According to EastFruit experts, Pakistani potato growers have started harvesting winter potatoes. Syed Muzzammil Shah from Syed Trade Group, a fresh fruit and vegetable exporting company, tells us that this year’s winter potato harvest began almost a month earlier than usual. As a rule, growers start harvesting potatoes in January, but the weather conditions this year made it possible to harvest earlier.
The company is currently looking for buyers for the first potatoes in Belarus and Russia, celebrating a good harvest in Pakistan this winter. By the way, due to the climatic conditions of Pakistan, potatoes are harvested twice a year there – in January and in April-May. The Pakistani trader also notes that Uzbekistan has unexpectedly become the largest market for potatoes from Pakistan this year. “Over the past two months, Uzbekistan has imported over 400 thousand tonnes of potatoes from Pakistan. But these were old potatoes, which were stored in Uzbekistan,” Mr. Syed Muzzammil Shah says.
Obviously, Uzbekistan was trying to build up potato reserves to supply the country in winter. However, in this way, Uzbek importers also assumed the risks of losses during storage. Everyone expected potato prices to only grow in the future, especially in the view of the detection of quarantine organisms by the Uzbek regulatory authorities in potatoes from Pakistan and Iran.
Will early Pakistani potatoes be affordable when delivered to Russia, Belarus and Uzbekistan? Will there be a demand for them?
The answer is not clear yet. A Pakistani trader complains that the prices for sea freight in containers have jumped more than 2.5-3 times over the year, from $3000-4000 to $7500-9000 for a 40 ft container! Thus, the cost of delivery of potatoes to Russia alone will reach $0.29-33. According to EastFruit price monitoring data, the price of potatoes in Russia is now about $0.38/kg. Russia, Belarus and Uzbekistan were not previously priority sales markets for potatoes for Pakistan, because the country mainly exports them to Asia and the Middle East.
Prices for potatoes in Russia have decreased by 15% over the past six weeks. In Belarus, potato prices have been stable and are currently on average $0.02/kg lower than in Russia.
As for Uzbekistan, prices have also tended to decline recently there – obviously it was because of huge imports. The price decrease was about 10% in two weeks. At the same time, the price of potatoes in Uzbekistan still remains the highest in the region and reaches $0.46/kg for small wholesale batches.
The lowest wholesale prices for potatoes are currently recorded in Ukraine. Potatoes are sold at $0.17/kg in wholesale there, i.e. almost 3 times cheaper than in Uzbekistan and 2 times cheaper than in Belarus and Russia. However, there are regulatory problems with the access of Ukrainian potatoes to the Russian market, which does not allow raising the prices.
Pakistan is one of the largest exporters of potatoes. In the best years, the annual export from the country reaches almost 700 thousand tonnes. The main markets for potatoes for Pakistan are normally the UAE, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Malaysia and Oman. In connection with the recent events in Afghanistan, the demand for Pakistani potatoes in this country has fallen sharply, which allows Pakistan to supply the freed volumes to the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
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