Ukraine is more than a country currently at war with Russia or a former Soviet republic. It also happens to be a promising exporter of agricultural products. To promote this side of the country's image Oleksiy Pavlenko, Ukraine’s Agriculture Minister, decided to start a flashmob on Twitter. He asked followers to look for products made in Ukraine in grocery stores around the world, to photograph them, and post the photos with the hashtag #FoodUA.
Наш аграрний експорт охоплює майже 190 країн! Побачите за кордоном укр.продукцію – повідомляйте, викладайте фото! Пишаймося разом! #Україна
— Олексій Павленко (@Pavlenko_OM) September 5, 2015
We export agricultural products to almost 190 countries! If you see Ukrainian products abroad, let us know, post pictures of them! Let’s be proud together.
The flashmob was launched almost two weeks ago, around September 5. Since then, twitter users have posted over four thousand photos of Ukrainian foods in stores around the word. The majority of posts come from the United States, Germany, Latvia, China, and the United Arab Emirates.
In his interview to Radio Liberty, Pavlenko said that the main purpose of the #FoodUA online initiative was to demonstrate that the Ukrainian agricultural sector has a powerful export potential. The Minister also said he wanted to bust a couple of myths. They mostly have to do with a popular belief among Ukrainians that the country’s agrarian exports are focused solely on countries of the former USSR and that most of these exports are raw materials, not finished products.
“This flashmob has demonstrated that we supply a lot of finished products that you can buy even in major grocery store chains abroad. They are tasty, popular and highly-valued,” Pavlenko said.
— Олексій Павленко (@Pavlenko_OM) September 16, 2015
Based on the analysis of the twitter posts with the #FoodUA hashtag, the top five of the most popular and widespread Ukrainian foods include chocolates and cookies (predominately the Roshen brand, owned by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko), all sorts of pickled vegetables, sunflower oil, tomato sauces, and buckwheat grain.
— Andrew Demchenko (@a_demchenko) September 14, 2015
Ukrainian sunflower oil in Walmart USA, the world's biggest [supermarket] chain, in support of @Pavlenko_OM and #FoodUA
— Irina Shkorbotun (@IrinaShkorbotun) September 6, 2015
Ukrainian buckwheat grain in Switzerland #FoodUA
— Надежда (@NadinAktiv) September 7, 2015
#FoodUA Roshen in American supermarkets. New York.
Other less popular finds included things like alcohol and watermelons.
— Вермінський Андрій (@Verminskyy) September 6, 2015
Ukrainian sparkling wine in Swiss stores.
— Andrij Melnyk (@MelnykAndrij) September 16, 2015
“The Pearl of Inkerman” of 2013 vintage on the shelves of Berlin's supermarkets proves that Crimea is Ukraine.
— Andrii Olefirov (@AndriiOlefirov) September 12, 2015
And this is a Ukrainian watermelon in a market in Helsinki.
Judging by the number of comments and retweets, the biggest surprise for Ukrainians was a photo of “made in Ukraine” cooking salt taken in Cyprus with a EUR2.26 ($2.56) price tag. Apparently, Ukrainians who are used to paying not more than $0.16 per one kilogram (2.2 lb) of cooking salt were not ready to pay the European price for authentic Ukrainian condiments.
— Yevheniia Dychko (@racunishka) September 7, 2015
Our salt is valued rather highly in Cyprus’ supermarkets #FoodUA.
Ukraine’ Radio Liberty journalists put together an interactive map of the geo-located coordinates of all the places where the flashmob photos came from. The map underscores what the photos have already hinted at: Ukrainian food seems to be available (and popular) all over the world. Click on each marker on the map to see the photo taken in that spot.