Ice-cold innovations

Everyone in Ukraine knows and loves Rud. Their frozen dairy and sorbet treats like the “Impreza” and “Eskimos” have cooled the taste buds of the young and old alike for years. Svitlana Lysak heads up the firm’s laboratory and is responsible for quality control. She participated in the MP in 2016, travelling to Germany to gather some inspiration for her work and to see how quality management is done in German enterprises. While there, she also concluded some new supply contracts.

Zhitomir, 120 kilometres west of Kiev, is home to the most popular ice cream factory in Ukraine. More than 150 different varieties are produced at Rud and delivered to around 56,000 points of sale where Ukraine’s 42 million citizens snap them up. Rud ice cream is also exported to many countries, including Israel, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Iraq, the Czech Republic, Poland and the USA. Since 2018, Rud ice cream has also been available in Germany. It is distributed by a company specialising in the distribution of Eastern European foodstuffs.

“Establishing new business contacts is not that easy”, Lysak says, and there is a lack of trust in business partners and food from her homeland. She recalls that many of her emails used to go unanswered, until the MP taught her the importance of personal contact. “Now I really prepare more professionally for face-to-face meetings with potential partners. I have modernised the content, structure and design of my business presentation and geared it to international business contacts”, she says. This excellent preparation and the support of the sales department helped her establish a working relationship with the German trading company. The partnership has continued to grow from the first trial shipment of ice cream and frozen fruit. “We have increased the quantity and range of varieties with each delivery, which include frozen alcoholic deserts for the first time this season”, Lysak says.

Lysak applied to the Programme looking for new inspiration for her role as a quality expert. Like all food firms, Rud has to meet very strict quality guidelines. Lysak and the 30 employees under her leadership ensure that the enterprise is always compliant. She started there 16 years ago as a laboratory assistant and has remained loyal to the firm ever since. “I really enjoy my work”, the engineer says. Completing the MP has helped her hone her management skills, and she particularly valued the on-site visits and the insight they provided into the management of German medium sized enterprises. These included Pulsnitzer Lebkuchenfabrik GmbH in Saxony and Capron GmbH, a Saxon motorhome manufacturer from Neustadt that focuses on quality management, certification and marketing for its motorhomes.

“The MP has helped us improve the way we do business”, Lysak says. During training, Lysak learned the key factors to take into account when conducting negotiations with German partners and how to avoid common mistakes, like the wrong business attire or gifts. “My time in Germany and the things I learned there have given me more self-confidence, and helped me better structure my work”, the entrepreneur says. Although Rud holds a certificate for export to the EU and Germany, in the near future, the next challenge for Lysak will be getting her product lines listed outside the niche market for Eastern European specialities. The German ice cream market is highly competitive. In 2017, Germany surpassed the birthplace of gelato, Italy, to take first place in European ice cream production with a total of 517 million litres manufactured. Nevertheless, Lysak is confident: “I know our product is good and can hold its own on the demanding German market. That is a really good feeling”, she says.

Pictures: © Rud/S. Lysak