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Rising strawberry prices in Russia due to economic and geopolitical factors

Strawberries, in Russia, have experienced a 20% price increase and now cost 6.15 euros per kilogram and up. This increase in cost is part of a broader trend of rising fruit and berry prices across the country. Both fresh and canned fruits, including strawberries, cherries, apricots, and peaches, have become 15% more expensive.

Experts predict that the price of berries could rise by up to 30% this season. The main concern is not just the recent frosts that damaged crops from Tula to Krasnodar, but the overall economic situation. Higher production costs and the falling value of the ruble are major factors. Additionally, supply chain disruptions have complicated the acquisition of essential agricultural inputs.

Geopolitical issues and sanctions impact strawberry prices more significantly than weather conditions. A substantial portion of the berries and fruit in Russian markets is imported. For example, half of the apples sold are imported, and 90% of pears, stone fruits, cherries, and apricots come from abroad. Strawberries are mainly imported from Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt. Despite the advantages of locally grown produce, which is fresher and tastier, domestic berry availability remains limited.

A few years ago, locally grown berries were almost absent in stores, but now, imports account for 75%. However, domestic berry farming still faces significant challenges. Industrial-scale berry farming heavily relies on fertilizers, particularly specific water-soluble complexes. Although Russia produces many fertilizers, the components often come from abroad, adding to costs.

Establishing a berry farm requires substantial investment. For instance, setting up an open-field strawberry farm can cost, 20500 to 30800 euros. Growing berries in tunnels cost 20-30 million rubles (EUR 205,000-308,000) for the same area. Heated greenhouses are even more expensive. Despite mechanization, berry harvesting is labour-intensive and must be done by hand to avoid damaging the fruit.

Gardeners are hopeful about crops like blackcurrants and cherries, but currently, only a few farms are investing in these ventures. Bank financing is nearly impossible to secure, as it would drive berry prices even higher than the anticipated 20-30% increase. This array of challenges means consumers should expect significantly higher prices for strawberries and other berries this season.


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