Moving forward – getting Ukrainian produce back on track

10/07/2022 | 4 min

On the 12th of May this year, the EU Commission launched the EU Ukraine solidarity initiative with an Action Plan dedicated to solving logistics problems caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine to support.

Ukraine exports 50% of the world’s sunflower oil, 15% of its corn, and 10% of its wheat. Most of this is normally shipped through ports in the Black Sea. However, due to closed harbors as a result of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian agricultural producers couldn’t export their goods for several months. Hence, the EU Commission reached out to European logistics professionals, including Transporeon, to help ship goods into the world and prevent a global food crisis. Recently, Russia has slowly opened the ports to access the Black Sea again. Nevertheless, the stability of the situation remains unclear.

Providing a route for vital produce

Many countries rely on Ukrainian exports. According to the United Nations, 8 to 13 million people could starve if these supply lines fail. The EU’s Solidarity Lanes provide a way to support Ukraine in the current crisis and strengthen the bond between Ukraine and the EU.

Ukraine had stored 40 million tons of grains in May with the goal of exporting 20 million tons by the end of August in order to free up storage space for new harvests. Estimates suggest an export project on this scale would require 10,000 barges and 300 large ships – or 1 million trucks.

Without external support from transport and logistics professionals, there simply wouldn’t be anywhere to store the 50 million tons of produce set to be harvested during the upcoming season, which is why action from all sides was required fast. The solidarity lanes introduced by the EU helped export an increasing amount of goods over the summer months. According to the EU Commission, the initiative has already helped export 10 million tons of agricultural goods. However, calculations show that exports are not leaving Ukraine fast enough even with open ports.

Not all plain sailing

While exports have improved and we can see light at the end of the tunnel, there continue to be challenges that are slowing down progress and need to be resolved. The solidarity lanes were the only solution to transporting produce out of Ukraine while the Black Sea was closed, but several complications related to border crossings, different rail widths in different countries , personnel shortages, and many more problems are delaying transports.

These problems have also increased prices for agricultural products. Thus, poor countries in Africa and the Middle East, which rely solely on imports, must pay prices beyond their financial abilities. To make matters worse, many products aren’t even reaching the countries in which they are needed most.

Despite these challenges, there are plenty of positives. Many ships have already reached their final destinations, making vital supplies available to millions of people around the world, and there’s much more to come. Without the EU’s action plan, we would probably still be talking about warehouses full of goods, but finally we are seeing the rate of transportations accelerate.

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What’s next on the exporting table?

To create a matchmaking logistics platform, the EU Commission reached out to logistics players like Transporeon. As the leading transportation management platform and provider of transportation visibility, we feel honored to participate in such an important project. By offering real-time visibility, freight procurement, and execution capabilities, we’re helping connect different stakeholders and optimize transportation processes. Our mission is to bring transportation in sync with the world, so we’re always keen to invest our expertise in worthwhile initiatives such as the Ukraine solidarity lanes. We must also thank our community and their eagerness to help: in total, more than 200 shippers and carriers registered on our platform.

While it seems like the situation has relaxed after ports opened again, we should not forget the harvest yet to come. Due to delays in shipments over the Black Sea, providing grain to the world is still a challenge. Thus, working together closely and matching needs for transport services with logistics professionals should stay a focus in the current crisis. Additionally, the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine leaves uncertainty over port openings in the future. In order to finish off the harvesting season smoothly, Ukraine still relies on logistical support. Every logistics professional who has free capacities is encouraged to register through our platform and to offer their services to Ukrainian suppliers. Together, we can move the remaining 50 million tons of produce.

Even though inland transportation is more complex, we can connect grain and wheat suppliers to logistics professionals that offer the best capacities and can ship goods for comparable prices to the waterway. This opens new possibilities for Ukrainian shippers, now and in the future. Our platform does not just help connect logistics professionals, it also enables to detect the best possible transportation options and provides agility in crises such as the current. Thus, building trustworthy connections now is also an investment in the future.

Building a collaborative future

Emphasizing the importance of projects like the Solidarity Lanes, we recorded a podcast together with The Retail Exchange. And we agreed: the industry is changing. What looks difficult at first glance, is often just a matter of perspective. Logistics professionals can reduce uncertainty by investing in great risk management and contingency planning. By following a multimodal approach, they can further build sustainable processes. And more importantly, collaboration must be at the heart of every logistics operation. The Solidarity Lanes Project is only one example of what we can achieve when different players in the industry work towards a common goal.

With increasing challenges globally, we at Transporeon are incredibly proud to have the agility to act when needed. We connect logistics players to a global freight network of +1,400 shippers and +145,000 carriers, giving them the platform to communicate, collaborate and share data to realize new business opportunities.

Find out more about the project here: transporeon.com/solidaritylanes