World market of fresh and frozen strawberry garden – status, prospects and prices
World market of fresh and frozen strawberry garden – status, prospects and prices
Experts say what is happening on the market today and how it can affect prices and sales of fresh and frozen garden strawberries in the remaining months of 2020
The berry season in the Southern Hemisphere is almost over, and in the Northern Hemisphere, it can be said, is already in full swing. Even the coolest countries began to harvest garden strawberries, though mostly greenhouse ones. In the southern regions, the strawberry season has already exceeded the “equator” or is ending. In particular, in Spain, they are already starting to harvest blueberries, while harvesting of early varieties of raspberries, red currants and other crops begins.
Given the enormous changes in the structure of the berry market, EastFruit specialists, together with analysts from the Ukrainian Fruit and Vegetable Association (UPOA) and APK-Inform: vegetables and fruits, assessed the situation in the berry business of different countries of the world, as well as in Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Georgia and countries Central Asia. What is happening on the market today and how can it affect prices and sales of fresh and frozen garden strawberries in the remaining months of 2020? Read the answers to these questions in this material.
First of all, it is worth saying that it is extremely difficult to predict anything in such an unpredictable situation. After all, different countries respond differently to the coronavirus pandemic and are at different stages of the spread of the virus in the country. Countries also have incomparable resources to support farmers and consumers – the United States can afford to spend billions of dollars to buy products from farmers and distribute to those who have lost their jobs, but even there some sectors of agribusiness suffered a real disaster. Logistics for fresh berries is complicated as much as possible, and has become very expensive. The sharp reduction in air travel made deliveries of fresh berries to many regions almost impossible. And consumers have already become much poorer, and every day they are becoming poorer.
By the way, earlier we held the First International Conference “Berries and covid19”, which can be viewed on our YouTube channel. Here you can learn first-hand about the situation in the berry market of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as a general view of the world market.
Middle East and Turkey
Egypt – The largest exporter of frozen strawberry garden in the world since 2019. A sharp increase in exports to 140 thousand tons was a shock to the entire market, and the remnants of the Egyptian berries are still offered in Europe. Obviously, the profitability of the business due to production growth has fallen dramatically, so this year, the strawberry crop in Egypt has declined.
Egypt exports fresh strawberries year-round, but the peak of exports falls in November – March. Confirmation of the decrease in the area under wild strawberries in Egypt was a sharp decrease in the volume of exports of fresh strawberries in December and January – more than two times compared to last year.
Egypt exports a little less strawberries than Turkey and significantly less than frozen ones. However, unlike Turkey, Egypt focuses on the supply of fresh berries to the EU. The season for Egypt as a whole was quite successful.
Morocco – Another major exporter of berries from the Middle East region. Specialization is also a frozen berry, and the main competitor, of course, is Egypt. Until 2019, Morocco exported more frozen berries than Egypt. In 2019, exports from Morocco also reached a record, but it also reduced the incomes of berry producers, which led to a reduction in strawberry production in 2020. As a result, export of fresh strawberries from Morocco this season decreased by 40%. Prices were reasonable, and the production of frozen berries, according to preliminary estimates, also fell significantly.
Turkey It provides the bulk of fresh strawberries that Russia imports, and Turkish strawberry business is largely dependent on the situation on the Russian market. And although the frost did not hurt Turkey, problems with the organization of logistics have already affected the first export deliveries quite negatively. In March, when the first large consignments of Turkish wild strawberries were exported, the country reduced export volumes by more than three times. However, the peak month of Turkish exports is April. According to preliminary estimates, it also turned out to be a failure. Therefore, it is obvious that freezing will receive more raw materials.
Turkey exports about 16 thousand tons of frozen strawberries, and the main buyers are Germany, the USA, Canada and the UK. Therefore, it is possible that this year Turkey will be more aggressive in the export market for frozen berries.
