According to EastFruit analysts, given a continuing decline in imports of greenhouse tomatoes to Russia in 2021, the aggressive expansion of Turkmenistan into this market became a sensation of the year.
In the first eight months of 2021, Turkmenistan has already exported 32 thousand tons of greenhouse tomatoes to Russia, which is almost twice (92%) as much as in the same period last year. This provided Turkmenistan with the 4th position in the ranking of the largest suppliers of greenhouse tomatoes to Russia. In terms of the supply volume, Turkmenistan almost caught up with Uzbekistan that also increased exports over the year, but not so significantly. Uzbek exports grew by 55% to 37.4 thousand tons. For comparison, imports from Turkey decreased by 2% during the same period.
It is time for Uzbekistan to start worrying about its greenhouses that, unlike in Turkmenistan, have problematic access to energy for heating in winter. We wrote about this in the article “Why is Uzbekistan killing their successful greenhouse industry?“. If Turkmenistan used to be a relatively small supplier and not a competitor to Uzbek greenhouses, Turkmen tomatoes are now actively competing with Uzbek ones in foreign markets.
“Considering the growth rate of supply volumes, as well as the situation with gas prices and gas supply to greenhouse plants in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, we do not exclude that Turkmenistan will overtake Uzbekistan in terms of supply of greenhouse tomatoes to Russia by the end of 2021. Suppliers from Turkmenistan will have a competitive advantage in the cost of energy, although given record high prices for greenhouse vegetables, the cost of their production is becoming less important. This means that if Turkmenistan has sufficient volumes, it will be able to diversify the export of greenhouse tomatoes, supplying them not only to Russia, but also to other countries of the region.” says Andriy Yarmak, economist at the Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Notably, Turkmenistan almost doubled the exports of greenhouse tomatoes to Russia during the same period last year. Thus, Turkmenistan has increased their exports to Russia fourfold in just two years. It has already managed to bypass such countries on the Russian market as China, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Iran and Egypt in terms of export volumes. The share of tomatoes from Turkmenistan in Russian imports reached an impressive 10% for the first time in the first 8 months of 2021.
In addition, Kazakhstan increased purchases of Turkmen greenhouse tomatoes in 2021. Exports increased by 73% to 13 thousand tons in January-July this year. The first batches of Turkmen-produced greenhouse tomatoes were also exported to Ukraine and Belarus in 2021. By the way, Ukraine can turn out to be a promising sales market for greenhouse tomatoes from Turkmenistan in winter and spring, given the unhappy prospects of the local greenhouse business.
The landmark supply of greenhouse tomatoes from Turkmenistan to the EU country is also worth mentioning. One truck with Turkmen tomatoes reached Austria in April 2021. Although there were no further exports for unknown reasons, the situation may change in the coming months, and greenhouse tomatoes from Turkmenistan may enter the markets of the EU countries again.
In general, Russia reduced the import volume of greenhouse tomatoes by 12% to 337 thousand tons in the first eight months of 2021.
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