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Blueberries season in Ukraine could start later this year – pros and cons

Most Ukrainian blueberries producers consider the possibility of a shift in the harvest in 2021 due to the cold spring. According to the estimates of producers interviewed by the EastFruit project, the harvesting of blueberries in Ukraine will start 10-14 days later this year than the year before.. However, some farmers believe that under certain conditions there is still time to compensate the slow development of the plant in the spring.

It should be taken into account that there was no early harvest of blueberries in 2020. Moreover, the harvest of early blueberry varieties, as well as many other crops, was almost completely lost, while middle and late blueberry varieties matured later than in 2019. I should also be noted that spring frosts ca-n still take place this year.

“The shift in the berry season, in particular the 10-14 days lag comparing to last year, can only have a positive effect on the future harvest, as there are additional chances to avoid maximum damage from the impact of possible frosts in May 2021,” Yevgenia Nikityuk, representative of LLC “Aurora”, Zaporizhzhia region., Ukraine, says.

Despite the rather cool first half of spring 2021, not all berry producers in Ukraine are 100% sure that the season shifts. “One of the decisive months of the upcoming blueberry season in Ukraine will be June, when higher air temperatures, balanced precipitation and sufficient sunny days will be able to compensate for the lag in the plant development. Accordingly, the ripening dates for blueberries may well reach the same dates as in the previous year,” Fedir Prima from Eco-Park agricultural company, Chernihiv region, Ukraine, says.

If there is a delay in the start of the blueberry harvest, it is necessary to take into account possible changes in the consumption, and, accordingly, prices.

Possible change in blueberry prices in 2021, subject to a shift in the upcoming season.

The shift in the main blueberry harvest season comparing to 2019 took place last year. We will analyze how a possible further shift in the production season in 2021 could affect prices.

As can be observed from the chart presented above, despite the shift of the main season of blueberry production in Ukraine, there were no dramatic price jumps for berries over the past 2 years, both at the beginning and at the end of the season. But the decrease in the blueberries supply in the Ukrainian domestic market in 2020 compared to the previous season affected prices in this segment throughout the entire sales season.

It is also possible that a later start of the blueberry sales season may even work for producers’ benefit in terms of price for berries on the domestic market, at least for early varieties. After all, the season of mass sales of other seasonal local berries, such as cherries and strawberries, ends by the beginning of July, as a rule. However, let’s not forget about the negative influence of the unfavorable winter conditions on late varieties of blueberries, which we covered in ” Duke Almighty “, if the growing season for blueberries is even shorter this year.

Will the shift in the start of the blueberry season in Ukraine open up new opportunities in international trade?

Traditionally, blueberries are imported to Ukraine from Peru and Chile since the beginning of the year. Morocco joins the list of importers by March. According to the project “APK-Inform: Vegetables and Fruits” , the peak of imports from the latter falls in spring. Blueberry suppliers from Spain are also active in spring. The largest number of importing countries is observed in May-June, when in addition to local blueberries, there are blueberries from Spain, Morocco, Poland and Portugal.

If we assume that the main blueberries season would begin earlier in Ukraine, part of the imported supplies, which are not large today, could be replaced with our own berries. However since the average wholesale prices of blueberries imported to Ukraine in May-June are at a rather low level – $ 2.5-4.5/kg, it is possible that a late beginning of the season would be an advantage for the Ukrainian farmers, who are used to sell blueberries at a much higher price.

Ukraine has increased blueberry exports almost six times over the past five years, gaining a foothold in the markets of Belarus, EU countries and for the first time trying to enter the markets of the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

If we compare the data for the last few years, insignificant volumes of blueberries from Ukraine were exported in May-June at $ 5.5-6.1/kg, while the prices on the domestic market were even higher, and the quality requirements were lower. However, the export prices for blueberries increased as the season of blueberries from Spain was coming to an end. Moreover, as a rule, even in the Middle East, imports of Ukrainian blueberries become active only in the second half of July, when prices begin to rise there.

The issues of domestic and international trade in blueberries in Ukraine will be discussed in more detail at the next conference of the APK-Inform: Vegetables and Fruits project – FtradeClub Berries , which has been postponed from April to the second half of May 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The dates have not yet been determined, but the format remains traditional and is even expanded, and B2B negotiations of suppliers of fresh and frozen berries with buyers of Ukrainian supermarket chains and practical business tour are added to agenda.

“Having analyzed the above information, we conclude that a possible shift in the harvest season of berries in Ukraine will not have a negative impact at all, both on production volumes and on prices in this market segment. Moreover, it may even bring certain benefits for farmers,” Olexander Khorev, head of the APK-Inform: Vegetables and Fruits project comments.

Experts of the East-Fruit project also note that the shift in the harvest season of blueberries in Ukraine is more positive for the international trade, given the price trends. On the other hand, we should not forget about the possible increase in the supply of blueberries in the European market this year, which may reduce prices throughout the region, as well as the likely increase in supply in Ukraine. Therefore, blueberry prices will also depend on whether the producers will manage to encourage Ukrainian consumers to buy more blueberries.

EastFruit

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