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Early onions, potatoes, and carrots – market overview for Ukraine and the EastFruit region

FAO International Consultant and EastFruit expert Fedir Rybalko shares insights about the market situation of early vegetables and potatoes in the EastFruit region.

“The highest wholesale prices for onions are currently noted in Ukraine. Azerbaijan is the main supplier to Ukraine at the moment. The quality of Azerbaijani onions can be considered not the highest, but quite satisfactory, considering high prices for other alternatives. Therefore, wholesale companies are forced to buy onions from Azerbaijan, which, primarily due to cheaper logistics, is the most competitive in terms of price on the market of Ukraine”.

The expert also notes that Turkey still has an export ban on onions in place, which makes it impossible to deliver these vegetables to Ukraine. Markets expected that the ban would be lifted but it has not yet materialized. At the same time, Uzbekistan is actively exporting new onions to Poland, EastFruit informs. However, according to Fedir Rybalko, in two weeks local onions will begin to arrive on the Polish market, which will lead to a significant decrease in imports from Egypt and Uzbekistan. It should be noted that in Ukraine, local onions have already begun to enter the market, which led to a decrease in prices, but in Egypt, the high exports of onions led to serious dissatisfaction of consumers as prices are high.

Prices for new crop onions in countries where they are already dominate the market are at very different levels, as you can see in the graph below: in Tajikistan, onions sells at 18 cents per kg in wholesale, and in Ukraine it is almost 7 times more expensive!

The early potato market, due to the occupation of the Kherson region and the cold spring in Ukraine, remains quite tense. Another factor influencing this market are the high stocks of 2022 onions in the potato storages of Ukrainian companies. However, these stocks are running out, so the demand for early production is growing rapidly.

“Recently, wholesale prices for early potatoes in Ukraine have remained high, with a slight downward trend. It is now actively harvested in the southern regions of the country. Egyptian potatoes could not compete with early potatoes from Azerbaijan, Greece, and North Macedonia. This week, mass harvesting of early potatoes in the southern regions of Ukraine begins, which, within 10 days can lead to a complete halt in imports. At the same time, in Azerbaijan, the harvest is already coming to an end, and farm-gate prices have dropped down to $0.20 per kg, which, given high inflation, does not allow producers to cover their growing costs,” says Fedir Rybalko.

As you can see in the chart below, early potato prices are indeed high in Eastern Europe, but significantly lower in Georgia. In Central Asia, prices are even lower, but high logistics costs and high domestic demand discourage large-scale exports.

“There is currently a shortage of high-quality carrots from last year crop in the region, which stimulates the demand for early carrots. The highest price for early carrots is noted in Ukraine. The best offers of early carrots are currently coming from Azerbaijan, but the high price level allows importing early carrots to Ukraine also from Egypt and Uzbekistan. There is still at least a month before the new harvest in Ukraine, so exporters from Azerbaijan will be able to significantly increase their export volumes in the next few weeks,” Fedir Rybalko believes.

As you can see, in terms of carrot prices, the price gap remains very large between the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. And here the highest prices are again indeed in Ukraine.

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