Is a persimmon crop failure in Spain a chance for Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia?

According to EastFruit analysts, the persimmon season in Europe is just beginning, but it is already safe to say that prices for persimmons will be relatively high. To what extent the countries of our region, namely Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia, can take advantage of this, let’s try to figure it out.

So, today it is known that Spain, which is the leader in the world persimmon market, will receive less from 20 to 25% of the harvest. Moreover, this time the reason is not at all frosts, but in the rapid spread of the pest Planococcus (mealybug), which affected most of the persimmon plantations in Spain. This led to an increase in the number of treatments, and hence to an increase in costs, as well as the loss of a part of the persimmon harvest and a deterioration in its quality.

Spain annually exports about 210 thousand tons of persimmons, which corresponds to approximately one third of the global trade in this type of fruit. In the 2021/22 season, the export of persimmon from Spain may drop to 160-170 thousand tons, which means it will be the lowest in the last decade.

Interestingly, Spanish persimmons and persimmons from the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus countries practically do not overlap in the world market. In fact, we can say that these are two completely different products. Previously, these products “collided” on the Russian market, but Spain cannot supply persimmons to the Russian Federation, and re-export through countries such as Belarus has recently become more complicated. Therefore, most often these two products can be seen in the neighborhood on the Ukrainian market. Central Asia and Transcaucasia, on the other hand, export almost all persimmons to Russia and the CIS countries.

However, since Spain exports its persimmons to other EU countries, as well as to Ukraine and the Middle East, a logical question arises, does this mean that persimmons from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other countries of the region can, in part, to replace Spanish in these markets?

First of all, it should be said that persimmon production is actively growing in Georgia and rather stable in the countries of Central Asia. Georgia increases production and exports every year, and in 2020 for the first time became one of the 6 countries in the world exporting more than 10 thousand tons of persimmons of its own production. True, Georgia is still far from Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan in terms of export volume. More than 200 thousand tons of persimmons are exported annually from Azerbaijan (mainly to the Russian Federation), and almost 100 thousand tons were exported from Uzbekistan in 2020. The export volumes of Uzbek persimmons are also growing very quickly. Like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan supplies almost all of its persimmons to Russia and the countries of the former USSR. Well, it must be noted that, perhaps, most of the persimmons from Azerbaijan are re-exports, primarily of Iranian products.

In 2021, the harvest of persimmons in the Caucasus and Central Asia is delayed, but the harvest promises to be quite good. At the same time, the main problem that can affect the possibilities of export diversification is the difference in the appearance and taste of persimmons.

The Spanish persimmon, which is seedless and does not knit, is often called “Sharon” when sold. In fact, this is not entirely correct, since Sharon is a trademark of the Israeli Triumph persimmon variety. In this case, we are talking not only about the variety, but also the method of bringing it to the required condition, which has been kept secret for a long time.

However, now this method is also used for other seedless persimmon varieties grown in different countries. In order for the persimmon to acquire the desired properties, it is harvested unripe and subjected to accelerated ripening in sealed chambers with a high carbon dioxide content. It removes “viscosity”, i.e. reduces the content of tannins in persimmons. Previously, ethylene was used for this, as when ripening bananas, but this method leads to the fact that the persimmon fruits become soft, which impairs their transportability and the tannin content does not decrease so significantly.

The emergence of this method of processing persimmons with carbon dioxide made it possible to significantly increase the volume of world trade in these fruits, because persimmon does not grow everywhere. After processing persimmons with carbon dioxide, a large, beautiful and clean fruit of a crunchy persimmon without pits is obtained, with a pleasant sweet taste. Because the fruit remains quite dense and firm, it is stored for a long time without loss of quality parameters.

In Central Asia and the Transcaucasus, approaches to the cultivation and processing of persimmons are not yet as perfect as in the EU countries. Persimmons here tend to have more damage and are less easily transported. Some of the cultivated varieties have large bones, although there are also seedless varieties. Also, some of the varieties “knit”, ie. has a high content of tannins. In addition, modern approaches to ripening are also almost never applied here. Accordingly, it is much more difficult to transport and store this persimmon. And supermarkets are less willing to sell such products, since the losses when selling them are higher.

Taking into account the difference in appearance and taste parameters, as well as the higher risks of trade in persimmons from our region, it is obvious that a decrease in the harvest of persimmons in Spain will not have a significant impact on the price and export of persimmons from Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan and other countries of the region. After all, exports will be directed, as before, primarily to the Russian market, which is the largest importer of persimmon in the world.

Also, most likely, consumers of Spanish persimmon in countries such as Ukraine and Belarus will not buy persimmon from other countries, since it is really a completely different product. Another negative factor for persimmons is an excess of inexpensive apples on the Russian market.

Nevertheless, the most “advanced” exporters and producers of persimmons from our region can and should use this chance in order to find new markets for their persimmons. After all, experts expect that prices for persimmons in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will decline in the coming weeks.

But to whom the decline in the harvest of persimmons in Spain will definitely support, it is the gardeners from Israel and Italy, who will be able to raise prices for their products in the 2021/22 season.

By the way, persimmons in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are increasingly dried in the sun and sold in dried form, which also allows you to make good money. Part of the persimmon in Georgia is sold in a similar way, as we have already described in our material with photographs. In addition, against the backdrop of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, persimmon consumption is trending as The tannins in persimmon juice are believed to kill the covid-19 virus. At the end of last year, there was even an incredible jump in persimmon prices in Tajikistan against the backdrop of information spread in the media and the benefits of persimmons for fighting the virus.

In any case, the positive factors on the regional persimmon market at the moment still prevail over the negative ones. This means that the prices for persimmons are likely to be at least not lower than last year, as well as the income of the region’s gardeners.