“With our analytical team we have worked hard this summer pooling together data from around the world comparing production and consumption and we have evidence that 2021/22 season might well be much more difficult than 2018/19. Farmers in Eastern Europe will be hit hardest having to compete with apple exporters from the EU for the same markets harder than ever”, says Andriy Yarmak, economist of the Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).
Below some of the facts, which will make this season so difficult:
- Eastern Europe will have the largest apple harvest ever with nearly all countries harvesting record crops;
- Iran was second largest global exporter in the previous season already with export volumes approaching China’s. Iran is competing with Moldova and Serbia on the Russian apple market and with Ukraine and the EU on the markets of the Middle East and Asia;
- Turkey is expanding nearly as fast as Iran and is already exporting around 300,000 tonnes of apples per season. Turkey is competing with EU and Ukraine in the Middle East and with Moldova and Serbia in Russia, also expanding very fast on the market of India;
- Ukraine cannot supply apples to the Russian market, and, in addition, it still does not have agreed competitive conditions to access important and fastest growing apple markets such as Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Egypt, which greatly narrows the exports prospects for this country;
- Russa will reduce apple imports again by around 60-80,000 tonnes after another record high harvest and Moldova and Serbia will need to find alternative markets for these volumes;
- Despite a delayed harvest in 2021, Russian apple market is flooded with cheap apples already and prices are lowest ever;
- Central Asia will also have a record high apple crop again as expansion there continues;
- Moldova couldn’t sell a relatively low apple harvest of 2020 and this year apple production in Moldova could increase by 150-180 thousand tonnes, making it really hard for the country with such a small local market;
- Ukraine, Serbia and Moldova will have to find market for at least 180,000 tonnes of apples beyond Russia and they only did 67,000 maximum in 2018/19;
- EU will harvest more apples than usually having to find markets for it in the Middle East and Asia, where positions of Iran and Turkey have strengthened a lot since 2018/19;
- Indications are that China is going to harvest more apples in 2021 compared to 2020 and it remains a leading global exporter. China still has not regain access to the Russian market meaning that it will continue to provide pressure on the apple markets in Asia;
- Indications are that apple consumption in Europe is down again after a sharp increase during 2020. Apples are not considered trendy by new generations of consumers, who are playing a more important role on the market;
- Southern Hemisphere countries are expected to increase apple production by 250-300 thousand tonnes, exporting more to Asia;
- Carry over apple stocks from 2020/21 season in Europe are unusually high, providing additional pressure on the market and reducing the length of the upcoming season;
- Delayed apple harvesting especially in Eastern Europe is also reducing the duration of the season, meaning that farmers will have at least two weeks less to sell their apples;
- “Container crisis” and a sharp rise in the costs of sea freight will become a serious problem for the East European apple exporters, who were targeting premium markets in Asia and the Middle East, putting even more pressure on the farm-gate prices;
- Apple juice concentrate (AJC) is losing market to trendier drinks and industrial apple prices just cannot be high;
- The only positive news for the global apple market is that the USA will decrease the harvest and exports.
Movement restrictions and continued closure of major trade events make it more difficult as exporters are unable to make new contacts with buyers and countries in general have slowed down the process of coordinating market access formalities. Therefore, EastFruit has developed a Telegram-based online platform where foreign buyers could source produce from Eastern Europe and Central Asia but could also promote their products for the region. The platform is called EF Trade Platform and is free for all to use and posting is allowed in Russian and in English. Users are requested to carefully read the rules in the pinned message.
The platform already has around 18,000 users from around 55 world countries with majority of users being from Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Georgia, Serbia, and Tajikistan, making it the largest on-line trading platform in the region.
We are also hoping that the apple industry will step up efforts in promoting fresh apple consumption domestically and internationally and the EastFruit team is here to help. Without increased apple consumption, the apple industry will face major sustainability issues due to growing popularity of berries and exotic fruits. Therefore, farmers need to work together towards better efficiency, improved quality, and more effective and modern marketing efforts, reaching out specifically to new generations of consumers.
The use of the site materials is free if there is a direct and open for search engines hyperlink to a specific publication of the East-Fruit.com website.