Serbia: An apple a day...

The market is changing and Europe just had a good apple harvest again. Serbian farmers must adapt.

Red apples
©Javier Balseiro

Apples are an important export product of Serbia since apple orchards count for one-third of Serbia’s fruit production. Now the apple harvest is almost over and the first signs are showing higher yields, an increase of approximately 5%  y-o-y.

Serbian apple expert and professor at the Faculty of Agriculture in Novi Sad, Zoran Keserovic, forecasts that Serbia will have between 530 thousand and 540 thousand metric tons of apples this year and  assumes that total export of fruit in 2021 could be between 550 and 560 million dollars, which is only slightly less than in 2020.

He furthermore stated for daily Politika that Serbian apple producers will face serious competition on traditional export markets. Only producers with high quality produce can count on fast sales and good prices. Apple growers throughout Europe had a good year as well, and are expecting 10% higher yields, totaling 11.3 million tons of produce in the EU.

There are also a lot of  unsold apples from last year: more than 200 thousand tons of "golden delicacy" are in stock in Italy alone, and larger quantities of Idared are stored in Poland. "That is why I expect a difficult year and I think that any price higher than 30 euro cents per kilogram is good. In that case, if possible, apples should be sold ", explains the professor.

Currently there is a standstill on the market. That can be a problem for producers with no storage capacities. "For others who have refrigerators/cold storages, and in Serbia there are plenty, my recommendation would be to store apples," said the professor.

Exploring new markets and export possibilities is a must. Russian apple plantations built in the last several years are starting to bear fruit now. The export price of 65 – 75 euro cents that Serbian growers were getting per kg of apples is a distant past. The honeymoon is over. Serbian growers should consider exports to Middle-Eastern and African markets. The European market is now an option only for the producers of the highest-quality produce: Farmers who apply the integral concept of production where the protection of the environment and the health of consumers are taken into account.

The fruit growers in Čačak, central Serbia, have been delivering their products to the Russian market for years. But as the climate and geopolitics are changing, Serbian fruits mostly end up in the Middle East. This year, for the first time “Red delicacy” from Čačak is being exported to India. "I did business with Russia for years, but as time went by, they became over-demanding and started returning the trucks.  This year my fruit will end up on the Indian market. Negotiations are underway and it is a matter of days when they will confirm the quantities, time and place of delivery. They are mainly interested in the red varieties of apples", said Darko Topalović, a fruit grower from the village of Miokovci.

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What else is new?

We at the Budapest-Belgrade LAN team publish newsflashes for you every Friday afternoon. These are quick, digestible, to-the-point briefings about all the latest developments in the Serbian and Hungarian agro sectors.

Today we bring you:

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In this week’s Hungary Newsflash, you can find out more about a new breakthrough in climate change research, the issues with rising crop cultivation input costs, the continuing struggles of the pig sector, and the coming investment surge in the agro business scene.

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In the latest Serbia Newsflash, you can read about the issue of annual climate losses, a new foreign investment into the country’s confectionary industry, international trade streamlining, the transformation of the bakery industry, subsidies for rural living, and the €9 billion Green Deal funds for Serbia.