According to EastFruit analysts, Tajik consumers will be able to enjoy affordable prices for local table grapes and apples during New Year’s 2021. This is all the more important against the backdrop of a 35% increase in prices for imported citrus fruits per year.
However, the joy of consumers is a shock to producers and winegrowers in Tajikistan. According to Bakhtiyor Abduvokhidov, a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the sharp drop in wholesale prices for the white grape variety Hussaini (also known as Ladyfinger grapes) was especially unexpected. In 2020, growers of this usually prized grape variety received only half of the price they were paid in 2019. Even the pre-New Year’s increase in demand did not greatly affect prices. The average selling wholesale price for Hussaini white grapes is now 7 somonis/kg ($0.62/kg).
The Hussaini variety is the main grape variety that is put for long-term storage in Tajikistan. Despite the fact that large areas of vineyards suffered from frosts in the spring, a lot of white grapes were kept for storage. Then, everyone decided to bring these volumes to the market on the eve of the New Year, which was not slow to affect prices.
Now, there are much less black grapes in the storage facilities of Tajikistan, but its average wholesale price has also slightly decreased over the year. Today, black grape varieties in Tajikistan are sold in bulk at 20% cheaper, or 10 somonis/kg ($0.90/kg).
According to Andriy Yarmak, an economist at the Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the main problem of Tajikistan’s grape producers is that there are no changes in the structure of cultivated varieties. The modern consumer prefers seedless varieties.
“Analyzing the American table grape market, one can see that all leading varieties, without exception, are seedless. At the same time, vineyards function with much less biological potential due to constantly changing varietal preferences. The situation is similar in Chile. The viticulture of the European Union is actively moving in the same direction,” notes Andriy Yarmak.
EastFruit also notes that prices for plums dropped dramatically over the year by 40% at once and for all apple varieties. The largest reductions in average wholesale prices are observed for local Tajik apple varieties, which have fallen in price by more than 40%, as well as for the Golden Delicious apple. Wholesale prices for green apple varieties such as Simirenko and Granny Smith fell by 20-30% on average. Large and more modern fruit storage in Tajikistan has not yet been opened and sales are carried out from farm warehouses that are only conditionally adapted for storing apples. Therefore, many believe that the rise in apple prices is still ahead.
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