The Fruit and Vegetable Union of Russia asked the Ministry of Agriculture to ban the import of tomatoes for a period of two months in order to prevent the deterioration of the situation of domestic vegetable producers. This was reported by TASS, citing a copy of the letter sent by the union on Sunday, April 5.
The authors of the letter believe that due to the devaluation of the ruble and the spread of COVID-19, as well as the introduction of a self-isolation regime in Russia, greenhouse vegetable producers are among the most affected in the agricultural industry, since they cannot stop their productions and their vegetables are not included in the list of most demanded essential products (cereals, pasta, canned food, etc.).
It is highlighted that the demand has already fallen sharply and wholesale prices for cucumbers and tomatoes have dropped by up to 50% compared to 2019. The current wholesale prices for these vegetables are making the greenhouse business unprofitable. At the same time, imported tomatoes come to the domestic market. Their share in terms of volume amounted to 52% in 2019.
According to the fruit and vegetable union, in the period between January and March 2020, more than 79 thousand tons of tomatoes worth over $100 million were imported into Russia, mainly from Azerbaijan, Morocco, Turkey and China. The letter says that the presence of these products, together with the drop in the demand due to the self-isolation of citizens, is putting additional pressure on the wholesale price of tomatoes, and that further drops may lead to the bankruptcy of greenhouse companies.