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“To save living souls”

How the war has changed the Ukrainian pet product market — an interview with Polina Kosharna.
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Many of our readers aren’t familiar with the Ukrainian pet market. Therefore let’s first take a look back to the time before the Russian invasion of Ukraine: how had the market for pet food and accessories developed before the war?

Like many other entrepreneurs, we were happy about the growing and developing market. It had to do with not only increased purchasing power but also the cultivation of the pet care culture, which is very important to us. Even in 2021, less than a quarter of the population fed their pets with ready-made pet food, and that number grew. It’s also worth mentioning that the lockdowns had a huge impact on the number of pets because, while staying at home, we needed someone to care for, cuddle, take for a walk, and find solace in.  

Having pets was the only way to go outside in some countries with very strict lockdown rules, wasn’t it?

Yes, the number of pets increased across the globe. Humanisation and personalisation were also very important factors that influenced the market. People who own pets are now called pet parents. Pets are considered family members and treated accordingly these days. Personalisation means wanting something special for your pet, such as special food or accessories that no one else has. 

What is the Suziria Group?

The Suziria Group is a Ukrainian family business. It incorporates Suziria Production, Suziria Distribution, and the Master Zoo omnichannel chain of pet shops. Founded in Ukraine 29 years ago, the group now operates all over the country and abroad, exporting products under its brands Priroda, ProVET, PET Fashion, Special One, Savory and Essence. 

Can you give a monetary estimate of the market?

In 2021, the Ukrainian market for pet food and accessories passed the 20 bn hryvnia (UAH) mark (500 mio euros)*. By our estimate, this market is made up of 75 per cent pet food, including treats, and 25 per cent non-food products such as litter, veterinary medicines and pet accessories. About one-third is covered by Ukrainian manufacturers. There are several big companies in Ukraine, including us. The rest is imported, predominantly through major international players.

Did Ukraine export pet products to other countries before the war?

Belarus and Moldova, which were very familiar with Ukrainian products, historically accounted for the majority of Ukrainian exports. But eventually, we and other exporters came to understand the needs of European consumers, and Ukrainian companies appeared on the map of Europe. Some of…

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