Shocking Stats: Bulgaria's Fresh Produce Imports Dwarf Exports

Industry | June 19, 2024, Wednesday // 12:14|  views

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Bulgaria continues to export fresh fruits and vegetables despite the prevalent perception that most of these goods are not locally produced. Ministry of Agriculture data from last year reveals that Bulgaria exported nearly 100,000 tons of fresh produce, with fruits accounting for over 70,000 tons and vegetables for the remaining 39,000 tons.

On the flip side, imports far surpass exports, totaling nearly 300,000 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables last year alone. The trend continued into early 2024, with January and February seeing imports of 64,000 tons and 68,000 tons, respectively.

The majority of fresh fruit imports in 2023 came from Greece (42.1%) and Turkey (24.1%), with notable contributions also from Ecuador, North Macedonia, and Poland. Particularly striking was Turkey's impressive increase in cherry exports to Bulgaria, soaring from 460 tons in 2022 to 5,506 tons in 2023. Meanwhile, North Macedonia primarily supplied apples, although their overall volume dropped by 21.4% compared to the previous year.

The rise in fresh vegetable imports in 2023 was driven largely by increased supplies of tomatoes (up by 8.8 thousand tons or 9.8%), sweet peppers (up by 3.8 thousand tons or 14.2%), cucumbers (up by 3.7 thousand tons or 17%), and potatoes (up by 1.9 thousand tons or 4%). Conversely, imports of gherkins and cabbage saw declines of 46.5% and 26.1%, respectively, compared to the previous year. Carrots and onions also experienced a slight decrease of about 4%.

Turkey and Greece remained the leading suppliers of fresh vegetables to Bulgaria in 2023, accounting for 40% and 21.9% of imports, respectively. They were followed by Germany, Poland, France, North Macedonia, and others.

In terms of exports, Bulgarian companies predominantly shipped fresh vegetables to EU countries, amounting to 38.6 thousand tons in 2023, a 3.2% increase from the previous year. However, exports to non-EU countries plummeted to just 675 tons, marking a significant 38.2% decline.

Regarding fresh fruits, Bulgaria saw a decrease in exports primarily due to lower watermelon shipments, which fell by 8.7 thousand tons or 38.8%. Apricots and plums also experienced sharp declines of 86.1% and 68.8%, respectively, while strawberries decreased slightly by 1.4%. On the other hand, exports of cherries and grapes surged year-on-year, along with modest increases in apples (3.1%) and peaches (4.3%).

The export destinations are often displaced by Moldova, Ukraine, or competitors within the EU, making it challenging for native Bulgarian businesses to maintain their market share in certain produce categories.

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Tags: Bulgaria, fruits, export, vegetables

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