HomeNewsPoor harvest of persimmon in Spain – is it a chance for Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia?
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Poor harvest of persimmon in Spain – is it a chance for Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia?

According to EastFruit analysts, the persimmon season in Europe is just beginning, but it is safe to say that the prices will be relatively high. Let’s figure out how the countries of our region, namely Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia, can take advantage of this.

Today Spain, the leader of the global persimmon market, is known to receive 20-25% less of the harvest. Moreover, the reason is not frosts, but the rapid spread of the pest Planococcus (mealybug), which has affected most of the persimmon plantations in Spain. This led to an increase in treatments, and hence to an increase in costs, as well as the loss of a part of the persimmon harvest and deterioration of its quality.

Spain annually exports about 210 thousand tons of persimmons, which corresponds to approximately one third of the global trade in this fruit. In the 2021/22 season, the export of persimmons from Spain may decrease to 160-170 thousand tons, which means it will be the lowest in the last decade.

Interestingly, persimmons from Spain and those from the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus practically do not overlap in the global market. In fact, we can say that these are two completely different products. Previously, they “collided” on the Russian market, but Spain cannot supply persimmons to the Russian Federation, and re-export through such countries as Belarus has recently become more complicated. Therefore, most often these two products can be seen on the neighboring Ukrainian market. Central Asia and the Caucasus, on the other hand, export almost all their persimmons to Russia and the CIS countries.

Since Spain exports its persimmons to other EU countries, as well as to Ukraine and the Middle East, a question arises, does this mean that persimmons from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other countries of the region can partially replace Spanish ones in these markets?

First of all, it should be said that persimmon production is actively growing in Georgia and rather stable in the countries of Central Asia. Georgia is increasing production and export every year, and in 2020 for the first time it became one of the 6 countries exporting more than 10 thousand tons of persimmons of its own production. True, Georgia is still far from Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan in terms of export volume. More than 200 thousand tons of persimmons are exported annually from Azerbaijan (mainly to the Russian Federation), and almost 100 thousand tons were exported from Uzbekistan in 2020. The export volumes of Uzbek persimmons are also growing very quickly. Like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan supplies almost all of its persimmons to Russia and the countries of the former USSR. It must be noted that, perhaps, most of the persimmons from Azerbaijan are re-exports, primarily of Iranian products.

In 2021, the harvest of persimmons in the Caucasus and Central Asia is delayed, but it promises to be quite good. The main problem that can affect the possibilities of export diversification is the difference in the appearance and taste of persimmons.

Spanish persimmons, seedless and not harsh, are often called “Sharon” when sold. In fact, this is not entirely correct, since Sharon is a trademark of the Israeli Triumph persimmon variety. At the same time, we are talking not only about the variety, but also the method of bringing it to the required condition, which has been kept secret for a long time.

However, now this method is also used for other seedless persimmon varieties grown in different countries. In order for persimmon to acquire the desired properties, it is harvested unripe and subjected to accelerated ripening in sealed chambers with a high carbon dioxide content. It removes viscosity, i.e. reduces the content of tannins in persimmons. Previously, ethylene was used for this, as when ripening bananas, but this method leads to persimmons becoming soft, which impairs their transportability and the tannin content does not decrease so significantly.

This method of processing persimmons with carbon dioxide allowed to considerably increase the volume of global trade in them, since they do not grow everywhere. After processing persimmons with carbon dioxide, a large, beautiful and clean fruit of crunchy seedless persimmon is obtained, with a pleasant sweet taste. As the fruit remains quite dense and firm, it can be stored long without losing quality parameters.

In Central Asia and the Transcaucasus, approaches to the cultivation and processing of persimmons are not yet as developed as in the EU countries. Persimmons here tend to have more damage and are less easily transported. Some of the cultivated varieties have large seeds, although there are also seedless varieties. Also, some of the varieties are harsh, as they have a high content of tannins. In addition, modern approaches to ripening are almost not applied here. Accordingly, it is much more difficult to transport and store these persimmons. And supermarkets are less willing to sell such products, since the losses are higher during their sales.

Taking into account the difference in appearance and taste parameters, as well as the higher risks of trade in persimmons from our region, it is obvious that a decrease in the harvest of persimmons in Spain will not have a large impact on the price and export of persimmons from Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan and other countries of the region. After all, exports will be directed, as before, primarily to the Russian market, which is the largest importer of persimmon in the world.

Also, most likely, consumers of Spanish persimmon in countries such as Ukraine and Belarus will not buy persimmons from other countries, since this is a completely different product. Another negative factor for persimmons is the excess of cheap apples on the Russian market.

Nevertheless, the most “advanced” persimmon exporters and producers from our region should use this chance in order to find new markets for their persimmons. After all, experts foresee that persimmon prices in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will decline in the coming weeks.

Among those who will certainly benefit from the decline in the persimmon harvest in Spain are farmers from Israel and Italy, who will be able to raise prices for their products in the 2021/22 season.

By the way, persimmons in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are increasingly dried in the sun and sold in dried form, which also brings good profit. Part of persimmons in Georgia is sold in a similar way, as we have already described in our material with photographs. In addition, amid the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, persimmon consumption is trending as tannins in persimmon juice are believed to kill the COVID-19 virus. At the end of last year, there was an incredible jump in persimmon prices in Tajikistan given widespread information in the media and the benefits of persimmons to fight the virus.

In any case, now the positive factors on the regional persimmon market still prevail over the negative ones. This means that the prices for persimmons are likely to be at least not lower than last year, as well as the income of farmers in our region.

 

EastFruit

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