COVID collapsed the export of vegetables and fruits: Ukraine lost tens of millions

Ukrainian fruit and vegetable exports fell by 43% during the coronavirus pandemic (February-June) compared to the same period last year.

Apples Gadz
Beeld: ©NL Embassy in UA

During COVID period, Ukraine's revenue from exports of vegetables and fruits fell to $ 58.5 million. A year earlier during the same period, export revenues of the fruit and vegetable sector of Ukraine amounted to $ 101.3 million, according to EastFruit analysts.

Three groups of goods during this period accounted for 64% of total export earnings: walnuts, frozen berries and fruits and fresh apples. A year earlier in this period, these items accounted for 74% of all Ukrainian fruit and vegetable exports. Accordingly, the decline in exports by key export groups became the most significant - revenue from their exports decreased by exactly one and a half times compared to last year.

"Most of all during the coronavirus pandemic, the revenue from the export of Ukrainian apples decreased - 4.5 times, and this despite the fact that the average export price was much higher than last year," - said the economist of the Investment Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Andrew Yarmak, noting that high domestic prices and a shortage of apples made exports unprofitable.

It is in the export of apples for the period from February to June 2020 that Ukraine lost the largest share of export revenue compared to 2019 - about $ 26.6 million.

In second place in terms of declining export earnings in this period was the walnut. The decrease in exporters' revenue from walnut supplies abroad amounted to $ 9.4 million or 36%.

"But the situation with walnuts is radically different from the situation with apple exports. There is a clear link between the decline in exports and the global coronavirus pandemic. The season began in October 2019 with a record rate of exports and the first three months of the season gave nut growers good revenue. However, already in January 2020, when China closed to quarantine, export demand fell sharply and export earnings were consistently lower than last year. Demand for Ukrainian walnuts in Turkey has fallen sharply. Deliveries to the Middle East fell several times, which was not fully offset by the growing demand for walnuts in the EU. At the same time, average wholesale prices also decreased, which had a negative impact on revenue, ”says Andrei Yarmak.

At the same time, the decline in exports of frozen berries and fruits in February-June 2020 was less significant - $ 1.5 million or 10%. The main reason was the growth of competition in the EU market from suppliers of frozen berries from North Africa: Egypt and Morocco. This had a negative effect on prices, but overall demand for frozen berries remained quite high, and the decline in sales in the HoReCa segment was almost entirely offset by growth in retail sales.

Onions took the fourth place in terms of export revenue of Ukraine in the analyzed period. Note the increase in exports by 83% or $ 3.1 million. True, the base for comparison was low - last year at this time, Ukraine imported onions, and prices were high. This year, onion prices are significantly lower than last year, and in the new season, so far, onion prices allow us to talk about the prospects for its export.