Import substitution, which is so much talked about in Russia, has so far not yielded tangible results in the field of horticulture. Despite the very rapid expansion of the area of orchards and an increase in the volume of domestic production of apples, imports of these fruits continue to grow steadily.
In the first two months of 2019, Russia imported 11% more apples than in the same period last year. Moreover, the January volume of apple imports exceeded 161 thousand tons and was the highest since 2015, when, by the way, they were comparable to these volumes.
Four consecutive years of falling real incomes
In order to understand how much more apples Russia actually imports, it is necessary to take into account that since 2015 apple consumption in the country has decreased due to four consecutive years of falling real incomes of Russian citizens and the rise in prices of products due to the devaluation of the ruble and the increase in VAT on fruits.
Experts explain this phenomenon easily; the Russian apple is of an inferior quality to its imported counterparts, so the consumer is simply not interested in it. Therefore, Russian growers are forced to sell a significant amount of crop for processing needs at bargain prices. Fortunately, the domestic market for apple concentrate is still quite capacious, and even low, according to Russian growers, prices for industrial apple are relatively high for other countries, such as Ukraine, Poland and Moldova.
However, this situation calls into question the prospects for further investment in new gardens in Russia. Protective measures, as practice shows, can do a disservice to Russian growers. After all, consumers demand quality products, which they mostly cannot yet provide.
And according to east-fruit.com¸ even a ban on the supply of apples from the EU, the USA and Ukraine, which can give a really high-quality product, does not guarantee any protection. As soon as the apple re-export channel closes through Belarus, the import of apples to Russia from non-sub-Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Georgia immediately grows. By the way, these countries became the leaders in the growth rate of apple supplies to the Russian market in the first two months of 2019.