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Uzbekistan imports fewer bananas, despite expensive apricots – why?

Audits of the fruit and vegetable departments of supermarkets by EastFruit have always confirmed the relatively high level of retail prices for bananas in Uzbekistan, caused by extremely low consumption, expensive logistics and high import duties. Therefore, Uzbekistan is a country with ultra-low consumption of bananas. You can read about the banana consumption per capita this article.

It seemed that banana consumption in Uzbekistan couldn’t be lower, but it may decline again in the first half of 2021. And this will happen despite high prices for fruits and vegetables in the country’s market, in particular, apricots and cherries in the first half of the season. The main supplier of bananas to Uzbekistan, Ecuador, reported a three-fold decrease in the supply of bananas to the Uzbek market in January-April. Even an increase in the supply of bananas from Pakistan to Uzbekistan is unlikely to cover the decline in Ecuadorian imports.

What is the reason for the decline in banana imports and can Uzbekistan increase the imports of these fruits in the second half of the season?

One of the main reasons is the global rise in banana prices, which we wrote about here. The second reason is the devaluation of the Uzbek currency. The devaluation of the Uzbek sum added about 5-6% to the price of the banana, which has already risen in price, even without taking into account the decrease in trade volumes, which normally leads to an increase in wholesalers’ markups. The third reason is the discrediting of bananas during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when a rumor spread throughout the country that covid-19 was transmitted with bananas exported from China. Despite there being no grain of truth in these rumors, they still influence the choice of some consumers.

As a result, we have a rather negative background which, however, may well change in the second part of the season.

The Uzbek team of EastFruit drew attention to the fact that wholesale prices for bananas in the country fell to last year’s levels in US dollars for the first time in 4.5 months, although bananas in sums are still significantly more expensive. As of June 17, 2021, the average wholesale price of bananas in Tashkent amounted to $ 1.79 per kg (19,000 sums), having decreased over the week – from June 10 to June 17 by 14%. On the same date last year, the average wholesale price was only 7 cents lower: $ 1.72 per kg (17,500 sums). However, the wholesale price for local apricots is almost the same now – 16 thousand sums which means that exotic bananas look quite competitive in price.

Supermarket chains have an important influence on the banana trade in the country, too. Moreover, there are more and more of them in the country. For supermarkets, bananas are a very convenient product, because they can be imported directly all year round and sold cheaper than in the markets due to the large volume. Therefore, despite the low consumption volumes, bananas are the most sold fruit in the supermarkets of Uzbekistan. Accordingly, as the number of supermarket chain stores in the country grows, the consumption of bananas will also grow.

Until the coronavirus 2020, banana consumption in Uzbekistan grew very rapidly. In 2017 the country imported 17.5 thousand tons of bananas and in 2019 the volume of imports increased 2.5 times and reached 42.7 thousand tons. In 2020, the imports of bananas to Uzbekistan decreased to 36.7 thousand tons.

EastFruit

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