80% of Fruit and Veg Shipments to Far East Russia Arrive Through Manzhouli

80% of fruits and vegetables on the tables of residents of the Far East of Russia are supplied through the Manzhouli/Manchuria/Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region bordering the Trans-Baikal region of Russia, according to the local customs service.

Statistics show that by the end of the first half of 2018, the volume of agricultural exports from China to Russia via Manzhouli grew by 22.1 percent year-on-year, reaching a value of 1.44 billion yuan (about $ 209 million).

The value of fruit exports amounted to 650 million yuan (94.2 million dollars), which is 110 percent more than in the previous year. Meanwhile, vegetables shipments were worth 597 million yuan (86.5 million dollars), 13.1 percent less than in 2017.

The growing demand for fruits and vegetables on the Russian market, according to experts, is due to the improvement of the country’s economic situation and the increase in the purchasing power of its population.

The period of greatest demand for agricultural products in the Far East of Russia will be that from October to May next year. Manzhouli enjoys great advantages for the supply of fruits and vegetables to Russia due to its geographical location.

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Russia Became World’s Second Largest Banana Importer Last Year

In 2017, fresh fruit and vegetable imports into Russia grew by 17% compared to the previous year and amounted to 7.1 million MT. Of this volume, 22% corresponded to bananas, 20% to citrus fruits, 10% to apples and 7% to tomatoes. Last year, Russia became the world’s second-largest banana importer (1.5 million MT), losing first place to the US and overtaking Germany. Also, there was a significant increase in the supply of mandarins, watermelons, celery and avocados.

The agency’s experts associate the growth of imports with the lifting of restrictions on the import of Turkish products, a record import of Ecuadorian bananas, and the establishment of relations with China, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Moldova.

The largest supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables last year was Ecuador, which accounted for 21% of the total volume of Russian imports in this category. Almost all imports from this country consisted of bananas, which, according to the FCS, stood at 1.4 million MT; 11% more than a year earlier. The second largest supplier was Turkey, which accounts for 14% of all Russian fresh fruit and vegetable imports. In fact, Russia absorbs one third of Turkey’s total fruit and vegetable exports. According to the Federal Customs Service, Turkey’s most important export product in 2017 was citrus fruits, with almost 600 thousand MT shipped, mainly in the fourth quarter of 2017. The Russian market also purchased Turkish grapes, peaches, nectarines and apricots.

In third place was China, whose share is 10%. The most important Chinese products were tomatoes, with sales volumes increasing by 26%, to 109 thousand MT, as well as apples (with a 13% drop, down to 100 thousand tonnes). China also supplied onions, mandarins, cabbage, grapefruit, bell peppers, carrots and pears. As noted earlier by the press service of the FCS, the physical volume vegetable imports from China increased by an average of 1.4 times.

Imports from Belarus, which ranked fourth, dropped to 540 thousand MT, compared to 630 thousand MT in 2016 and 1.1 million MT in 2015. The main Belorussian products exported were peaches and nectarines (88,000 MT), tomatoes (70,000 MT), pears (77,000 MT), potatoes (51,000 MT) and apples (47,000 MT).

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Russian fruit and vegetable imports partially recovered

When compared to the previous year, Russian imports of fresh fruit and vegetables have increased considerably over the last year. A total of 7,1 million MT was imported, 17% more than in 2016. It is, however, not nearly as much as in 2013. In the year before the boycott came into force, Russia imported almost 8,5 million MT of fresh fruit and vegetables.

The (partial) recovery of the imports is, firstly, due to the boycott of various Turkish products being lifted in 2017. In addition, a record volume of (Ecuadorian) bananas and products from other countries were imported. The most important of these countries are China, Egypt, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. The record volume of banana imports is particularly noticeable. Last year, Russia surpassed Germany and is now the second largest importer of bananas in the world, besides the United States. Russia also imported a record volume of mandarins, it’s second most popular import product. Russia is by far this product’s most important import country. Russia’s import volumes of all other regularly consumed products also rose in 2017. This country’s import volumes of lesser-known products, such as kaki, garlic, watermelon, celery, avocado, and mangoes, also reached record highs in the past year. (more…)

Food Imports Increased in 2017 Pushed by Fruit and Veg Purchases

The import of food into Russia increased by 6% in 2017, according to data from the Federal Customs Service.

