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Floods in Serbia could change the global raspberry market prospects

EastFruit analysts are closely monitoring the situation in Serbia, where heavy rains have led to floods. The natural disaster is observed in a large number of regions of the country, including the region of compact cultivation and processing of raspberries. It could have a very serious impact on global frozen raspberry market where Serbia is a clear leader.

“Serbia has been the world’s largest exporter of frozen raspberries for many years, exporting annually from 120 to 140 thousand tons of frozen raspberries. Accordingly, Serbia that has the greatest influence on the world market in this category, and the situation in Serbia can have a key impact on the raspberry prices in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, and other countries,” says Andriy Yarmak, economist at the Investment Department of the Food and Agriculture UN situation (FAO).

For Ukraine, frozen raspberries are now the main export category in the horticultural segment, and raspberry harvest in the country is just beginning. A little earlier, raspberry harvesting began in Moldova and Georgia. A market overview with prices for raspberries, strawberries, and other raw materials for freezing in Moldova was published today.

The raspberry harvesting season in Serbia begins much earlier than in Ukraine. Harvesting has now begun to peak, although berry prices have remained at an extremely low level, which caused protests from local producers. After all, initially, the freezers did not want to pay more than $1.9 per kg for raspberries, and over the past couple of years, local farmers have become accustomed to prices close to $3.5/kg or more.

However, the freezers can’t be blamed – they still have huge stocks of raspberries from the 2022 harvest in their warehouses, which they could not sell even at great losses. We described this situation in detail in the article “Frozen raspberry market before the start of the season: prices, demand, market forecasts for 2023”.

Before the recent rains, there were reports in the specialized publications that the prices for raspberries in Serbia had slightly strengthened against the backdrop of farmers’ protests, but remained extremely low. However, there was a noticeable decrease in the volume of purchases by freezers, but the farmers simply had no alternatives – after all, it is impossible to store raspberries, just as it is impossible to sell such volumes of raspberries at the fresh market.

According to our investigations, these publications did not reflect the realities, and there was no real price increase. Moreover, according to our information, the lower limit of the purchase price for raspberries has dropped to $1.4 per kg, which forced the Serbian government to hold a number of emergency meetings with growers and freezers.

However, the government refused to interfere in the market, preferring market mechanisms, such as prolongation and restructuring of loans. After all, not only farmers, but also freezers found themselves in a difficult situation.

During the period of heavy rains and floods, the problems of the raspberry market naturally faded into the background. But they didn’t disappear. Now that the weather is improving, farmers are trying to assess the damage to the raspberry crop. It is quite obvious that there was a damage, because on the days when it rained heavily, part of the raspberries crumbled. It was useless to pick them, because no one would take such raspberries for processing. Accordingly, several days of harvesting and processing of the crop can be considered lost. It is also not entirely clear what will be the quality of the raspberries that will be harvested in the coming days and whether they will be suitable for freezing.

The harvesting season of summer raspberries in Serbia lasts for about 7-8 weeks. The main two varieties of raspberries grown in Serbia are the summer varieties ” Willamette ” and “Meeker”. Remontant raspberry varieties are becoming more popular in Serbia, but they are still not a significant source of raw material for freezing in Serbia.

Thus, despite the impossibility of an accurate assessment of the damage, we can roughly estimate that there is a good probability that from 6% to 9% of the raspberry crop in Serbia was lost due to the rains. In previous years, when the demand for frozen raspberries on the world market was very high, such a percentage of losses would inevitably lead to a sharp surge in prices. However, at the moment, the stocks of frozen raspberries in the world, according to EastFruit, are still at an all-time high. Therefore, in our opinion, these losses can only have a slight psychological impact on prices, but they will not be able to radically change the situation on the market. Unless, of course, there will be new rains or other natural disasters.

EastFruit

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