Fruit and vegetable business of Ukraine in 2022
The toughest year for independent Ukraine is drawing to a close. The agrarian front mastered every new challenge. Taras Bashtannyk, President of the Ukrainian Horticultural Union (UHA)shared the year’s results for Ukrainian growers of vegetables and fruits, writes the Horticultural Union of Ukraine (UHA).
According to the expert, 2022 should be divided into seasons to understand the situation. It is also better to analyze each culture individually.
“Spring was, to say the least, unpredictable and difficult. Fortunately, perennial plantings of berries and fruits were planted much earlier. It was immediately clear that due to the extremely unstable situation, no one would start new plantations in the spring. Producers faced shortages of fertilizers, chemicals and packaging. Despite everything, the problems were quickly resolved,“, Taras Bashtannyk describes the situation on the fruit and berry market.
Referring to the vegetable growing industry, the UHA President noted that Ukraine lost a large area of vegetable crops. In addition, due to the rapid occupation of the south of Ukraine, many products remained in the refrigerators.
“This led to imported borscht vegetables dominating the Ukrainian market in spring and partly in summer. Imports dominated until native vegetables grew in the unoccupied territories. All this has led to a significant increase in the cost of the borsch set compared to 2021 and 2020. The biggest price records were set by onions and carrots‘ notes Taras Bashtannyk.
Berries are mainly grown in summer. To conduct a qualitative analysis, the specialist divided them into main positions.
“There were fewer offers on the fresh market as there were once again no products from the south. But the demand was lower. Many have left the country. In addition, purchasing power has fallen significantly. But there were enough products for the fresh market. It always consumes a certain amount of berries, and what it cannot consume is frozen and processed.‘ says the President of the UHA.
Given the lack of large quantities of fresh berries, the price of strawberries was not low. This resulted in strawberries not being frozen. According to the expert, Ukraine has not exported or processed many strawberries this year, but the demand for the fresh market has been satisfied.
«In terms of price, strawberries were 40-45% more expensive this year than last year. In general, the season was not bad for strawberry producers growing on the territory controlled by Ukraine. Those who worked “on the other side” had problems. I spoke to colleagues who have plantations in the occupied territories – they harvested and sold. The harvest went to the Crimea, possibly further. They sold it for a pittance – 20 UAH/kg of strawberries, which is under or close to cost. The average price of strawberries in Ukraine this year was 50 UAH/kg,‘ says Taras Bashtannyk.
Traditionally, this culture is grown in the north, west and partially in the center. It is not grown in the south and east. Therefore, the occupation of the territories has not affected the blueberry balance in any way.
“The blueberry harvest was very heavy this year – 30-40% higher than forecast. That was bad too – there were a lot of blueberries and a lot fewer hypermarkets. There are no resorts that have previously sold blueberries. In addition, many wealthy people went abroad, and blueberries could not – the logistics were very expensive and long because of the queues. And blueberries are such a perishable commodity‘ remarked the expert.
He noted that blueberries were still being exported, but exports remained at last year’s levels. Current production levels were higher than last year, but consumption was not.
“All this was the reason for it this year there were many blueberries on the market. There is nothing surprising. Blueberries have become a popular mass berry and the final price of 50-60 UAH/kg is the future of the coming years‘ said Taras Bashtannyk.
There weren’t many cherries this year. The main market participant Melitopol could not sell any products in Ukraine due to the temporary occupation.
“There is a paradox. Other regions where cherries were grown, Vynnytsia and Chernivtsi, did not even cover the price of cherries this year. I still haven’t found an answer as to why this happened. There were few cherries this year and the quality was not bad. I attribute this to the fact that the cherries were harvested a little later this year when blueberries, raspberries and strawberries were on the market. That’s why, there didn’t seem to be many cherries, but the prices were low,‘ adds Taras Bashtannyk.
The Ukrainian domestic market for fresh and frozen raspberries is small. Therefore, the lion’s share of these berries is exported.
