Bulgaria remains a net importer of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes due to the country's low production and the lack of indication of significant developments in the medium term. This was said in an analysis of the sector carried out by the Center for Agricultural Research in Agriculture (CAPA) at the Institute of Agrarian Economics.
According to CAPA estimates, about 60% of the (non-processed) tomatoes available through different trade channels are imported, while for peppers and cucumbers the share of imports amounts to approximately 35%.
The analysis reveals that the steady growth of fresh tomato imports continued in 2017, with imports reaching 75.7 thousand tonnes, or 7% above the 2016 level and 141% above 2011 levels.
The authors of the analysis do not rule out a slowdown in the growth rate of imports due to the expected expansion of the greenhouse production of tomatoes in the country.
In 2014-2017, pepper imports grew, as well, and oscillated between 23.3 and 28.5 thousand tonnes. The pressure from Turkey's cheap production is one of the factors holding back growth in the country.
The loss of market positions is most noticeable for cucumbers and gherkins, with imports increasing annually since 2013, reports investor.bg.
In 2017, a record 20,400 tons of cucumbers were imported into the country. This is 59.3% more than in 2013 and 67% more than in 2007. Only 5.9 thousand tons of cucumbers were exported, which is a figure close to the ones achieved years before Bulgaria's joining of the EU. It is obvious that Bulgarian production has problems in overcoming the price competition of imports, analysts say.
The country's export earnings in 2017 stood at € 134.8 million, which is 6.9% above the 2016 level and 85.5% more than in 2007.