Ukrainian army feasts on meals prepared by cat food distributor

Two entrepreneurs who started a pet food business in late 2021 switched gears this year. Today, the Kaniville business feeds Ukrainian troops and helps local supermarkets stock their shelves.

Taras Lyssenko has worked for several years to start the production of dog and cat food in metal cans by October 2021 near Kanev, which is in Cherkasy Oblast in central Ukraine. In February of this year, the war of Russian aggression began.

Supply suddenly exceeded demand.

“The first week after the war started, we were all shocked by what was happening. I started calling clients I knew personally,” Lysenko said in a Pravda report. “In two weeks we have not received a single order and not even an answer to the question of when new deliveries will be possible. Even in peaceful Transcarpathia.”

Ukrainian soldiers
Ukrainian Territorial Defense soldiers have lunch at their defensive outpost in the woods June 29, 2022 in Kramatorsk region, Ukraine. A pet food company in Ukraine called Kaniville is now making human food in its processing plant.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Nearly 100 people worked for the company, which meant that the payroll was still expected. They did odd jobs in the factory until one day an associate of Lyssenko had an idea.

“At the beginning of March, my partner Ihor, who lives in Cherkasy, was going to the factory in Khmilna and saw how free chicken meat was distributed to people from a truck right on the highway. They had nowhere where to sell the goods, they also stopped working on the usual supply channels,” Lyssenko said.

Lyssenko and his partners devised a new plan to work with local poultry factories to buy chickens at a discount. They came up with a recipe, tested the product, and soon had several thousand cans ready to ship.

They have developed food suitable for humans on the same machines that they make pet food.

“On the equipment where we used to make animal feed, you can make canned food. We had almost everything except recipes,” Lyssenko said, noting that the equipment is “washed in a special way” because they produce always dog and cat food. “In one store, on one equipment, it is possible to produce canned food for people and animals according to the standards, but you have to spread the production over time. The equipment is washed in a special way.”

Lyssenko said Kaniville receives raw materials and stores them in freezers. From there, workers chop the meat and put it into a pipeline that feeds it into cans. After starting human food production, requests poured in.

“We developed our brand – Kaniville, created a simple packaging design. Later it turned out that it was very similar to Polish pâté. The Poles wrote that, of course, we Ukrainians love you a lot, but why is it so similar? That’s why we changed the label,” Lysenko said.

The initial flavors of the human diet were chicken and liver pate. The war intensified in March and April and it became difficult to obtain raw materials. It was then that Kaniville launched a progressive marketing campaign.

“In March-April, we were saved by close communication with the poultry farm,” Lyssenko said. “From May, the interruptions started: sometimes the beef disappeared and its price increased, then the pork. In October, we had a big order for chicken stew, but the partners of the poultry farm didn’t haven’t confirmed the supply. We were looking for chicken all over the country.”

Kaniville started finding more chicken and also started working with meat vendors. This included the OPOS company, which supplies beef to McDonald’s.

The company produces approximately 2 million cans of human food per month, in addition to thousands of cans of pet food.

Of these 2 million boxes of human food, approximately 45% ends up on grocery store shelves, 35% is purchased by humanitarian and voluntary organizations for free distribution to those in need, and the rest goes to the needs of the community. Ukrainian army.

Kaniville has large generators to keep its plant operational in the face of continued Russian missile threats and power outages from the looming harsh winter.

“The generator allows continuous production of porridges and stews. For the production of pâtés, more power from the generator is needed,” Lyssenko said.