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Onion prices are rising fast in Moldova

Onion prices in Moldova started increasing in the third decade of January. Prices for onions of all quality categories have risen by 10-12%, up to 9-10 MDL/kg ($0.48-0.53/kg). Until now, the average price for onions on the Moldovan market has been 8-9 MDL/kg ($0.42-0.47/kg) since the summer. A rise in the price of onions of good quality started only in mid-January. Last week, the price rise in other segments of onions has started, including low-quality onions sold in city bazaars in bulk and from open-air stalls.

Back in April 2022, EastFruit analysts noted that, although the area of onion plantations in Moldova remained at the level of 2021, there may be not enough onions of the new harvest for the marketing season. Thanks to the active exports of onions to Ukraine in August, experts stated  that the prices for onions on the Moldovan market were the highest for this month over the past five years. Therefore, market experts advised farmers to sell onions not suitable for long-term storage to exporters from fields if the price is higher than 7 MDL/kg ($0.36/kg). That is, to get money fast and avoid paying for sorting and transportation.

Perhaps this was a reasonable advice, given the risks (associated with production, technologies, logistics and sales) in late summer – early autumn. However, the pace of onion exports did not decrease until November. By the beginning of winter, market operators say, thousands of tonnes of onions were exported from the country. Even then, the stocks of good-quality onions were very small. All participants in fruit and vegetable trade in Moldova were sure that there would be a shortage of onions in the domestic market in the second half of winter, and they would rise sharply in price.

In early February, this forecast began to come true. Some sellers in the wholesale markets in Chisinau are trying to offer the highest quality onions to retailers at 12-13 MDL/kg ($0.63-0.69/kg). There are no or very few sales at such prices, although these offers are no longer unusual, as the trend for a significant rise in onion prices has become natural.

The worst (for buyers) is the absence of cheap onions in the region – and this is not expected to change soon. In Romania and Ukraine, onions are significantly ($0.82/kg) more expensive than in Moldova. They are slightly cheaper in Poland ($0.49/kg), but given the expensive transport logistics, the price on the Moldovan market will be much higher than for local onions.

Nevertheless, most likely, imported onions will still be bought. Moldovan households are running out of food supplies for the winter. The only constraint on the growth of prices for onions, as well as other root crops of the “borsch set”, will be the low solvency of the country’s population.


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