroom farm in the Lviv region. We are proud of such mushroom producers as Yurii.
Yurii Malanyuk during mushroom picking courses by UMDIS 👇
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