The EastFruit team surveyed apple producers and market participants in Eastern Europe to estimate the current demand for apples. The survey results reflect only the subjective collective opinion of market participants. However, we will compare them with actual prices in order to separate the emotions of producers who always want more and market indicators reflecting the state of affairs.
Moldova is the largest exporter of apples from non-EU countries in the region, therefore special attention is always riveted to it. Producers note extremely low apple demand, so they are trying to find storage, hoping that demand will recover in the future. Also, traders are not willing to buy apples, since there is almost no demand from the part of virtually the only foreign market – Russia.
Nevertheless, traders that have their own fruit storage facilities are buying export-quality apples from producers directly from the orchards, as they often have to sell them at $0.20-2.25 per kg.
The average price of apples in Moldova is still significantly higher than in 2018. In the second half of September, prices for most apple varieties sold from the orchards even dropped to $0.10-0.15 in 2018.
EastFruit analysts draw attention to an important point that distinguishes the 2020/21 season from the 2018/19 season – the apple storage capacity in Moldova is much higher now than three years ago. It means that a record amount of apples is very likely to be stored. And even so, market participants are worrying about a lack of storage facilities!
The second difference is apple production in Russia. In three years, it has grown so much that it covers the entire volume of apple exports from Moldova. Of course, this does not mean that there is no demand for Moldovan apples in the Russian Federation, but it indicates its significant decrease.
We have already written in detail about the growing competition in the Russian apple market in the #freshapplecrisis article.
It is notable that the level of apple wholesale prices in Ukraine is now even higher than in Moldova. Nevertheless, farmers are unhappy with the prices.
Still they are far from the price level of 2018, when apples were sold at $0.12-0.18 per kg. High-quality export varieties of apples in Ukraine are now sold in bulk at approximately twice as much. Domestic and export demand for apples in Ukraine remains relatively low.
Apple exporters currently face a sharp increase in the cost of logistics and a shortage of refrigerator containers. However, they try to ship apples whenever possible, not expecting a significant increase in prices in the future.
Why are Ukrainian farmers selling apples more expensive than Moldovan farmers now? In our opinion, the reason is that Ukrainian horticulture is now more adapted to the challenges of the market, partly due to the ban on the supply of apples and other fruits to Russia which has been in force for more than five years. Thus, there are more promising and well-known apple varieties and clones and modern fruit storage facilities in Ukraine today. Almost all storage facilities of large producers are equipped with optical sorting of apples. The country produces containers necessary for the export of apples. Apples are harvested and stored focused on long-term export logistics. Furthermore, most large farms are certified with GlobalGAP and many farmers have experience in trading with the most quality and safety demanding countries.
Like in Moldova, a record volume of apples will be stored this year in Ukraine. This means that there will be pressure on apple prices throughout the season.
Poland got a high, but not a record apple harvest. Growers consider apple prices low and even try to protest local supermarket chains, blaming them for the low apple prices . The prices for Polish apples are in fact much lower than last year. However, like in other countries, they are still higher than in 2018.
Polish apple prices are now comparable to those in Ukraine. You should still remember that the country entered the new season with record apple stocks last year. And apples were sold cheaper in summer 2021 than during the harvest in 2020. This means that storage has brought losses. Therefore, Polish growers are likely to strive to sell more apples than last season.
As we already wrote, apple prices in Georgia are comparable to last year. At the same time, they decrease rather quickly.
Georgia has an advantage of the earlier start of the season, which allowed exporting a significant part of Gala apples to Russia, without the need for storage. Prices were still quite acceptable.
At the moment, the demand for apples in Russia has decreased, which has led to a decrease in prices in Georgia. Given the growth in apple orchards area in the country, even despite a poor harvest due to the periodicity of the year, the 2021 apple harvest may not be lower than last year.
The number of modern fruit storage facilities and their capacities in Georgia are also constantly growing. This means that apple sales will be higher even this year, and prices will primarily depend on the situation on the Russian market.
In the Russian Federation, wholesale apple prices are very close to the level of 2018. However, this is natural, as local apple production has grown, and storage and processing capacities have expanded greatly since that time. Nevertheless, market participants unanimously speak about low apple demand.
It would seem that the low retail price should stimulate consumption, but supermarket chains have not yet seen a sharp increase in apple sales. They hope that demand will rebound as the range of apples on the shelves expands and the temperature drops further, which will reduce the supply of watermelon and other seasonal fruits in the market. However, the general trend of domestic demand for apples in Russia obviously remains negative despite the growth of domestic production.
If we compare apple prices in Russia and other countries of the region, farmers from Ukraine, Moldova and Poland can only dream of such a price level. Russian farmers now earn on average two to three times more than their colleagues from other countries. However, according to analysts, there is a potential for a further decrease in apple prices in Russia, and the efficiency of their cultivation is lower. Accordingly, the cost of growing apples in the Russian Federation will be higher than in other countries of the region.
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