Despite the Defense Ministry limiting contracts with food suppliers to the army from 12 to three months and lowering prices, investigators at Schemes found that food suppliers are still purchasing products at two to three times cheaper than what they sell them for to the Defense Ministry.
Journalists with Schemes, a project of Radio Svoboda, gained access to eight contracts between the Defense Ministry and private firms from December 2022 and compared the updates that were made to the contracts following the January scandal around inflated food prices.
The investigators discovered that the discrepancy in food prices created a potential profit margin between 30-70% for the army's food suppliers on multi-billion hryvnia projects.
The budget set by the Defense Ministry for purchasing food for the army was set at Hr 43 billion ($1.7 billion), Schemes journalists said.
The news outlet ZN.UA released an investigative report in January claiming that the Defense Ministry was purchasing food for soldiers at prices that were higher than usual.
The report alleged that the Defense Ministry agreed to purchase eggs at a rate of Hr 17 ($0.46) per egg, which was significantly higher than the price of eggs in grocery stores in Kyiv, where they were sold for approximately Hr 7 ($0.19) per egg.
Likewise, a kilogram of potatoes to be ordered for Ukrainian soldiers cost Hr 22 ($0.60), while the price in Kyiv grocery stores was about Hr 9 ($0.24), ZN.UA reported.
After the scandal broke, Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) stated on Jan. 23 that it had begun investigating possible corruption in the Defense Ministry’s food procurement.
Several Defense Ministry officials were dismissed from their positions following the scandal and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov pledged to reform the food procurement system.