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High quality and low prices for the Moldovan apples at the end of the season

As EastFruit experts note, the quality of apples improved somewhat in Chisinau supermarket chains in May. Along with the varietals Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Gala, Braeburn, the quality of which has never been satisfactory before, even the variety labeled simply as “red apples” looks amazingly fresh for this time of year, sorted by caliber, shape and undamaged.

Apple prices in the capital’s supermarkets have remained almost unchanged for about 5 weeks. Depending on the positioning of the chain format and product variety, they have stabilized in the range of 11-14 MDL/kg ($0.61-0.78/kg). That is, apples were and remain the cheapest fruits, their prices being several times lower than, for example, for pears, bananas and mandarins, and also many times lower than for early cherries, apricots and strawberries. Given the fairly good quality of apples, according to some supermarket employees, “the last window of opportunity may suddenly open for apples with chain retailers at the end of the season, they may become the preferred fruits for some categories of buyers for a short time.”

The seemingly obvious explanation for the atypical improvement in the assortment of apples in Moldovan retail chains at the end of spring is an attempt by leading horticultural enterprises and traders to sell at least a small volume of high-quality apples that were not exported at a price higher than industrial raw materials. From this point of view, local chain retail turned out to be a good option.

Two facts can serve as confirmation of this version. First, according to the preliminary assessment of specialists from agricultural producers’ associations, Moldovan apple exporters are unlikely to repeat the high result of April’s external deliveries (32 000 tonnes) in May. Secondly, calibrated small Moldovan apples became available in some stores in flow packs with information in English, that is, clearly intended for export.

However, the leadership of fruit farmers’ organizations argues that, in a broader context, it is wrong to write off the improvement in the quality and assortment of apples in Moldovan supermarket chains only as big logistical problems when exporting them in 2022. Three or four years ago, the idea “not to ignore the domestic fruit market in terms of quality” began to be promoted at the level of associations of agricultural producers and government structures in Moldova. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, supermarket chains, for a number of reasons, having pressed the city markets in the struggle for buyers, as fruit growers say, “began to buy apples at a higher price.”

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