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Report: Heavy potato imports by Ukraine; strong Russian exports to neighbouring countries

In a recent report released by Russian based Fruit-Inform, a produce market information company, commercial potato growers in the Ukraine did not report significant losses occurred during the 2019 growing season in that country.

However, small-scale garden producers suffered severely reduced yields on average. These smallholder growers is an important part of the potato production infrastructure in the Ukraine, and indeed form the largest segment of the total production system in number and total production.

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The result of this was that the demand for potatoes rose significantly in the autumn of 2019 already. Thus, sellers managed to raise their prices from UAH 9/kg (33 cents US) in September to UAH 10/kg (37 cents US) in October.

After that, traders tried to satisfy the market demand through imports from out of country, with Russia and Belarus as the main suppliers. In March-April they were joined by Poland and the Netherlands. Furthermore, due to a crisis in the European HoReCa segment, even Belgium started shipping processing potatoes to the Ukrainian fresh market.

Fruit-Inform points out that the Ukrainian market fully depended on imported potatoes the past season, and Ukraine’s imports of potatoes reached record high figures in the autumn and spring of 2020. As a result of significant imports, potato prices did not rise during the traditional long term storage period. Prices reached a low of UAH 7/kg (26 US cents) in January-March 2020, and the average price at the end of April stood at UAH 8/kg (30 US cents).

As a result, potatoes in April (end of storage period) were less expensive than in September-October (beginning of storage period). Moreover, due to the devaluation of the Ukrainian monetary unit (the hryvnia), the difference between those prices in US dollar terms is even more pronounced.

Fruit-Inform further reports that Russian potato production has significantly grown during the autumn of 2019. However, prices did not fall much during the storage period thanks to record high export volumes of Russian potatoes during this time period.

In addition to the Ukraine, Russia actively shipped potatoes to Moldova, Belarus, the Caucasian states and the Central Asian Republic. In fact, Russian potatoes accounted for the largest share of supply of potatoes in the markets of Ukraine, Moldova, and Uzbekistan during the main part of the storage period.

As a result, such active exports resulted in a significant price rise during the storage season. In September 2019 average price in Moscow stood at RUB 9-10/kg (12/13 US cents) and by April 2020, it almost doubled to RUB 17-18/kg (24/25 US cents).

Source: Fruit-Inform
Photo: Russian potato harvest 2019 | Tectron – YouTube video

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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