The head of leading Ukrainian food producer MHP has said that the failure of its operations would have a “catastrophic” impact on the country’s population, BBC News reported on 14 March.

London-listed poultry company MHP has more than 30,000 employees in Ukraine, according to the report, and is a big supplier to the country. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started on 24 February, the firm has been involved in the humanitarian effort delivering food to isolated communities.

MHP chairman Dr John Rich, who has been running the company from its offices in Slovenia, said its survival was critical to the country.

Failing in its production or distribution operations would have an “enormous humanitarian effect” in Ukraine as MHP is the only remaining company in this area of food supply, according to Dr Rich.

“A lot of our competitors, particularly in the east of the country, have ceased to exist,” he explained.

In addition to its poultry operations, MHP has a major presence in the country's agriculture sector, growing wheat and grain on thousands of hectares of land. The firm is also a big exporter of sunflower oil, though the company's exports stopped following the invasion.

Meanwhile, in response to western sanctions against it, Russia has imposed export bans on more than 200 products until the end of the year, the BBC reported.

The ban covers exports of telecoms, medical, vehicle, agricultural and electrical equipment, as well as some forestry products such as timber, according to the 11 March report.

The economy ministry said the measures were a “logical response to those imposed on Russia” adding that further measures could include restricting foreign ships from Russian ports.

Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said the ban would include exports of goods made by foreign companies operating in Russia, including cars, railway carriages and containers.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western governments had imposed a string of sanctions on Russia, notably on buying oil, and against billionaire oligarchs believed to be close to President Vladimir Putin, the report said.