Georgian growers started the exports blueberries last week, prices at the beginning of the season high and comparable to the 2021 season. Although, labor costs have increased.
Blueberry exportw started with high prices as demand exceeds supply at this point. Exporters are paying growers from $5 to $7 USD/kg, depending on the quality. Quality is measured by the size, softness, and appearance of berries. Usually, exporters visit the field to check the quality themselves. Frequently, blueberries are sold directly from the fields without precooling and storing the harvest by the farmers.
Ministry of Finance of Georgia, EastFruit
According to official trade data, in 2021 the average export price of Georgian blueberry in June was $6.3 US dollars but dropped to $5 US dollars in July. Growers expect the same scenario this season. In July prices will be much lower as supply will reach its peak.
Most of the harvest is sold to exporters to Russia, although some of the growers plan to export to Middle East countries, including UAE and Qatar, by air and even by land.
In a conversation with EastFruit co-founder of Blue Bird, Baia Salukvadze commented that they already have supply agreements with the buyers from UAE but have not started buying blueberries yet, as prices are high now.
Another grower and exporter Green Valley expect to harvest 60 tonnes of blueberries this season. Except for the russian market, the company plans to export to UAE by land. The spokesman of the company Zura Tsereteli said, that shipping blueberries from Georgia to UAE will take 8-10 days.
This season price of labor has increased for growers. Usually, pickers are paid per kilogram of collected berries. Last season harvesting one kg of blueberries cost growers 0.65-1.1 GEL ($0.2-$0.35) , but this season’s minimum price is 1 GEL ($0.34). According to growers, finding people to harvest berries is problematic and the problem will become even more severe during the season considering that number of new blueberry orchards are growing in Georgia. According to the official data in 2021 government program “Plant the Future” financed the planting of 707 ha of blueberry orchards.
Source: Ministry of Finance of Georgia
Exports of Georgian blueberries exploded in 2020. In 2020 Georgia more than doubled blueberry exports compared to 2019, by exporting 661 tons. In 2021 exports reached new heights, more than 1000 tons. Growers expect this trend to continue in the 2022 season.
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