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How organic companies are affected by the Ukraine war - and how they are helping

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A field of yellow flowers and the blue sky.
A lot of cereals are imported from Ukraine. Due to the war, it is hard to obtain raw materials from there.

For more than three weeks, Russia has been waging war against Ukraine - and so far there is no end in sight. In addition to the extensive economic policy sanctions imposed by Western countries against Russia, more and more companies have curbed or completely suspended their economic activities in or with Russia since the invasion began on February 24. Among them are major food manufacturers such as Danone, Nestlé, Coca-Cola and chocolate maker Lindt.

At the end of last week, German grocery retailers Lidl and Kaufland announced they were removing products made in Russia from their ranges. Earlier, Rewe announced the delisting of Russian goods in all Rewe and Penny stores. So did Netto. Aldi removed Russian liquor from its shelves.

Weleda stops deliveries to Moscow

Organic brands are also reacting to the situation. Natural cosmetics manufacturer Weleda has stopped deliveries to its Russian branch in Moscow, suspended all marketing activities in Russia and closed its online store there. "Weleda condemns the belligerent act of the Russian regime and wants to work towards an end of the war with this step," the company informs.

Frozen food manufacturer Followfood also halted operations at its fish factory around 1,000 kilometers northwest of Moscow in solidarity with Ukraine, Handelsblatt reported. Meanwhile, cooking oil producer Bio Planète and natural cosmetics company Laverana suspended goods deliveries to Russia for the time being. "We have not made any deliveries to Russia since the start of the Ukraine war," Laverana announced.

Organic raw materials from Ukraine are hard to come by

Very few producers that interviewed export their products to Russia or Ukraine. And for those who do, and currently do without, this has noticeable, but not serious consequences. At Sodasan, for example, the volume of sales in the two countries last year was about five percent; "the economic consequences are therefore not insignificant, but nevertheless manageable," says Kerstin Stromberg. The Russian business accounts for the same share of sales at Followfood.

It's a similar picture at Weleda: in 2020, sales in Russia (8.2 million Euros in sales) and Ukraine (1.8 million Euros in sales) accounted for just over two percent of the natural cosmetics manufacturer's total business. In addition to its Russian site, Weleda also operates a base in Ukraine. The salaries for employees there will continue to be paid for the time being, Tobias Jakob, Global Communications at Weleda, announced upon request. Followfood is also continuing to pay its employees for the time being, writes Handelsblatt.

The import of raw materials is suffering more than the export of goods, especially from Ukraine, where the supply of its own population has absolute priority. According to the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), in 2019 the country was the second largest supplier of organically produced agricultural products to the European Union in terms of volume. "These are mainly cereals, oilseeds and oil press cake," BMEL writes in its May 2021 "Ukraine Country Report".

How organic companies are helping people in and from Ukraine

To help the millions of people on the ground and on the run, natural food and natural goods manufacturers are getting involved in a variety of ways.

From the Hanover region, trucks from the freight forwarder Köster & Hapke brought 35.000 care products from Laverana to the central warehouse of the charitable donation platform Innatura in Cologne. "It is important to us to be able to help quickly and unbureaucratically in such a dramatic situation. Innatura is through an international network in a position to immediately arrange the required donations in kind to registered institutions and can thus send relief supplies to where they are currently most urgently needed," shares Laverana shareholder Claudia Haase. Another 3,000 products from the natural cosmetics manufacturer went to a refugee camp in Poland.

Weleda donated 100,000 Euros to various aid organizations, "largely in the form of money, but also partly in the form of Weleda products," the company informs.

Bars, milk alternatives, cookies and muesli  more than 160 pallets of goods have been brought by Allos Hof-Manufaktur to Ukraine via Poland, informs Managing Director Eicke Mehlhop. "Our colleagues from the Netherlands are sending us another 15 pallets of food for being transported to Ukraine," says Mehlhop. 20 pallets of vegetable broth from the Allos brand Little Lunch were delivered to people in need via the Ministry of Agriculture.

Rapunzel provided pallets of chocolate for an aid transport to western Ukraine. Ökofrost supported the Ukraine-Hilfe Berlin association with monetary donations and is currently in contact with the Berliner Tafel, which helps with the initial supply of refugees.


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