Russia's Chinese apple imports hit record low
Russian government statistics show the country's imports of Chinese apples hit a record low of 104,000 metric tons (MT) from July 2012 to April 2013.
RK Marketing general director Irina Koziy told www.freshfruitportal.com this 7% drop followed a trend of the past few years, as the product has become more expensive and outpaced by Polish and Moldovan competition.
"Chinese apple exports to Russia have been declining for the last four or five years, while Poland has increased its share significantly with almost 49% of the import market in 2012," she said.
"In 2010 the Chinese share was 13.8%, in 2011 it was 12.5% and in 2012 it was 10.3%, so it's going down and down. I remember in 2007 when they had something like almost 30% of the market share."
She mentions that back then, China was number one with about double the volume of Poland.
"Chinese apples started to be quite expensive as first of all they have increased labor costs. They've also improved the processing facilities with better sorting packaging and so on, but it's raised the cost of apples.
"I think there will be a certain share of Chinese apples in the market anyway, just because the Fuji is a special type of apple. I know they grow the Fuji apple in the United States, but they're a completely different segment and the U.S. only has less than 1% of the market at this point.
She said Moldova was the second-largest supplier with an 11.5% share last year, while Serbia had also made an impact in recent years with a low cost product. The Balkan nation had about an 8.5% share in 2011, but last year's large Polish crop cut that down to 4.8%.
"Russia is a very flexible market and things like a high crop in Poland have a significant influence. Last year apples consumed some shares of the market from citrus and bananas in the low cost segment also.
"It's very difficult to predict what exactly is going to happen or how the market is going to move, but the total volume of apples shipped to Russia is quite significant and is going to be so as apples are the favorite fruit of Russian consumers."
Photo: Wikimedia Commons