The EastFruit team conducted a retail audit on November 24-25, 2020 of supermarket fruit and vegetable departments in Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Georgia, Tajikistan, and Moldova. Results showed the capital city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan as the leader in retail prices in supermarkets.
If the high prices for bananas, mandarins, and oranges in Uzbekistan are justified by the fact that these are imports plus the delivery logistics to Uzbekistan are very expensive (i.e., geographically far from any ocean), then the high prices for table grapes, potatoes, beets, greenhouse cucumbers, etc. is somewhat surprising.
We are aware that the majority of Uzbekistan’s residents still buy vegetables and fruits in local markets (not supermarkets) and they are often much cheaper there. Yet, we see sales of fruits and vegetables in supermarkets growing at a high rate while sales in bazaars are constantly decreasing. This means the future is in modern trade formats despite the country’s long history with traditional bazaar formats.
Tashkent also topped another one of our ratings becoming the city with the sharpest rise in prices for fruits and vegetables in one year. Compared to the end of November 2019, retail prices for fruits and vegetables in this capital city increased by an average of 23%. Moreover, 11 out of 14 analyzed items rose in price. The most dramatic rise in price was for parsley and dill by 70% as well as cabbage and carrots by an average of 60%. Apples fell in price more than twice and prices for bananas and table grapes fell slightly by 1-3%.
For comparison, consumers in Tashkent versus Tbilisi paid on average 3.4 times more per kilogram of mandarin, 2.2 times more per kilogram of cucumber, and 56% more per kilogram of table grape. Also in Tashkent, consumers had to shell out 2.2 times more per kilogram for banana and beetroot than in Dnipro, Ukraine.
Incidentally, it was possible to buy the cheapest greenhouse tomato in Tashkent whereas, in Kyiv, consumers paid 80% more. The cheapest apple was also sold here but the residents of Dushanbe paid 63% more for them.
It should be noted that overall Uzbekistan has good opportunities to expand its season for selling traditional fruits such as table grapes. This will become possible if the varietal composition and technologies for processing and storing products are updated. In turn, this will lead to the leveling off of seasonal product pricing which will stimulate consumption.
Uzbekistan should consider simplifying imports of certain products not efficiently grown domestically in order to provide the population with a wider range of fruits and vegetables. Undoubtedly, there are good prospects for the greenhouse business in Uzbekistan, which can and should provide the necessary volume and range of vegetables for the domestic market as well as for export year-round.
The expected entry of new supermarket chains, including foreign and international ones, into the retail market of Uzbekistan, will increase retail trade competition and efficiency, which will lead to a decrease in retail prices for vegetables and fruits. In turn, an increase in the quality standards of fruits and vegetables grown in Uzbekistan should occur, which will have a beneficial effect on its sales within the country and for the supply of vegetables and fruits for export.
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