“Those who grew summer raspberry varieties and harvested them in July-August sold them quite profitably. There were very high prices in international markets, mainly in Europe. They were caused by significant, also artificial attacks on the part of Serbia. Therefore, summer raspberries were really expensive. However, most of the raspberries in Ukraine are autumn and permanent. They are harvested from mid-August to September. These raspberries were so cheap that the Serbs still can’t sell anything. The raspberry harvest in Ukraine was not bad and many berries were frozen. But the proportion of inferior raspberries was also considerable. Why? Since it rained all the time in September,‘ says Taras Bashtannyk.
He stressed that the power outages in Ukraine began in October, and domestic growers began exporting quick-frozen raspberries, despite the price.
“Poles looked at low prices and decided to buy. A month ago raspberries of a certain quality cost 2.80 EUR/kg and at the end of the week 2.10 EUR/kg. The price fell by 30% in a week! Such a trend is a rarity.” said the president of the UHA.
There are still quite a lot of frozen raspberry leftovers in Ukraine. Europe is in no hurry to buy them, as they hope prices are yet to fall.
“Another factor comes into play with frozen raspberries. Due to the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, a lull is expected in the frozen berries market soon. Therefore, the market will freeze for at least 1.5 months. And that doesn’t make it easier for Ukrainians – leftovers can’t be sold anywhere. It doesn’t seem to get any better with electricity in the next few months,‘ adds the expert.
As Taras Bashtannyk noted: Overproduction has been a problem in the apple market in Ukraine for three years. There are many apples that do not meet the export requirements. In addition, in recent years Ukraine has successfully developed exports to the East and Asia. Now they are largely unavailable due to the use of maritime logistics. Consequently, there is no market for apples.
“Additionally, Ukraine has a competitor with cheap quality apples – Moldova. It has been “banned” – it has no right to ship to Russia. Therefore, the situation with apples is not happy now. It won’t be fun anymore. Many growers are uprooting orchards and some apples have never been picked“ says the UHA President.
There were long queues for processing. In addition, processors are in no hurry to produce apple concentrate.
“Ukrainian concentrate is good quality, but not cheap. Today you should also reckon with expensive logistics. The fact is that the same transport that delivers apple concentrate delivers both oil and fuel and lubricants. The demand and price for them is so high that it is not even worth comparing them with the concentrate. To date, logistics has become three times more expensive. So, the cheaper the product, the less profitable it is to transport it,‘ adds Taras Bashtannyk.
This year has been very difficult for fruit and vegetable growers. Several companies involved in the processing of berries did not work this year for various reasons. Unfortunately, some farms in the regions with active hostilities were destroyed by shelling.
“The area planted has not been reduced this year, but apparently no one has planted anything new. The dynamics of increasing the area is 4-5 times lower than last year. That is quite logical – the country is at war. Orchards and plantations are perennial plantations, they are not grain crops that are sown for a year or two. Also, few investors are doing well today. There is a painful lack of investment funds. The fact is that many grain companies grow berries, but the situation in the grain business today is very bad. What kind of investments can we talk about here?‘ concludes Taras Bashtannyk.
The UHA President is convinced that further developments in agribusiness will depend on the course of the war. When it’s over quickly, farmers have it easier. If not, the situation will be similar this year.
“Apple business will be tough, but on the contrary, everything will be fine with raspberries. The situation with blueberries will depend on the future harvest. As for vegetables, I think so They will be cheaper next year as their supply will increase. We speak of a new harvest. Only a few farms could quickly reorient themselves and plant vegetables this spring. There will be even more of them next year” remarked the specialist.
Taras Bashtannyk believes that there will be no problems with the seed in the new season either. Ukraine consumes a certain amount of seeds annually and this will not change. Only part of the seeds that previously went to southern Ukraine are now sent elsewhere.
The specialist also predicted the situation on the berry market.
“Strawberry prices will be quite high next year, quite similar to this year. But blueberry prices will fall. They will not be higher than 2022, possibly even lower. Raspberry prices will be the same as they are now – maybe they will fall a little, but not by much. The price of berries and fruits should be about the same as this year, and only vegetables will be cheaper. I am sure that next year there will be a lot of carrots and onions in Ukraine. After all, this vegetable set its own price records in 2022‘ says Taras Bashtannyk.
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