A wide range of vegetables, fruits and berries is no longer relevant – how the coronacrisis affects the fruit and vegetable trade


A wide range of vegetables, fruits and berries is no longer relevant – how the coronacrisis affects the fruit and vegetable trade

04/28/2020

Closing markets and, as a result, restricting competition also led to higher prices for the most “running” positions

EastFruit analysts, conducting regular audits of fruit and vegetable trade in supermarkets in several countries in the region, report a decrease in the average assortment of fruits and vegetables in retail. Retail representatives explain this by a change in consumer preferences, which are due to a change in the regime and format of trade and a decrease in household incomes.

“We see that people buy more products at a time, trying to minimize the number of trips to the store. At the same time, the basket does not always have a place for a wide range of fruits and vegetables, although most consumers are now preoccupied with their immunity, ”says Andrei Yarmak, economist at the Investment Department of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“In almost all countries where our project monitors: Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Georgia and Russia, we see a decrease in the average assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables and a rejection of optional assortment items that are not anchor or key, and are sold very slowly . As a rule, these are not cheap or even expensive positions, mainly imported ones, ”notes Andrei Yarmak.

Many import positions of fruits and vegetables during the coronavirus period have soared in value. If you do not take into account ginger and lemon, which we have already written about several times, and which have risen in price, mainly due to the boom in demand in an attempt to raise immunity, the price increase was also due to the devaluation of national currencies and an increase in logistics costs. The closure of markets and, as a consequence, the restriction of competition, also led to higher prices for the most “running” positions. Such positions include citrus fruits (orange, mandarin, grapefruit, lemon), as well as an apple, which, in this case, in most countries remained the most affordable fruit for the population at a price.

See also: UPAA supports plans to open markets in Ukraine

But such a position as a berry is losing shelf space. In Russia and Ukraine, many supermarket chains began to abandon imported blueberries, which in recent years have become very popular among wealthy consumers. Garden greenhouse strawberries appear on the shelves of classic supermarkets and expensive chains, but they are practically nowhere to be found in discounters and inexpensive stores, despite the start of the harvesting season. Demand for it, according to representatives of supermarket chains, has decreased markedly – the berry for consumers is too expensive. Now many networks are not yet sure that they will buy berries such as honeysuckle and red currants, and possibly reduce purchases of blackberries.

You can learn more about the prospects of the berry market from the speeches of speakers of the online conference “Berries and covid-19”, the video recording of which is available here.

Growth in demand from supermarkets is also expected for an inexpensive round and transportable tomato, which is well stored at home. In recent years, such a tomato was purchased mainly by discounters. At the same time, according to market participants, the volume of purchases of niche and expensive items of seasonal and greenhouse vegetables will decrease.

As for borscht vegetables, the networks are expecting sales booms and are now actively looking for system suppliers for these positions. Moreover, they note an increase in demand for products in packaging that is more expensive. However, consumers clearly prefer economy-class packaging, and it is planned to focus on it.

As for stone fruit crops, the opinions of supermarket chains on this subject were divided. In Ukraine and Moldova, supermarket chains indicate the likelihood of high prices for cherries and apricots due to freezing, and plan to reduce the volume of purchases of products. But in the countries of Central Asia and Georgia, on the contrary, the expansion of retail space under this popular category of fruit, which is usually sold at a relatively affordable price, is not ruled out.

Nuts sales have already declined significantly, and demand is expected to remain very low in the future, as walnuts remain relatively expensive and not a mandatory product from the consumer’s point of view. A similar situation is with dried fruits – the demand for them has already decreased, and a further decrease is quite possible.

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