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Low prices for Moldovan summer apples are a wake-up call for local growers – Opinion

In Moldova, from the end of July to the end of August 2021, average wholesale prices for apples of summer varieties did not exceed 5-6 MDL/kg ($ 0.28-0.34/kg) and on some occasions dropped to 4 MDL/kg ($ 0.22/kg). In July-August last year, the prices were significantly higher – 6-12 MDL/kg ($ 0.36-0.72/kg).

As the Federation of Agricultural Producers of the Republic of Moldova (FARM) experts say, low prices for 2021 summer apple harvest throughout almost the entire sales season is a red flag for Moldovan growers. It shows, on one hand, the very low potential of effective demand in the domestic market, and on the other, the growing competition of early Moldovan apples in the Russian market with local and imported (Central Asian, Iranian, Turkish) apples. Moreover, apples of autumn varieties are also likely to have low demand and low prices by inertia, at least in September.

The heads of horticultural enterprises and cooperatives claim to receive requests (so far few) from exporting traders for apples of early autumn varieties such as”Gala” and “Golden”, at a relatively high price – 10 MDL/kg ($ 0.56/kg). For comparison, the sales season for these varieties started at 7-8 MDL/kg ($ 0.42-0.48/kg) in September last year. However, at this price at the end of the first week of September this year, when growers will start harvesting Gala and Golden apples in some regions, traders intend to buy fruit of the highest quality, caliber 70 mm or more, in European containers.

According to representatives of farmers’ organizations, although the 2021 apple harvest in Moldova is relatively high – at least 600 thousand tons, as it was previously forecasted, – the quality of fruits in many orchards is an average one. Due to hail in summer and insufficient treatments, diseases (scab) have spread in the apple orchards.  There might be many apples of low quality on the Moldovan market at the beginning of autumn, which are unlikely to be requested by exporters.

In addition, according to the participants in the fruit and vegetable market, many horticultural farms are hoping for active sales of apples from the fields, as it was last year. However, traders are not likely to rush to buy apples this year. Therefore, the right solution for growers without a post-harvest infrastructure would be to rent refrigeration facilities and store sorted apples of the best quality.



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