Wholesale prices for potatoes on the Moldovan market began declining a week before the main winter holidays after two months of stability. According to EastFruit, the average price level dropped by about 1 MDL/kg, to 7 MDL/kg (0.31/kg) by the beginning of the week. The decline continues, albeit slowly, in the New Year’s Eve week. However, retail prices for potatoes have been increasing by 3-5% in store retail and, more obviously, in market retail since mid-December. At the same time, the range of “consumer” prices for potatoes is almost twice as high as wholesale prices – 9-13 MDL/kg.
The operators of the fruit and vegetable market in Moldova believe the main reason for the significant “price gap” is declining demand. Many city dwellers leave for the winter holidays either in villages or out of the country. According to their observations, the outflow of winter tourists has significantly exceeded their inflow in the past few years. Moreover, labor migrants that returned to celebrate the New Year with their families also spend holidays in villages more often. Due to the decreasing number of urban consumers, the demand for basic daily food products is decreasing – not only for potatoes but also for vegetables of the “borsch set”. In addition, even low-income consumers are trying to buy more “festive” foods. For these reasons, demand and wholesale prices for potatoes are declining.
At the same time, retail prices are rising as a result of the marketing strategy “selling less but more expensive.” Apparently, the fact that until now potatoes have been the cheapest product in the fruit and vegetable departments also plays a role. That is, their “price growth potential” is higher than, for example, carrots and onions.
It is noteworthy that in the last five years, wholesale prices for potatoes grew on the eve of the winter holidays only this year and in 2020. Both years were “heavily crisis”: one pandemic, the other military. Both are dry and lean, with very inactive imports. However, there are potato imports in very small batches, tens of tonnes per week, to the Moldovan market (where potatoes are among the most expensive potatoes in the countries covered by the East Fruit monitoring) from the EU and Ukraine in December 2022. But even these volumes “put pressure on wholesale prices.
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