There hadn’t been growth for several years. After the collapse of the rouble and the introduction of the import ban in 2014, the import of products had been greatly reduced. In 2016, the country imported 20% less food than two years earlier.

The main reason why this trend is changing is due to the fact that Russia has been importing more fruit and vegetables.

“The import of fruit has grown due to the greater volumes of cherries and grapes from Turkey, bananas from Ecuador or citrus fruits from South Africa,” explained the Federal Customs Service.

Besides, several countries which are not subject to sanctions have also increased the sale of vegetables to Russia.

Experts say that the stronger rouble is also helping boost imports. The cost of foreign products is declining, and consumption is increasing. This indicates that foreign vegetables are not being replaced by domestic ones, but that people have been eating more vegetables and fruits, so suppliers have been buying more.

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Chinese Fruits and Vegetables Dominate Sales in Russia

Three years ago Russia implemented punitive measures against European countries and the United States of America. Later they also carried out sanctions against Turkish products. Against this background, Chinese fruits and vegetables have started occupying sales counters in Russia. According to the customs office of the Russian Federation, Chinese fruits and vegetables had only held 9.6% of the market shares in Russia, but this has grown by almost 20% in the first half of this year. The Chinese potential is huge.

Due to the climate and the use of all kinds of technologies, the crops grown in China are more abundant than those of many other countries. The produced vegetables and fruits respectively take up 60% and 30% of the global output. Only for potatoes, the yearly Chinese output has reached up to somewhere between 60 million and 70 million tons, which is more than twice the output of Russia itself. Many sorts of Chinese products have started increasing their market shares on the Russian market, among these is the Chinese cabbage’s increased from 25% to 39%. Some products have nearly monopolized the Russian market. Garlic, for example, holds 80% of the market share. Currently, Russian importers have been paying more and more attention to Chinese products.

Cheap prices are one of the main reasons why Chinese goods are becoming increasingly popular. Chinese producers can provide cheaper products than competitors in other countries. As a matter of fact, the amount of Chinese products crossing Russian sales counters is a lot larger than was indicated by the customs office. In the most recent 10 years, Chinese people have started growing large amounts of vegetables within the Russian borders. The main Chinese plantations are located in Siberia or in the region around the Ural mountains. Chinese communities can be found throughout almost all agricultural regions in Russia. The output of these farms that are operated by Chinese growers is a multiple of the output of farms in China, but the price for products is a lot lower.

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Pakistani Exports to Russia Increase by 10%

Pakistan’s exports to Russia increased by 10 percent in June, 2017 as compared to May 2017, which showed positive sign for enhancing the trade ties between the two countries.

Pakistan and Russia have agreed to sign Free Trade Agreement for increasing bilateral trade and improving long term economic ties, said senior official of Ministry of commerce here on Thursday.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin during his meeting with then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) offered the agreement, which Pakistan accepted,” he added.

He said the trade turnover between Russia and Pakistan has slightly increased and both of the countries have huge potential for economic cooperation in future, he said.

He said that Pakistan is exploring Russian markets to boost exports of food products to take advantage of the vacuum created after Moscow banned food imports from European countries.

The official said that Pakistani citrus, rice, potatoes and mangoes are making their way into the Russian market.

He said Pakistan had huge opportunity to export fresh meat and poultry, vegetables which include carrot, cabbage and beet-root, and fruits including dates, dry fruits, apple and plum in Russian market.

The government is committed to support Pakistani exporters for gaining facilities to increase excess and competitiveness in the Russian markets.

Both sides were also willing to sign Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) before the FTA to get excess to Russian market for enhancing trade facilities to the exporters.

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Russia increased fruit and veg imports from Egypt

In the first half of this year, Russians imported about 362.5 thousand tonnes of fruit and vegetables from Egypt, compared to 310.5 thousand tonnes in the same period a year earlier. During 2015, the total volume purchased by Russia from Egypt reached 364.7 thousand tonnes, reports FAMMU/FAPA, based on data from Factsheet Russia.

