Like other berries, blackberries became available on the Moldovan market this season two weeks later than usual – only at the beginning of July. However, unlike last year, the quality of blackberries was quite high at the beginning of the season – large sweet berries prevailed. This is probably why the starting wholesale price for blackberries was 45-50 MDL/kg ($ 2.76/kg), about 5 MDL/kg higher than last year. A week after the start of the season, the price of blackberries dropped to an average of 40-45 MDL/kg ($ 2.21-2.48/kg) – the level of June-July 2020. This year, according to the pessimistic forecast of berry growers, prices for blackberries will continue to decline. Unfortunately, there are many reasons.
First, the highest price is usually set by exporting traders for early blackberry varieties exported to Russia. This year, because of the late start of the season, the sales period for early ripe blackberries was short – it will soon be over. At the same time, export demand from berry suppliers to the Russian market has been low so far. According to growers, only one batch of about 8 tons of blackberries (Moldovan blackberries are exported by low-tonnage vehicles) was sent to Russia this week from the northern part of Moldova, where the production of blackberries is concentrated. The export wholesale price was relatively high – 50 MDL/kg. But very soon blackberries of mid- and late-ripening varieties will begin to be exported from the country to the Russian market.
Secondly, growers fear that due to the hot weather, blackberries will suffer from. This defect is already starting to appear. Obviously, the decline in product quality will also affect the price.
Thirdly, many berry growers note that effective demand continues to decline in the domestic market. This is an important factor, because, despite the fact that in recent years blackberries have become the third (after strawberries and raspberries) in terms of importance in the berry sector in Moldova, the total area of blackberry plantations exceeds 200 hectares, it is sold mainly on the domestic market.
Blackberry plantations are concentrated in small farms and their area rarely exceeds 1-3 hectares. Blackberry growers, with very few exceptions, do not have any developed post-harvest infrastructure. As a result, the export of berries is more random than systematic. By and large, the “boom” in the establishment of blackberry plantations five to seven years ago took place with the expectation of sales of products on the domestic market in July-August, when labor migrants from the European Union returned to Moldova for summer vacations. However, in the last two or three years, as the sellers note, August has become a period of a decline in sales. Labor migrants do not go home on vacation, but take their families on vacation or leave the country.
Fourth, market players note a surge in demand for frozen raspberries and a drop in demand for blackberries this year. European buyers are ready to buy Moldovan frozen blackberries only in small batches at a price below EUR 1.6/kg. Berry growers consider it inexpedient to sell blackberries for processing at this price. They can only do it at the end of the season.
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