The Ukrainian apple exports have declined by 38 per cent, according to the Ukrainian Agricultural Export Association. The coronavirus plays a big role in this decline, as it has led to increased freight rates and sometimes even a complete top of an apple supply program to a specific country in South East Asia.
Ukraine has had to deal with the coronavirus, just like the rest of Europe. The government has taken serious steps in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, says Volodymyr Gurzhiy, CEO of USPA Fruit. The company imports and exports apples and berries among other non fresh produce commodities. In Ukraine several measures have been taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Air traffic from and towards other countries was suspended on March 17 and on the 18th domestic passenger traffic was also stopped, as well as limiting all public transport. In some cities the public transport even completely discontinued.
The measures have naturally taken a toll on the fruit trade as well. As in the rest of the world, freight rates are rising significantly, Gurzhiy explains: “The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the world and the introduction of these unprecedented quarantine measures in Ukraine led to us being forced to limit or completely discontinue the Ukrainian apple supply programs to many countries in South East Asia. In addition, due to the reduction in the volume of deliveries, the rates for shipping by sea increased significantly. Rates have gone up by at least 40 and sometimes even 50 per cent. All these factors led to the largest decline in Ukrainian apple exports, which amounted to 38 per cent, according to the Ukrainian Agricultural Export Association.”
Gurzhiy emphasizes that the apple season was going to be challenging even without the virus spreading through Europe. “The supply season for the apples of 2019/20 turned out to be quite difficult for Ukrainian exporters. We’ve faced difficult weather conditions, a decrease in the quality of the apples and the total yield, as well as a rise in the Ukrainian currency. This has led to an increase in demand for apples and the establishment of high prices on the domestic market, as well as a serious decrease in apple exports.”
USPA Fruit has anticipated challenges ahead of the coronavirus, and has been able to deal with the situation to its best abilities: “Despite the instability in the world and fruit markets, we’ve been able to expand our deliveries to the African market and increase the volume of our own apple exports compared to the previous season. We’ve managed to achieve these results thanks to the aggregation of a large volume of high-quality apples in Ukraine and reliable service for customers, compliance with their own apple supply standards.” Gurzhiy concludes.