Ukrainian apple supplier Volodymyr Glus is searching for new export markets in Europe in response to Russia’s ongoing blockade of the Black Sea.

In this interview with FPJ editor Fred Searle, Glus explains the huge challenges that his supply business, Green Farm, has faced since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, setting out his ambition of reaching the UK market.

The producer’s apple farm is based in the Nemyriv district of Ukraine, 250km south-west of Kiev, and as the company’s CEO and co-owner, Glus’ aim is to establish alternative markets in Europe that can be reached by truck rather than container ship.

All orders from Green Farm’s previous export markets in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and Qatar) and South East Asia were cancelled earlier this year, leaving the supplier to rely solely on Ukraine’s ailing domestic retail market.

Glus is determined not to lay off staff and to keep paying their salaries as Ukrainians struggle to survive the war. Indeed, earlier in the conflict, when Green Farm had no income whatsoever, he continued paying workers’ salaries from his personal savings.

Meanwhile, five members of his team have taken up arms and joined the Ukrainian army’s fight against Russian forces.

“We have people that have to fight with guns,” he says, “but we also have the economy, and we have to develop the economy even in these difficult times.”

The Ukrainian apple exporter sees potential in the UK market due to improving economic relations between the UK and Ukraine, as well as the fact that Green Farm grows relevant varieties, such as Gala.

Green Farm would also benefit from the fact that in April the UK government reduced all tariffs on goods imported from Ukraine to zero and removed all quotas, as part Britain’s FTA with the country.