According to EastFruit analysts, the potato rush caused by active imports to Russia and Belarus during their own harvesting has gradually decreased. However, it has moved to the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Belarus, Russia, Moldova and Ukraine
This does not mean that potato imports to Belarus and Russia have stopped, but rather indicates that the market has reached a point of balance between supply and demand. This was achieved by increasing the supply of locally produced potatoes and saturating the market with imported ones. As a result, potato prices in Belarus have remained stable for four weeks, and in Russia for three weeks.
However, the level where the price is fixed remains quite high. The wholesale price for potatoes in Belarus is two times higher than on the same date last year, and in Russia it is 2.1 times higher. At the same time, potatoes are more expensive in Russia – $0.48 versus $0.37 per kg in Belarus. For comparison, high-quality potatoes in Ukraine are now sold at $0.23 per kg, and in Moldova – at $0.20.
Accordingly, despite the stabilization of the market, Belarus continues importing potatoes from Ukraine, but in smaller volumes. In addition, market participants say that the volume of re-export of Ukrainian potatoes to Russia has also significantly decreased. Russia continues buying potatoes from many countries, including Iran, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan. According to operational data, potatoes from Pakistan are also available on the Russian market.
However, high prices for potatoes in Belarus and Russia have led to a new growth in potato prices in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Under the influence of potato exports to Russia, prices in Moldova increased. There is a rather unusual situation in the domestic market – there are no imported potatoes on sale at all. However, the potato storage infrastructure is not well developed in the country, so all market participants are confident that prices will grow even faster in the near future.
In Georgia, there is also an increase in prices for the same reasons. Until recently, the exports of potatoes from Georgia were abnormally high, so further price increases are expected. According to the Georgian team at EastFruit, the expectations are so high that seasonal workers are hired to finish the potato harvest at a very high rate for the country of $25 per day! Potato growers in Georgia are sure these costs will pay off. This means that the expectations for potato price are quite high here. So far, the potato prices in Georgia have already approached the price level in Belarus, therefore, the rate of export is most likely to slow down.
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan
We recently reported a sharp rise in potato prices in Uzbekistan by 43% in a week. However, they have risen even more since our publication. According to our representatives in Uzbekistan, prices are going way up there.
Given such a critical situation with the provision of potatoes to the population of Uzbekistan, the government canceled VAT on potato imports. It is gratifying that this sent a signal to the representatives of the fruit and vegetable trade, and our experts report that buyers of wholesale lots of potatoes have appeared in Tajikistan to supply the Uzbek market.
This is logical, since the prices for potatoes in Tajikistan are about $0.27 per kg now – two times lower than in Uzbekistan! By the way, this is the lowest price in the region. Even in Kazakhstan, the largest exporter of potatoes in the region, prices are currently significantly higher. At the same time, Kazakhstan itself breaks records in terms of potato imports.
By the way, potato prices in Tajikistan have already started to rise. If the volume of purchases of potatoes for exports in Tajikistan grows sharply, there may also be a rush of demand and fears of a shortage. Accordingly, the prospects for growth in potato prices in Tajikistan are also quite high.
Another interesting point is potatoes from Afghanistan on the Uzbek market. The supply volumes are assessed as quite high, although market participants report that these might be not only Afghan potatoes, but also the re-exports of potatoes from Pakistan to Uzbekistan.
At this stage, the region from which the potatoes will be supplied is not as important as the availability of the required production volumes. In this regard, traders should pay attention to Poland, where potato prices are currently the lowest in Eastern Europe. Moreover, prices for Polish potatoes fell last week. Taking into account the dynamics of price growth in Central Asia, Polish potatoes may already be supplied to this region, since they can be bought at $0.15 per kg – three times cheaper than potatoes in Uzbekistan last week.
In any case, potato supply is likely to remain very modest and prices relatively high across the region this season. So far, only in Ukraine potato prices have not changed since the very beginning of harvesting. However, prices are most likely to start to rise even here soon.
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