A large selection of strawberries is available on the Georgian market. Small local varieties as well as larger European open field varieties imported from Turkey and even strawberries from local greenhouses are available to Georgian buyers. Each category is different in quality and price and aims at different consumers. The Georgian team of EastFruit tried to find out which strawberries are preferred by consumers on what grounds, and how the producers decide on which varieties to invest.
At the moment, the most affordable in terms of price and volume on the market are local varieties of open field strawberries, which are mainly produced in Kakheti. Kakhetian strawberries are usually small in size and easily damaged during transportation, at the moment consumers can buy them for 5-7 lari / kg ($ 1.48-2.07) mainly in the agricultural markets and small shops of vegetables and fruits near their homes. Kakhetian strawberries are seasonal and available during May-June. Based on prices and qualityare bought by the population with a low income. However, it is widely believed among consumers that relatively small Kakhetian strawberries are tastier than large strawberries, and that large fruits are obtained using artificial additives and fertilizers, and small Kakhetian strawberries are considered a pure product.
Kakhetian strawberry producers receive the lowest price for their product, which is primarily related to the quality of this product, although the costs of its production are also low. Vasil Bluashvili is one of the producers of Kakhetian strawberries, this year he collects strawberries from his one hectare farm and sells them for about 3 lari per kg. In terms of costs the most important item is the labour, considering that the producer did not purchase seedlings, mulch and irrigation systems. The producer notes that it is difficult to sell strawberries this season, citing a decrease in the purchasing power of the population, but he plans to grow Kakhetian strawberries in the future, as he believes that due to its taste, the demand for such strawberries will remain high.
After the Kakhetian strawberries, the most affordable European varieties from open fields are varieties such as San Andreas. A strawberry that stands out visually by being a larger type and is good for transportation. Consumers can buy it mainly in supermarkets, as well as in vegetable and fruit shops. Prices for it vary from 10 to 12 lari, so the consumers of this type of strawberries are the people with a higher income. In this category, competitors are both imported strawberries and relatively cheap Kakhetian strawberries during the season (May-June).
In Kakheti, one of the producers of strawberries is Sofo Makhatlishvili, who, together with her partners, grows strawberries on 2.5 hectares in the open field. The garden has a mulch and drip irrigation system. Their sales partners are the Nikora and AgroHub supermarket chains. Last year, prices for such strawberries started at 7 lari ($ 2.07) and at the end of the season, in late autumn, increased to 11 lari ($ 3.26). According to Makhatlishvili, supermarkets have their own requirements for the quality and packaging of strawberries. Supermarket chains usually sell pre-packaged berries, so they require strawberries to be picked and placed in small containers. Product calibration also occurs during harvest.
Local greenhouse strawberries are in the premium price category, one of the new producers in this category is QNG Hospitality, which produces San Andreas greenhouse strawberries under the Ma Gemme brand. This year the greenhouse received its first commercial crop, which is already popular among the consumers. As one of the founders of “Ma gemme” Keti Dolidze told EastFruit,ù that the company plans to grow premium strawberries all year round, so the price of their product is relatively high. The company currently sells a kilogram of strawberries for 15 lari ($ 4.44) and plans to keep this price throughout the year. Ma Gemme strawberries can be ordered online as well as purchased in supermarkets in Planta packaging.
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