In 2016, METRO Ukraine decided to bring those two developments – the need to support Ukrainian agriculture and the demand for sustainable, local and healthy products – together and initiated the project “FERMOVE”.
FERMOVE links three actors: farmers in Ukraine, seed and fertilizer producers – and finally METRO Ukraine as the trade company, offering sales channels, namely in the 26 METRO stores across the country.
The project was launched with 30 farmers. They received high-quality seeds and fertilizers as well as consultancy for every step of their farming process from METRO’s partners. The objective: increasing productivity, food quality and food safety in a sustainable way. The first partner was Syngenta. Today, four other seed and fertilizer suppliers – RIJK ZWAAN, Sakata, Enza Zaden and Bejo – have joined the programme, which also enjoys strong support of the Ministry of Economic Development and Agriculture of Ukraine.
After harvest, METRO Ukraine takes over all logistics, ensures packaging and transport in accordance with international standards and Ukrainian regulation in the field of food safety. Therefore, quality control is guaranteed until the product is being put on the shelf and sold under the own-brand name “FERMOVE” at reasonable prices to METRO customers. By cooperating with farmers directly and eliminating the “middlemen”, participating farmers increase their income.
These factors have proven to be an ingredient for success: The number of participating farmers has increased dynamically. Today, METRO Ukraine works with 70 farming enterprises, from Kherson to Odesa and Kharkiv. The challenge today is not to increase the number of farmers – but to promote farmers’ business development in a meaningful way.
The produce of FERMOVE farmers has increased in volume but also in categories. Today, the assortment includes 229 commodity items like onions, pepper and pumpkin in 24 categories. In 2019, the season share of “FERMOVE” products in the fruits and vegetable assortment in METRO Ukraine stores was 69 per cent. For 2020, METRO Ukraine seeks to reach a 75 per cent share.
FERMOVE has become a strategic initiative that allows METRO Ukraine to differentiate itself from local competitors, to become an authentic actor in supporting local farming – and in promoting a healthy food culture in Ukraine. And it has become an example of a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership between large international businesses and local farmers. Finally, it has created new communities, linking farmers to consumers.