From idea in the Netherlands to Greenz! LLC in Ukraine
The inspiring story of Marco Faas about setting up production of plant-based protein food products in Ukraine was announced in the Eiwit Special. Now you can read it in detail.
Marco Faas is a co-owner of Siveele, a Dutch producer of natural ingredients for (mainly) the food industry. The company produces and sells shelf life extenders, yield makers and recently also introduced plant based vegan powder mixes to create high-end meat substitutes. Users of Siveele ingredients are professional manufacturers in mainly the food industry. Siveele as a company already was doing business in Eastern Europe including Ukraine.
“Since vegan products become more and more popular all over the world, I had the idea for a while to create a new brand in Eastern Europe/C.I.S. region, with a preference for Ukraine. Plant based vegan burgers ready to sell to consumers by retailers, a final product. As for this, I strongly believe vegan products will be a very important part of the food-future. Healthy, sustainable and far less environmental pollution. And I also believe the Ukrainian people, especially the young generation, are ready, step by step, to make the switch to vegan products. To make it a natural part of the daily diet. The same development we see these days in Western Europe. Healthy food, a better world, a happy life!
However, I did not want to execute this production- and marketing-process from The Netherlands. I prefered to start the operation in the region itself. Because I believe people should and must be proud of their local products! Local production, less and faster logistics, cost efficient and local marketing. Making use of Dutch technology, with backup of my Siveele team and basic ingredients. Production, packaging, marketing and sales in, and in the future also export from Ukraine. With a first focus on the C.I.S. and Middle East. From my side, as director of a Dutch exporting company, I have a lot of experience in this field.
I definitely can see that Ukraine as an agricultural country has a lot to offer! And as we are used in my country, we constantly try to find partnerships. To collaborate, to make advantage of each others knowledge and capacity. So in fact, I was looking for a reliable business partner in Ukraine. Experienced in the food industry, very much into innovation and prepared for the future. And of course able to produce the burgers. But above all, a partner who also believes in plant based products and actually wanted to join as a shareholder in a new Ukrainian LLC, to create true partnership, real commitment.
After a lot of desk research, the first actual step in the second part of 2020 was to get in touch with a number of organizations, like RVO in the Netherlands, Ukraine Invest and the Dutch Embassy in Ukraine. Thanks to their advice and pro-active support, we did find several interesting companies and visited them end 2020. So, the journey, the new adventure actually has begun with a wonderful first impression, I really experienced a lot of local support and also a great hospitality by Ukrainian people. Thanks also to the great support of the Zhytomyr Regional Development Office who in fact introduced me to the company that finally became my business partner, Organic Meat/Milk in Baranivka, Zhytomyr Oblast, a leading Ukrainian certified producer of organic meat, milk, eggs, and cereals.
So I can say, despite of the Covid pandemic, last year definitely was a wonderful experience. From rough “idea” to initial contacts to a real agreement of partnership. Greenz! was born!
I am a foreigner in Ukraine, of course there was also a lot of paper work to deal with, like the incorporation of Greenz! LLC, obtaining a working permit, opening a bank account and so on. Dealing with local lawyers, accountants and other consultants who also did a great job. In fact, everything was settled in just a few months!
Last couple of months we finished the brand design and made the first runs of test batches of the burgers. And end October 2021, exactly a year after my first trip to Ukraine, we actually introduced our burgers at the Local to Global Expo in Kyiv. Exciting moment, first feedback was definately positive and promising! Also Irina Dudiak and Reinoud Nuijten of the Dutch Embassy visited us at the Expo in Kyiv.
Coming months will be quite important for Greenz! Follow ups, meetings with small, medium size and large retailers and distributors. Starting up production, fine tuning of all kind of details. And of course we will study the response of consumers regarding to our plant based burgers.
Doing business abroad is always a challenge, but at the same time also a great adventure. Last year Ukraine, Kyiv has become a kind of second home for me. And everytime I’m back in the country, it’s always a true pleasure for me. For sure, for the future I will definitely be in Ukraine on a very regular base, for business and for friendship, already looking forward to it, with pleasure!”