Export demand for Georgian apple is high, but gardeners’ demands for prices are even higher


Export demand for Georgian apple is high, but gardeners’ demands for prices are even higher

09/30/2020

Apple, which is stored in basements and unequipped premises, must be on the market by December, otherwise it will lose marketability

In the 2018/19 season, Georgia, unexpectedly for many, became a net exporter of apples. True, already in the next season, as reported by EastFruit, the status could not be retained. However, a good apple harvest is expected in Georgia in 2020, and world prices for this type of fruit are at an unusually high level, which indicates good prospects for returning the status of a net exporter.

As the owner of the Tirifonis Bagebi orchards in the Gori municipality (Shida Kartli region, Eastern Georgia) Zurab Gojiashvili told EastFruit, the rich apple harvest this year has already attracted exporters, while in 2019, a lean year, there were very few requests for apple export. However, despite the large number of requests for apple export, the implementation is not very active yet, as the price expectations of producers and traders do not coincide at 0.30-0.40 GEL / kg (9-12 US cents). Therefore, those gardeners who have the opportunity to lay an apple for storage are in no hurry to sell, as they expect better prices. The company “Tirifonis Bagebi” is still selling fresh apples in a well-established way – through small wholesalers who sell fruits on the domestic market or supply them to large retail chains.

Traditionally, an apple stored in cellars and unequipped premises will have to reach the market by December, otherwise it will lose marketability. At the same time, a high-quality apple in a modern refrigerator will be able to “wait for the price” until March, and in refrigerators with RGS the apple can be stored without significant quality losses until June and even until the new harvest, provided that it is properly grown, removed from storage …

Read also: Top 7 events that influenced Georgia’s produce business over the past 10 years (part 2, video)

According to the Ministry of Environment Protection and Agriculture, the total storage capacity for vegetables and fruits in Georgia today is 41 785 tons, 25% of which are located in the Shida Kartli region, 19% in Samtsk-Javakheti (mainly for vegetables) , 18% – in Mtskheta, 16% – in Kakheti, 15% – in Kvemo Kartli, and the remaining 7% – in the west of the country (Imereti, Guria and Samegrelo).

Professional apple producers note that apart from selling to intermediaries in the Russian Federation, the export of fresh apples from Georgia to other countries, unfortunately, is practically impossible. “In addition to the required volume of homogeneous high-quality products, equipment for sorting, packaging, it is also necessary to invest in marketing, which is $ 50-70 thousand per year. So far, there are few producers in Georgia who can afford it, ”- Ilya Mishchenko, owner of the GU Fruit company, who grows apples in the Bolnisi municipality (South-Eastern Georgia).

Tirifonis Bagebi appears to be heading in the right direction. This season, for the first time, the company will use an automatic line for sorting apples, and is already completing the construction of a storage with a capacity of up to 700 tons, which the company expects to fill with apples from its own garden. This year “Tirifonis Bagebi”, according to its own estimates, plans to harvest up to 1,000 tons of apples.

As part of the Plant the Future program, 1,128 hectares of intensive apple orchards have been laid since 2014. The projected yield of young apple orchards this year will be more than 10,000 tons. The harvest is expected to double in 2021 to 20,000 tonnes. The state, through various targeted programs, supports the renovation and planting of perennial gardens according to modern standards, although the number of non-standard crops in Georgia is still high. Therefore, the state decided to subsidize the processing of non-standard apples.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, harvesting of non-standard apples is in full swing, more than 4,500 tons of raw materials have already been processed. And within the framework of the subsidizing program for non-standard apples, farmers have already been allocated up to 1 million lari (about $ 300 thousand).

Ilya Mishchenko from GU Fruit believes that in the right intensive orchard, the percentage of apples for processing will be minimal, so there is no acute need for such support among gardeners who grow high-quality apples. According to the manufacturer, even apples from a modern garden that have fallen from a tree are in good demand in the fresh market, since the quality of such an apple remains good by local standards. From the garden, such apples are sold for 0.50-0.70 lari / kg (15-21 US cents per kg). Therefore, the impact of the subsidy on the fresh quality apple market will be minimal, since the processing and the fresh apple segment do not overlap.

As of September 24, 1,054 tons of apples were exported from Georgia, which is 832 tons more than last year on the same date. Of these, 990.5 tons were supplied to the Russian market, 59.9 tons – to Kazakhstan and 3.6 tons – to Armenia.

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