Moldova: in anticipation of high prices for stone fruits
Moldova: in anticipation of high prices for stone fruits
Predicted crop losses vary very significantly – depending on the region, stone fruit species, their varieties
Moldova is a relatively small producer of stone fruit. In the past few years, the country receives about 150-160 thousand tons of this product, including more than 100 thousand tons – this is plum (60-65% of its harvest falls on the fruits of the Stanley variety). This year, in the Republic of Moldova, two or three “waves of frosts” have severely affected apricot plantations, peaches and cherries to an average degree, plums of medium and late ripe varieties, as well as cherries to a lesser extent. Moreover, due to the possible return of labor migrants from Moldova to the European Union and Russia, as well as epidemiological restrictions within the country, the labor force in the country’s agricultural sector will still be scarce and relatively expensive – all this will surely transform into additional difficulties during the harvesting campaign. As a result, the marketable volume of stone fruits of the 2020 crop in Moldova will be relatively small, and the cost of production will be quite high. At the same time, the markets for stone fruit from Moldova and the demand for them, as Moldovan gardeners hope, will not decrease too much. Accordingly, there is still hope for high prices, at least for stone fruits of certain types and quality categories. This was the leitmotif of the speakers’ speeches from Moldova at the International online conference “Stone fruits and covid19: impact on prices, production and trade”, held on April 15, 2020.
The conference was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with the support of the Ukrainian Fruit and Vegetable Association (UPOA), the Federation of Agricultural Producers of Moldova FARM and the agro-media agency Sapienza.
As Andrey Zbanke, an expert of the FARM Federation, noted during the conference, in the territory of the Republic of Moldova this spring, frosts were not widespread and varied significantly in intensity. Accordingly, the predicted yield losses vary very significantly – depending on the region, the stone fruit species, their variety. Currently, the central and local authorities, together with the emergency commission, are trying to assess the extent of damage and possible measures to support farmers. Nevertheless, it is now clear that, in particular, in the plum segment of the country’s fruit production, frost slightly “hooked” the early plum plantations (“Serbian” varieties – “Chachak” and others), to a lesser extent – the main universal variety “Stanley” », The main assortment position in the structure of export of stone fruits from Moldova.
In this regard, the economist of the investment department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Andrei Yarmak noted that in the CIS countries, especially in the Russian Federation, mid- and late ripe plums from Moldova and early plums from Uzbekistan in this specific season have good market chances.
It is worth recalling that in 2019 Moldova exported almost 41 thousand tons to the CIS countries (almost 37 thousand tons in the Russian Federation) and about 19 thousand tons of plum to the European Union. Over the past five years, external deliveries (in all directions) of discharge from the Republic of Moldova, even in the years with the most severe weather conditions, did not fall below 40 thousand tons.
See also: In the Zaporozhye region of Ukraine, frost completely destroyed the future harvest of early cherries – Evgenia Nikityuk
At the same time, it will be worth mentioning once again that for 2020 the quota for duty-free supplies to the European Union for plums from Moldova has been increased to 15 thousand tons (and the first preferential euro quota for deliveries of Moldavian cherries has been introduced – 1.5 thousand tons). During the online conference, the Moldovan speaker expressed hope that, firstly, a positive image will start working on the market positions of Moldovan plums in the EU, which has developed during the last three years, and secondly, that the mass market will remain on the European market consumer demand for plums, the most affordable stone fruit.
An important, if not the most important question in this context is whether consumers and network retailers will be inclined to compromises, namely, whether they are ready to reduce requests / requirements for the quality of fruits in the realities of the current (potential – this fall) quarantine restrictions and production reduction. According to Andrei Yarmak, in terms of fruits – food products are not the most urgent need – the consumer would rather agree to increase prices and reduce the number of purchased products than sacrifice their usual (read – high) quality.
However, in this sense “new factors” are possible. For example, the authorities of some countries of Eastern Europe seriously analyze the options for administrative regulation (read – containment) of food prices. For example, in the Republic of Moldova, there have been repeated calls in the information field to limit the retail margin in retail for basic foods, in particular borsch set vegetables. From the fruit assortment to the anti-crisis range of “socially significant products”, if desired, plum and apples can be supplied. Obviously, in this scenario – unlikely, but not surrealistic – supermarkets, at least in Moldova, would be willing to lower product quality standards in order to save on prices of products purchased from farmers. And consumers will have to accept this (and simultaneously agree with a decrease in the variety of fruit assortment). Moreover, it is not known for certain whether wholesale and retail retail bazaar markets will be opened in the fall, when skeptics predict a “second wave of the epidemic”.
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