Freshly baked loaves are helping to provide a sense of normality for locals in Ukraine but producing their daily bread amidst the ongoing conflict is not easy.

In a bid to help support communities impacted by the war, Zeelandia Ukraine managing director Andriy Vasylenko set up the Bake4Ukraine initiative. It was initially intended to ensure a regular supply of bread and soup to families with disabilities and the elderly, who had remained in the local area east of Kyiv. Since then, the initiative has evolved to focus on collecting, renovating, and supplying equipment to bakeries that have been destroyed or damaged by the fighting.

Building international awareness for the campaign, sister company Zeelandia UK has led efforts in Great Britain, enlisting the support of Tesco, Fine Lady Bakeries, and Montana Bakeries, who have donated surplus equipment to the cause which is collated at Zeelandia’s Colchester Technical Centre before being transported to Ukraine. Meanwhile, furniture and equipment donations from Zeelandia’s Netherlands site have also been used to support Ukrainian charities setting up shelters and refugee camps.

Staff at Zeelandia's technical centre in Colchester with a Ukrainian flag

Source: Zeelandia UK

David Amos (left) among Zeelandia UK staff with donated bakery equipment

At first, donations were used to support the operations of 10 smaller bakery businesses in towns and villages often impacted by damaged infrastructure and disruptions to ingredient supply, ensuring that all Ukrainian people could buy fresh bread.

But as the war progresses, efforts continue to support existing bakery businesses while encouraging initiatives to open smaller bakeries to ensure a regular supply of bread to those in need. This also helps provide employment and income to people who have been displaced by the conflict.

“On behalf of my team, on behalf of the local people who have found comfort and normality in the fresh smell of bread, on behalf of the Ukrainian commercial bakery industry and those within it, we would like to thank both our international colleagues at Zeelandia and industry partners that have come together to show their continued support,” Vasylenko said.

More support and equipment are needed so as Bake4Ukraine enters its third year, Zeelandia is calling on the baking industry to secure donations of second-hand bakery and cookery equipment including microwaves, refrigerators, and bakery tables, as well as cash donations for raw materials.

“We are incredibly grateful to all our close partners who have and continue to donate and offer support, giving Andriy and his team the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of local Ukrainian people. This demonstrates the power and importance of international communities working together to create a thriving commercial baking industry,” said David Amos, MD of Zeelandia UK. “If anyone in the industry wishes to provide equipment or other donations, please get in touch with me.”

Working together

A recent donation from Tesco, which arrived in Ukraine earlier this year, included mixers, dividers, intermediate provers, moulders, and convection ovens. The equipment filled two artic lorries and was enough for five medium-sized bakeries, the retailer said.

“In total we’ve donated four artic lorries of equipment that is still usable but has reached end of life from a Tesco perspective or is no longer part of our current equipment operating model,” Tesco bakery specialist for ISB John Lamper told British Baker. “AJ Bailey from the Tesco technical team and Miller’s Vanguard have been instrumental in terms of identifying, assessing, and then assembling the assets in readiness for delivery. It has then been Miller’s who have trucked the equipment to Zeelandia, Colchester for collection and distribution to Ukraine.”

On arrival in Ukraine, Zeelandia Ukraine’s specialist team of engineers repair and re-purpose the donated bakery equipment to make it suitable for use by local communities, including adjusting gas-powered equipment to run on electricity or wood pellets.

“Equipment has been delivered in various areas to local bakeries that had either been destroyed, severely damaged or had lost all of their equipment. In essence, the ISB equipment that was donated by Tesco has supported some of the communities that need it the most in Ukraine to begin baking again and providing food and jobs for the local people,” Lamper added.

Should you wish to donate bakery equipment to the Bake4Ukraine mission, or wish to learn more about what you can do to support the campaign, please contact David Amos at Zeelandia via