Sunflower Oil from Ukraine: From Field to Plate

Interview with Hans Karall, CEO of Vimeksim International GmbH

Hans Karall, CEO of Vimeksim International GmbH
Hans Karall, CEO of Vimeksim International GmbH

So far, the Vimeksim International GmbH, originally founded in Ukraine, has primarily been engaged in the primary production of agricultural raw materials. A year ago, the company finally launched its own sustainable sunflower oil under the brand Vieno in 100% compostable packaging. CEO Hans Karall spoke with Wirtschaftsforum about the new product range and his company's further commitment in Ukraine.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Karall, with Vieno sunflower oil, Vimeksim GmbH is currently taking a new direction in its company history. How did this come about?

Hans Karall: Our company was originally founded in Ukraine and has been primarily involved with agricultural commodities for many years. To this day, we have remained very close to the primary production to always be able to meet our standard of representing the entire value chain ‘from Field to Fork’ with quick routes and a comprehensive view of the final product. With Vieno, we have now been able to take the final step towards the finished consumer product and would like to establish ourselves in the market beyond the cultivation and trade of sunflower seeds and oil precursors.

Wirtschaftsforum: You are also taking new paths in the packaging of your sunflower oil.

Hans Karall: The issue of sustainability has always been of particular importance in our company, where we have always valued a holistic view that also goes beyond the actual product: Based on a study by the University of Vienna, our partner company has developed filling bottles made from sugar. These sustainable PLA or No-Plastic bottles not only make the use of plastic obsolete but also decompose in industrial compost without any residue within four weeks.

Vimeksim International - PLA Bottles from Vieno
In nature, the PLA bottles from Vieno decompose completely on their own within four weeks
Vimeksim International - Bottling of Sunflower Oil
In the bottling of sunflower oil

Wirtschaftsforum: How would you like to position Vieno in the market?

Hans Karall: Our goal is to establish a strong name for ourselves in the market with our high-quality product and our clear stance. Currently, we are still in the initial phase of our communication efforts, which we will undoubtedly significantly expand in the near future. It is particularly important to us to always convey our developed stance in a substantive manner and to pursue innovative approaches that are consistent with our company's approach: Because we believe that the eye also "eats", we want to create not only an attractive bottle with a beautiful label but also to arouse desire for our product through aesthetic communication. We are currently giving young artists a platform to recreate well-known paintings for our appearances on social media, incorporating products from Vimeksim in their representations. This underlines that we only deal with the best products that nature has to offer – which are themselves small works of art. In this way, we also want to encourage consumers to enjoy a meal together with our oils and a sustainable togetherness, which we also see as a societal task: the proportion of people working in agriculture has noticeably decreased in Central Europe over the last few decades, reducing direct personal contacts with the agricultural sector. As a result, agriculture is sometimes perceived only as a recipient of subsidies – an image we want to counter with a positive approach.

Wirtschaftsforum: Your company originally comes from Ukraine and continues to be strongly committed there. How have you experienced the last two years since the Russian invasion?

Hans Karall: Our employees in Ukraine have been continuously exposed to Russian aggression for two years. We have witnessed how they had to seek refuge in cellars and subway shafts, how critical infrastructure was destroyed locally – including a Vimeksim warehouse at a port. And despite this massive impact of war, work is repaired, rebuilt, and continued the next day – this relentless perseverance of our Ukrainian colleagues and the entire country continues to impress me deeply. Of course, we try to support them as best we can, for example by helping to ensure that Ukrainian products can continue to find their way to the world market. Moreover, we are currently setting up another bottling plant in the country, although we have to continue to hold back on larger projects, as such work could draw the attention of Russian forces.