Exports of Greek fruits and vegetables to Ukraine remain “frozen” at a time when the industry is deeply concerned about the consequences of being diverted to EU cargo destined for this market.
According to INCOFRUIT Hellas Special Advisor George Polichronakis, after the start of the war, the export of Greek fruits and vegetables to Ukraine ceased, and, as you know, we do not export directly to Russia due to the embargo in force since August 2014.
In January, Belarus (through which Greece supplied its products to Russia) imposed an embargo on imports of 8-9 million tons of fruits and vegetables per year, including 1 million tons from the EU. “With the imposition of sanctions and banking restrictions, as well as the suspension of container traffic, much of the international fresh food activity in these destinations is likely to be cancelled. A 45% ruble devaluation and uncertainty will make Russian companies unreliable and unpredictable for exporters targeting the Russian market,” says Mr. Polichronakis.
“There are serious concerns about the reorientation to Europe of volumes originally planned for these destinations,” he said, at a time when “the declining purchasing power of European consumers is already being taken seriously by the industry as the balance between energy tariffs and food prices is upset. In Europe, there has been a decrease in the consumption of fresh products by an average of 10%.This fact must be taken into account.”
The situation has worsened over the last week. Exports last week (25/02-4/03/22) showed a decline of -18.1% after -11.4%. “After processing temporary data on exports for the three days of March 7-10, 2022, compared to the corresponding year 2021, there is a decrease in exports: kiwi in all directions by -41.4%, by -42.7% for tangerines and by -54.1% for oranges.
Companies specializing in exports to Romania showed a decrease of -51% for tangerines and -39% for oranges, and to Serbia -65% and -52%, respectively. We have a similar effect on exports to Poland: -92% for oranges and -65% for kiwi. Naturally, everything has already been stopped in Ukraine and Belarus.
“Unfortunately, in this situation, any cargo that goes to the markets of our customers cannot be coordinated in delivery due to the ban on Greek highways,” explains Mr. Polichronakis. The consequences of the Russian embargo have been a significant loss of the first market outside the EU for the Greek fruit and vegetable sector. In 2013, prior to the embargo, imports of Greek fruits and vegetables to Russia amounted to a total of 140,961 tons worth €164.481 million, covering a wide range of products.
Based on this data and outlook, INCOFRUIT Hellas has proposed the following measures to address the market turmoil following the Russian invasion of Ukraine:
1) Supporting President Macron’s resilience agenda by strengthening the resilience of the agri-food sector and boosting production amid the crisis.
2) Establishment of a single fund (based on the model of a single energy fund) that will support European farmers and companies against rising costs due to the cost of fertilizers, pesticides and feed, as well as standardization of packaging materials, processing and transport costs, which will be below sales prices and will be formed due to oversupply and underconsumption. They need to be reduced to be able to adapt to adjusted retail prices.
3) Parallel activation of the envisaged policy of the OPK “Fruits and Vegetables” to combat market crises, to unload the supply in the retail trade in fresh fruits and vegetables.
4) Review of the import regime by strengthening the control of third countries in the EU.
5) Accelerate the announcement and rapid evaluation of measure 4.2.1 in order to upgrade the mechanical equipment of packaging, standardization, refrigeration and storage facilities of processing enterprises and improve their costs by increasing competitiveness.
Strawberry exports plummeted
According to Mr. Polichronakis, “strawberry exports fell sharply and for 01.01-11.03.2022 is 10,865 tons compared with 14,233 tons last year due to their limited movement to Russia through other Member States, and tomatoes to 6826 tons compared to 8322 tons last year.
Exports of oranges, tangerines, apples decreased significantly
For oranges since the new year, the export flow is very low, demand is lower, consumption is also lower, and prices are even lower. In some important citrus growing areas, mainly in the eastern Peloponnese, as a result of the snowfall on 24 January and subsequent frosts, fruit damage is estimated to be high and significant damage to trees has been recorded. The export of apples continues at a low pace, from 01.09 to 11.03.22 their exports amount to 43,099 tons – only 27.7% compared to last year.
Kiwi export increased
From 01/09/2021 to 11/03/2022, cargo declarations for the export-transportation of kiwi were registered in MENO, which concerned 157,349 tons, an increase of 10.6%, of which to third countries outside the EU – 46,116 tons, those. 29.3%, in total compared to 39,225 tons last year.”