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Raspberry boom turns into oversupply for Ukrainian producersAfter frosts caused shortages in Poland and Serbia, traders wondered if Ukrainian raspberries would be enough to bridge the gap, causing prices for frozen raspberries to rise from August-October 2017, with European companies agreeing to buy the fruits at 1.1 EUR / kg, while the prices for extra class raw materials exceeded 1.8 EUR / kg.
What seemed like a great situation for Ukrainian producers quickly changed at the beginning of winter, when it appeared that the information on the lack of raw materials had been exaggerated. Currently, frozen raspberry stocks are much higher than a year ago, with pricing decreasing by 30% over the past 3-4 months.
Marianna Vakulchyk, managing partner of All Berry, reacted to the situation; "We are really shocked by the situation on the market for frozen raspberries. In the autumn, Polish companies contracted large volumes of frozen raspberries, and now they refuse to buy them. In fact, today only raspberries and currants were stuck in our cold stores. Cherries, blueberries and strawberries were sold out instantly. If stocks are not sold out by mid-summer, we will have to reduce the purchase of fresh raspberries in 2018 and substantially increase the quality requirements for raw materials, as processing enterprises currently have problems with selling products from raw materials of low quality."
The "raspberry boom" started in Ukraine around 3 years ago. In addition to blueberries, the raspberry remains one of the leaders in terms of production expansion. Under normal weather conditions, the productivity of plantations in the coming years are expected to increase, along with competition between producers.
"Only suppliers of quality raspberries can count on stable sales, moreover, such producers must be able to control the cost of production through increased productivity. Under such conditions, the need for seasonal workers will be lower, but the conditions for seasonal workers should not be worse than in Poland," comments Tetiana Hetman, from Info-Shuvar.
The increase of the share of professional players in Ukrainian raspberry business is nothing new and has become a fairly clear trend. According to the companies that specialize in the sale of planting material, orders from farms have decreased significantly this season because of low prices after quality issues, however, it´s been reported that seedling sales for professional plantations have increased significantly.
Tetiana shared that the success of the raspberry business depends not only on the professionalism of producers, but also their processing capacities, which have not been growing as fast as the growth of plantations. However, the demand from Polish processors may well offset this problem in Ukraine.
Almost all of the frozen raspberries were sold to EU countries this season. According to data from Info-Shuvar, Ukraine exported a record volume of frozen raspberries - 8.7 thousand tons, from July 2017 to January 2018. Last season during the same period, 6.3 thousand tons of exports had been reported. Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic have become the main buyers with a share of total exports, with 68%, 8% and 7% respectively.
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