Although the harvesting of potatoes in Ukrainian farms is still ongoing in most regions, the regional trade is unusually active, according to EastFruit, an information and analytics platform for the growth of the horticulture business.
According to a recently published article, Ukraine exports potatoes to Serbia and Belarus but imports spuds from Moldova.
The analysts say that this is an unusual situation, primarily because Moldova has traditionally been the main potato market for Ukrainian potato growers.
Packaged, calibrated, washed potatoes were normally supplied from Ukraine to Moldova, the demand for which was high among supermarket chains in the country, and in Moldova, none of the growers had the capacity for post-harvest handling for potatoes.
But the situation changed in the 2020-2021 marketing season, during which potato prices in Moldova turned out to be extremely low due to cheap imports from the European Union (EU). Moreover, this situation has been associated with a shortage of demand for potatoes due to lockdowns and restaurant closings.
“However, growers in Moldova did not reduce the area planted with potatoes, as they used remains of unsold marketable potatoes as planting material,” EastFruit’s experts added. As a result, potato prices in Moldova are now the lowest in the region – even lower than in Poland.
Moldavian Potatoes Must be Sold
Even so, the Moldavian tubers grown this year should be sold. One of the sales markets for potato growers in northern Moldova is the border regions of Ukraine because there the prices are now noticeably higher than in Moldova and the demand is quite high, too.
However, added the EastFruit experts, it is only part of the story of the Ukrainian potato market.
“It turns out that the western regions of Ukraine, where a good harvest of potatoes has grown this year, are now exporting to the Balkan countries, primarily to Serbia, where potato prices are significantly higher. Potatoes from this region are also exported to Belarus, where prices are higher than in Ukraine,” they explained.
The most interesting fact is that potato prices in Poland are lower than in Ukraine but much higher (by 70%) than a year earlier. Local growers and traders consider them high and even expect a shortage of potatoes in the 2021-2022 season. Poland is looking for opportunities to import potatoes from other countries now, during harvesting.
Belarus is also actively importing potatoes this season, despite the harvest still being in progress.
“This is unusual, but it is explained by the poor potato harvest in the country. Therefore, potatoes are purchased from other countries, including Ukraine. Since the difference in prices between the two countries is not that large, potatoes on the Belarusian market mainly come from the northern regions of Ukraine. At the same time, farmers of these regions report poor potato harvest and a shift in its timing,” according to the article.
Ukraine now trades in potatoes with unexpected countries. Therefore, it is possible that the new potato season will bring many more surprises to the potato market participants.