EBRD helps Ukraine's Best Alternativa improve quality of gluten-free goods

By Anastasia Dolmatova

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While the “gluten-free” food designation might not tempt the palette at first, cooking with wheat alternatives to replicate popular dishes is a real tour de force. Long before the gluten-free trend had even taken root in Kyiv, Ukraine, the Averkin was already cooking up a recipe to launch their healthy grains trademark- World's Rice.

Vitaliy Averkin had always been driven to fill an important market gap in high-quality, wholesome products that meet customers’ various dietary needs. With funding from the United States, the EBRD helped the small business implement a food quality and safety management system and enhance its competitiveness on the local market.

A wholesome motivation

“Produce quality and the health of our customers had always been our top priority. So it was only a matter of time before we began making ready-made gluten-free products to help people who are battling celiac disease,” says Vitaliy, co-owner and CEO of Best Alternativa. “We looked at the market trends and decided to expand our product range to rice, which is naturally gluten-free, and gluten-free flour.”

Since“gluten-free” was a relatively new concept for the Ukrainian market, the company required additional investment in new equipment and needed to comply with international quality standards.

“The retail chains we work with have become more demanding of their suppliers. Today they prefer companies that seek to improve and maintain the level of trust not only through advertising, but also by ensuring the appropriate quality of their products,” stresses Vitaliy.

Improving processes and raising standards

With support from the EBRD’s advisory programme for small businesses, the company implemented a food and grain safety management systems, and also worked to meet the international AOECS gluten-free standards for people with gluten intolerance.

The knowledge gained through the project allowed the company to better structure its production processes, reduce costs and introduce new technologies in the packaging process of finished products.

Best Alternativa also launched new production facilities for pressed sunflower oil and gluten-free mixes for baking, allowing the company to increase its product range and expand its customer base, resulting in a 30 per cent increase in turnover.

The increased production capacity has allowed the company to scale up production. In addition, a concept of continuous improvement is in place at Best Alternativa, which recently saw the construction of new product lines.

Employee engagement and future success

“The documentation for obtaining quality management standards helped increase employee involvement, increasing the level of individual responsibility they felt towards our organisation. We were able to achieve higher KPIs as a result. We guarantee stable product quality and are confident that healthy and wholesome food is the key to success and harmony for every person,” says Averkin.

“After the successful completion of the project with the EBRD, we plan to apply for another one and bring in consultants to develop project documentation for the expansion of production capacity, namely the construction of an elevator,” says the company owner.

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