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Prices for watermelon in Moldova reach a five-year record

Contrary to a long-term trend, prices for watermelon in the first half of August 2022 in Moldova did not decrease, but increased by 20-25%, on average from 4 to 5 MDL/kg ($0.21-26/kg) in wholesale trade. The price in chain retail doubles; in market and bazaar retail, the gap from the average wholesale price is 25-35%. In mid-August this year, watermelons in bulk are sold 15-20% more expensive than in dry 2020. However, the level of average wholesale prices in August 2020 was relatively high, but stable for three weeks and fell for a short period in early September. The market dynamics will apparently be different in 2022. Traders believe that the wholesale price of watermelon in Moldova will grow (perhaps not very quickly and significantly) throughout August and most of September. This month last year, the watermelon crop in some fields was plowed, due to low purchase prices that did not cover the costs of production and harvesting.

The forecast for high watermelon prices in August-September 2022 is based on three preconditions. The main one is the reduction of areas planted with watermelon by 45-50% (according to expert estimates, from 1 500 ha in 2021 to 750 ha in 2022). Sellers of agricultural inputs note that demand for watermelon seeds, a non-essential product, fell almost to zero in March – a month when 40-45% of seeds for sowing are usually sold, due to extremely disturbing news from neighboring Ukraine.

Another factor supporting the August prices for watermelon in Moldova at an unprecedented high level is exports to Ukraine. In physical terms, they are small since commodity resources are limited for the above-mentioned reason. But high wholesale prices for watermelon in the neighboring country (about $0.55/kg on average) allows traders to supply Moldovan watermelon of medium and high quality (striped watermelons over 10 kg) to the Ukrainian market at a price significantly higher than the average price on the Moldovan market in August. Normally, the exports of watermelon from Moldova to Ukraine in the summer are an extremely rare phenomenon.

Finally, experts link the forecast of high demand and prices for watermelon in the second half of August and the first half of September to a potentially low harvest of autumn table grapes. Usually in September, when peak harvesting of grapes begins in Moldova, it partly replaces watermelon in the domestic market. This year, this might not be very evident.

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