See also: Sweet cherry – analysis of the prospects for the season, taking into account the situation in the EU, Russia and Central Asia
Moldova is the largest exporter of fresh strawberry garden from Eastern Europe. However, part of the berries exported from Moldova, according to market participants, is re-export from the EU and Ukraine. This year in Moldova there will be no problems with labor, and the damage from frosts was not very significant. However, he is. Therefore, most likely, the supply of berries will be only slightly less than the average long-term indicators, but official export indicators will decrease, because fewer berries will be re-exported, given the realities of demand in the main market.
Ukraine In recent years, it has steadily increased the export of frozen strawberry garden. But with the export of fresh, difficulties constantly arose due to the possibility of re-exporting the berry to Russia. Ukrainian berry producers could not find alternative markets. In 2020, exports of frozen strawberries may even increase. Indeed, even now, many have leftovers over the past year. In addition, it is possible that part of the berries grown for the fresh market will be frozen due to falling demand. Not the least role will be played by the constant expansion of freezing capacities in the country. True, the prices of frozen berries may disappoint exporters, given the trends in demand for it in the EU countries. Whether the decline in demand will be more significant than the decline in production due to shortages of workers and frosts – this question remains open. However, most market participants suggest that demand may fall more.
Serbia also increasing exports of fresh and frozen strawberry garden in recent years. The same season for Serbia is still very difficult. Plantations were affected by frosts, the yield is expected to be smaller, and the first berry is sold with a scratch due to quarantine, difficulties in logistics and trade. In addition, a concern in the berry is the situation in Russia, where the coronavirus is only gaining momentum. Since Russia is an almost exclusive market for strawberries from Serbia, problems with demand are not ruled out.
Russia is the fourth largest importer of fresh strawberry garden in Europe after Germany, France and the UK. The volume of imports ranges from 45-50 thousand tons per year. The main suppliers are Turkey and Serbia. Most likely, taking into account re-export, the supply of strawberries from Poland to Russia is comparable to supplies from Serbia or even higher.
Note that Russia also actively develops its own production of wild strawberries, which puts pressure on prices from the end of May to the end of June. This year, given the devaluation of the ruble and the sharp decline in incomes of the country’s population, a decrease in demand for fresh strawberry garden in Russia is expected. With a simultaneous increase in the supply of its products, imports from mid-May may be under strong price pressure. With an increase in logistics costs, this can adversely affect the profitability of supplies. Suppliers of strawberries from Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and Serbia will mainly suffer.
The European Union
Spain – ends the strawberry season on a minor note. In a country that annually exports up to 300 thousand tons of fresh strawberries and is a world leader in exporting these berries by a wide margin from everyone else, farmers are forced to refuse to harvest strawberries or even destroy plantations. Almost all suffered losses and there are fears that next year the production of berries in this country may drop sharply.
Poor weather conditions negatively affected strawberry yields, and a shortage of workers led to an increase in harvesting costs. However, this is the smallest problem for Spanish farmers this year. Much worse is the lack of a proper level of demand for berries, both domestically and in key importing countries: Germany, France, the UK and Italy. It just so happened that the bulk of the Spanish strawberries were sold to these countries, but all these countries were stronger than others and suffered from the coronavirus.
Spain also exports about 40 thousand tons of frozen strawberry garden. Here, probably, we should also expect a decrease for the same reason – shortage of workers. The Spaniards are unlikely to send excess berries to the fresh market for freezing, as other varieties are grown for freezing.
Given the need to start harvesting blueberries in the coming days, which has high expectations, many growers decided to usually end the harvesting season earlier.
Italy gradually comes to life after the shocking attack of a coronavirus on a country that claimed tens of thousands of lives in just a couple of months. At the first stage of quarantine, Italians made panic purchases, and there was no place in the basket of garden strawberries – preference was given to citrus fruits, apples and other products that can be stored for at least a week at home. Together with labor problems, this led to huge losses for garden strawberry producers from the southern regions of the country where the season began. Berry prices were very low, and demand was minimal. Some strawberries were simply not harvested.
