Ukrainian poultry processor MHP HQ

Source: MHP 

The supplier is targeting reaching a 10% market share in the UK by the end of next year

Ukrainian poultry giant MHP plans to make significant inroads in the UK’s poultry sector over the next year-and-a-half.

With an annual turnover in excess of $2bn (£1.6bn), the Kyiv-heaqdquartered business describes itself as Europe’s largest and fully integrated poultry supplier.

And after opening a UK office in May 2021, its key focus is now to crack the UK retail market, said Aaron Gartshore, sales director at MHP Food UK.

MHP has 30,000 employees and processes nine million birds per week, exporting products sourced from farms across the south and west of Ukraine and manufactured at three processing sites to 80 countries around the world.

It is pitching itself as a competitor to Thai and Brazilian frozen chicken for the UK market, with an offering ranging from raw chicken and meat for use as an ingredient in products such as ready meals, through to value-added, cooked and coated products.

Its meat is currently farmed to meet the Global Gap animal welfare standard, while MHP has also committed to becoming a carbon neutral business by 2030, Gartshore said.

The business recently hired ex-Bernard Matthews factory manager and innovations boss for turkey Gavin Jessett as its new R&D manager. He will create products for the UK market at a soon-to-open development kitchen in MHP’s Welwyn Garden City base, before MHP mass produced ranges in its Ukrainian facilities, Gartshore added.

MHP already sells frozen chicken under the Qualiko brand in Farmfoods. It is also in discussions with other UK retailers, in line with its growth plans, to distribute more of its Ukranian-produced lines in the coming months.

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“Our market share is currently less than 1% in the UK, but we are aiming to grow this to at least 10% by the end of 2024,” Gartshore told The Grocer.

“We are able to a meet host of retailer requirements and even have plans to introduce sous-vide ready meals in the longer term.”

MHP’s primary, “moral and legal” responsibility was to ensure food security within Ukraine – particularly in the face of the ongoing conflict with Russia, he stressed, while pointing out the company’s supply chains were a significant distance from the war’s current focus in the east and southeast of the vast country.

Some 50% of its output caters to the domestic market, but the remaining 50% was dedicated to export markets in the UK, EU, Middle East and North Africa and Southeast Asia regions.

“The UK market is a key market for MHP, as the UK is seen as the best market in the world for producers to be in,” Gartshore said.

“It’s mature in relation to importing products from third countries, but more importantly, the UK is the key market for trends and innovation,” he added.

“If MHP can succeed in the UK, we can export these ideas to our other customers around the world.” 

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