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Uzbekistan imported a record volume of bananas in 2021

Uzbekistan imported 2.3 times more bananas In January-October 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. Moreover, the volume of banana imports during the reviewed period is 60% more than the annual volume of imports in 2020 and 37% more than in 2019, EastFruit analysts note.

According to the State Statistics Committee, Uzbekistan imported 58.6 thousand tonnes of bananas in 10 months of 2021. For comparison, the volume of imports in the same period of 2020 amounted to 25.5 thousand tonnes, and in total in 2020 – 36.7 thousand tonnes.

The main supplier of bananas to Uzbekistan, as in previous years, is Ecuador accounting for 98.6% of imports in January-October 2021.

Banana consumption in Uzbekistan used to grow very quickly, but the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 interrupted the growing trend, and the volume of banana imports in 2020 decreased by 14% compared to 2019. One of the factors was unfounded rumors that COVID-19 is transmitted with bananas supplied from China. Despite the absurdity of such rumors, they had a negative impact on the consumption of bananas in Uzbekistan.

What explains the continuation of the growing trend and such a solid increase in the consumption of bananas in Uzbekistan in 2021?

First, the influence of rumors discrediting bananas during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic probably faded away in 2021. Secondly, the relatively high prices for many stone fruits and, in general, for fruits and vegetables due to weather anomalies in 2021. Compared to apricots, cherries – at least in the first half of the season, apples of early and mid-season varieties, and pears throughout the season, bananas in 2021 turned out to be a relatively cheap fruit. The third reason is the expansion of supermarket chains that have a crucial impact on the banana trade in the country. For supermarkets, banana is a very convenient product, because they can import it directly all year round and sell it cheaper than in the markets due to the high volume. Therefore, bananas are the most sold fruits in supermarkets in Uzbekistan. Accordingly, as the number of supermarket chain stores in the country grows, the consumption of bananas will grow.

Moreover, given the decision of the government of Uzbekistan dated October 7, 2021 to exempt the import of a number of fruits from custom duties, which also included bananas, the total annual import volume of 2021 may turn out to be even more impressive. As EastFruit already wrote, the exemption from custom duties has already led to a significant decrease in wholesale prices for banana and citrus fruits. Specifically, average wholesale banana prices declined 16% from November 5 to 19, 2021 and current wholesale banana prices are at the lows recorded in January 2021.

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