The most imported products from Egypt between January and June this year were oranges, with 250.3 thousand tonnes, and onions, with 79.5 thousand tonnes. For comparison, in the corresponding first six months of the previous year, the volume of oranges purchased reached 201.5 thousand tonnes and that of onions stood at 91.4 thousand tonnes.

Besides these, Russians also imported almost 10 thousand tonnes of Egyptian mandarins, nearly 6 thousand tonnes of grapes and about 3.5 thousand tonnes of lemons, tomatoes and garlic.

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Moldovan agricultural exports to Russia on the rise

The trade turnover between Moldova and Russia in 2016 has increased thanks to a significant growth in the number of deliveries of Moldovan agricultural products to the Russian market.

This was stated by the Minister of Agriculture of Russia, Alexander Tkachev, during a working meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry of Moldova, Eduard Grama, held in Moscow during the exhibition “Golden Autumn”, reports NOI.md.

Tkachev noted the positive dynamics of the trade turnover between the two countries, stressing that bilateral trade has increased by almost 21% compared to the same period last year, with the supply of traditional Moldovan agricultural products, namely apples, pears, quinces, apricots, plums and cherries, up by more than 27%.

During the meeting it was noted that the significant increase in the volume of Moldovan agricultural products since the beginning of 2016 has been mainly due to the active work of the supervisory agencies of the two countries.

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Import temporary suspension of Egyptian fruit and vegetables to Russia starts on September 22

Russia announced a temporary suspension of imports of fruit and vegetables from Egypt beginning on September 22.

Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) did not disclose a full list of products that would be banned, but is is said that the list included citrus, tomato and potato. The official reason for the ban is “systematic breach of international and phytosanitary requirements” in “massive supplies” of Egyptian fruit and vegetables shipped to Russia.

Russia is one of Egypt’s top export markets for fruit. It sold some $350 million in agricultural commodities last year to Russia, including 400,000 MT of oranges, or 30% of its total orange exports, the trade ministry statement said.

Russia’s decision to suspend imports of fruit and vegetables from Egypt is not a counter-measure against Cairo’s rejection of Russia’s wheat, Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as saying on Tuesday. Before that Egypt rejected 60,000 MT wheat shipment from Russia due to issues with ergot fungus.

The ban will have no impact on Russia’s inflation, Dvorkovich said, according to TASS and RIA news agencies.

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Russian producers against Iranian fruit and veg imports

Russian fruit and vegetable producers have showed their opposition to the import of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and carrots from Iran under a simplified customs procedure with reduced duties. In the first half of 2017, a free trade zone between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Russia, is expected to come into force.

Back in June, it was revealed that Russia may create a temporary free trade area (FTA) with Iran in the first half of 2017, lasting until 2020, leading to a reduction of customs duties for Iranian goods. A list has subsequently been prepared that features all products whose supply to Russia is a priority for Iran.

This list includes cucumbers and gherkins, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and other vegetables; canned tomatoes, fresh garlic, onions, shallots, apples, trout, dry milk, meat, chicken and offal, oil palm substitutes for ocoa butter, white sugar, chewing gum and apple juice.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture, which has carried out a risk analysis on the impact of an increase in the import of certain categories of goods from Iran, has been asked by the National Union of fruit and vegetable producers to withdraw tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and carrots from the free trade regime.

The Association emphasizes that, in the framework of the state programme for the development of domestic agriculture, producers are facing many challenges, starting with the construction of about 1.3 thousand hectares of modern greenhouses up until 2020.

They recall that the programme was launched in 2013. According to the National Union of producers of fruits and vegetables, the construction of these greenhouses started in an area of 100 hectares at a cost of 20 billion roubles.

The viability of these modern greenhouse complexes will rely on the seasonal prices for the products in autumn and spring. In the summer, producers have been operating at a loss and selling their products below cost, and “shipments of imported products grown in milder climates have a direct impact on prices,” stated the producers.

According to the Association, the production of potatoes and carrots is currently actively developing in Russia. For example, potato production in 2015 amounted to 7.6 million tonnes and increased by 22% compared to 2014; meanwhile, the carrot production amounted to 713 thousand tonnes in 2015, 25% up compared to 2014. “This increase is due to the introduction of modern technologies of cultivation and storage, which requires a considerable investment by agricultural producers,” said the Association of Producers in a letter.