EastFruit analysts draw attention to the continued increase in the efficiency of banana trade in Uzbekistan, which allows them to reduce wholesale price relative to other countries. In particular, the wholesale prices of bananas in Uzbekistan are now even lower than in Georgia and Moldova. At the same time, Georgia has access to the sea, and to get to Uzbekistan is one of only two double land-locked countries in the world! In the past, banana prices in Uzbekistan where always significantly higher than in Moldova and Georgia.
Obviously, a positive role in reducing the relative cost of bananas in Uzbekistan was also played by the removal of import duties on imported fruits that are not grown in the country for climatic reasons or are grown in insufficient quantities. In addition, bananas are a very convenient product for supermarket chains and Uzbekistan presently is one of the regional leaders in terms of retail sector development.
However, if in 2022 Uzbekistan imported a record volume of bananas, in 2023 imports of these fruits are declining. In the first 4 months of 2023, imports of bananas to Uzbekistan comprised only 29.2 thousand tons, which is 27% less than in the same period of the previous year. The main reason is that banana prices have been relatively high between January and April 2023 inclusive, with prices in April exceeding last year’s levels by 40-50%.
However, as we can see in the chart above, at the end of April 2023 wholesale prices of bananas in Uzbekistan began to decline, and at the moment, they are already at record lows for this period of the year. Therefore, we should expect an increase in imports, because Uzbekistan is still a country with a relatively low level of consumer incomes. Thus, the price level of the product directly affects the volumes of trade.
Fedir Rybalko, FAO international consultant, believes that there is still a lot of room to improve the efficiency of banana imports to Uzbekistan. In his opinion, the use of the pooling system when importing bananas will further reduce the costs of supermarket chains and importers, and make this fruit even more affordable. Importers of bananas alone can save, according to Fedir Rybalko, more than $10 million US dollars a year (see his speech at the HortiTech Uzbekistan conference at this link)!
It is interesting to note that in the first 4 months of 2023, almost the entire volume of banana imports came from one supplier – Ecuador. A year earlier, Uzbekistan, in addition to Ecuador, actively imported bananas from Turkey and India.
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