Now the situation is improving and changing so quickly that the market is already beginning to feel a shortage of berries, and prices have risen significantly. True, harvesting has now advanced far to the north of Italy, where the demand for berries has also grown. Nevertheless, labor problems continue to be the main problem of the industry, since it is now very difficult to attract seasonal workers from other countries. Well, Italy is not a major player in the freezing market – up to 2 thousand tons of exports per year and relatively low domestic consumption.
France also struggles with coronavirus, but here the prices for berries are high enough and demand remains high too. The local strawberry garden is sold more expensively, but better than imports, which makes local farmers feel better than their counterparts from Spain. France is also an exporter of strawberries, but the export season is expected a bit later, when the berries of open ground will be picked in the northern regions of the country. Perhaps by this time the situation with logistics will improve.
The segment of freezing strawberry garden for France is also very important – the country is the third largest world importer of this frozen berry, buying more than 60 thousand tons per year. Own production is also present and is a fairly significant segment. True, the country is expected to reduce demand for frozen strawberries this year and reduce imports due to problems with HoReCa segments.
Greece due to the introduction of curfews, I encountered difficulties in harvesting garden strawberries, as workers could not get to work on time and back. In addition, the main early berry season was partially tainted by bad weather conditions. Nevertheless, now the situation is improving. Greece, by the way, is the largest exporter of fresh garden strawberries in Europe after Spain, stably supplying to other countries annually about 45 thousand tons of this berry.
Netherlands and Belgium – Large exporters and re-exporters of garden strawberries, both fresh and frozen. The season so far is quite tolerable for manufacturers from these countries. Problems with logistics and labor in Spain allowed producers to sell their berries at a price comparable to last year.
Poland usually focuses on freezing strawberries, but this country exports a lot of fresh berries – about 6-8 thousand tons per year. In 2014, export of fresh strawberries from Poland even reached 20 thousand tons, but the complication of re-export of strawberries through Belarus to Russia and increased labor costs hit the export of fresh berries. At the same time, the country was for many years in a row the world leader in the export of frozen strawberries, only in 2019 losing to Egypt. In any case, about 100 thousand tons of frozen strawberry export per year is a huge amount.
In 2020, in Poland, the potential for harvesting garden strawberries decreased due to spring frosts. In addition, most likely, the country will not have enough workers for harvesting, so the supply of strawberries may decrease by at least 30-35%. Reducing the supply of berries from Poland is the main hope for exporters of frozen strawberries from other countries.
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have excellent conditions for growing and exporting wild strawberries even year-round. Moreover, berries are already grown in these countries all year round, but the export business is still very poorly developed, due to unworked logistics and the completion of the berry.
In April 2020, prices for fresh strawberries from farms in Tajikistan fell to 55-70 US cents per kg, and in Uzbekistan – $ 1.2 per kg and this price did not shock anyone. Therefore, it is even more surprising that shock freezing is practically not developed here, because this region could successfully compete with Egypt, Morocco and China in the frozen berry market.
China is a major exporter of frozen strawberry horticultural, however, annual exports of berries from this country are declining. In 2019, exports fell to 48.5 thousand tons, although back in 2016 it reached 90 thousand tons.
In 2020, exports continued to decline, both due to long-term trends and due to quarantine in January-February. In the first quarter, China exported 25% less frozen garden strawberries than a year earlier and the smallest export volume in many years.
We will not discuss America and Southeast Asia here as regions that do not have much direct influence on the strawberry markets of our region.
Both production and demand for strawberry in 2020 will sharply decrease in the world. There are many imbalances on the market now, in which in some countries prices are too high, and in others, on the contrary, too low. The increase in the cost of logistics and its complication has reduced effective international trade, which leads to similar situations.
But the frozen berry market will be a little more stable and balanced, however, there will be a sharp decline in both supply and demand. Nevertheless, according to our very preliminary estimates, demand may still decrease less than supply, especially if in the second half of the year the work of the HoReCa segment in key consumer countries is launched. In this case, by the end of 2020, one can even expect a certain increase in prices for frozen garden strawberries. However, any forecasts will now have a very high error.
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