USDA Russia: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual Report

Apples are one of the most popular and affordable fruits in Russia and with domestic production forecast to decline, imports will rebound in the 2020/2021 MY. Many commercial pear growers are replanting their orchards to apples to take advantage of this growing demand. Russia is the second-largest importer of pears and a major importer of table grapes as local production for these two fresh fruits is insufficient to meet demand. However, imports of pears and table grapes are expected to decline as the economic crisis continues and consumer purchasing power declines.

Since 2014, Russia’s countersanctions have banned fresh apple imports from Europe and the United States. This coupled with extensive support from the Government of Russia for the care and planting of new orchards has propelled investment in horticulture in recent years. In 2019, the Government of Russia financed a 311 billion Ruble (US$ 4.2 billion) support program for Russian agriculture.

Despite all this, several factors continue to constrain the development of Russia’s horticultural sector. First and foremost, Russia’s horticultural industry still lacks productive plant material. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that in 2018 Russia produced around 24 million plants (including 15 million seed fruit plants). At the same time, Russia imported 25 million plants in 2018 and 21 million plants during the first six months of 2019. Very few nursery farms cultivate planting material for commercial orchards, and as a result, the quality of the planting material in Russia remains inadequate in terms of yields, winter resistance, and drought and disease tolerance.

As the ruble continues to weaken, Russian horticultural producers continue to face very high costs for importing planting stock, and other related items for cultivation, such as crop protection agents, technology, and equipment. A lack of qualified agronomists is another factor holding back the industry.

The current Russian trend of eating healthy has led to greater fruit consumption. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, more people are paying attention to their health and eating patterns are increasingly favoring natural, healthier foods. According to analysts, the demand for vegetables and fruits increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the consumption of fruit is closely connected with household income and market prices. Russian disposable income has been declining since 2014, although there was some growth in 2018 and 2019, it is expected to drop again. In 2020, the decline in disposable income is forecast at 3 percent, according to the Ministry of Economic Development.

Full USDA report, containing information on the Russian harvest, import and consumption of apples, pear and grapes.

Russia’s Vegetable Production Has Grown by 6%

According to the operational data of the regional governing bodies of the agro-industrial complex, as of October 27, 2020, about 5.3 million mt of vegetables have been harvested in Russia, which is 6% more than in the same period of 2019.

In winter greenhouses, 1.1 million mt have been grown, which is 18.2% more than last year (930.5 thousand tons). The harvest of greenhouse cucumbers amounted to 647 thousand mt (+14.3%) and that of tomatoes to 410.1 thousand mt (+18.6%). In spring greenhouses, 1.13 million mt of vegetables have been harvested during the period at hand. Lipetsk, Moscow, Volgograd, Kaluga, Novosibirsk, the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories and the Republics of Karachay-Cherkessia, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan are among the top ten regions leading the production of vegetables in winter greenhouses.

As of the above date, 4.15 million mt of vegetables have been harvested in the open ground. The biggest share corresponds to onions (22.3%), tomatoes (18.5%), cabbage (17.8%), and carrots (13.6%).

These results are a direct consequence of the support measures implemented by the state, which have contributed to the sector’s development. Within the framework of the incentive subsidies, the constituent entities of the Russian Federation have the right to choose priority areas, which allows the regions to provide additional support to growers engaged in the production of vegetables. There are also mechanisms of grant support for producers and cooperatives and a set of other measures being implemented.

Russia is the World’s Fourth Largest Banana Consumer

Russia ranks 4th in the world in terms of banana consumption per person per year, and banana imports to Russia are forecast to continue to grow in the coming years. This was reported by Clinton Machado, head of Maersk’s Banana and Pineapple Shipping Division, at the 17th International Banana Convention.

Latin America remains the main banana exporter. The combined share of all supplies from Latin American countries is 73% of all exports. Most of the bananas grown in Latin America are exported to the United States and Europe.

“In 2019, global banana exports reached 20 million tons, up 5% compared to 2018. The Philippines and Ecuador remain the largest banana exporters in the world,” said Clinton Machado.

The main importing countries of Philippine bananas are China and Japan, but exports to these countries decreased slightly in 2019 due to the opening of trade between China and Cambodia. According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Cambodia, the export of bananas to China during the first five months of 2020 amounted to 121 thousand tons, and by 2021 the country plans to double the volume shipped.

“According to the forecasts of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the world’s banana production will increase to 126 million tons by 2029,” Clinton Machado added.

India is the world’s largest banana producer, but most Indian bananas are intended for the domestic market. According to Clinton Machado, government investment in the industry has allowed Indian producers to export more of their products, and if this initiative is successful, India will be able to supply bananas to the Middle East and Mediterranean regions.