Following the markets of Russia and Belarus, potatoes began to rise in price in Uzbekistan as well. Over the past two weeks, average wholesale prices for potatoes from the 2021 harvest in the country have increased by 17%, although until then they had remained stable since the beginning of August.
According to EastFruit, prices for potatoes in Uzbekistan are now at the highest level in the last three seasons and now amount to 3,500 soums/kg ($0.33 per kg). In 2020, at this time, prices for potatoes did not exceed 3,000 soums/kg ($0.29), and in 2019 – 2,200 soums/kg ($0.23).
At the same time, if in previous seasons in October the increase in prices for potatoes was insignificant, and until the very end of the year there was no significant increase in price levels, then in 2021 the situation is completely different. It is potatoes that are the main import position of the fruit and vegetable sector in Uzbekistan. Moreover, despite all the efforts to substitute imports, the import of potatoes into the country continues to grow rapidly.
Accordingly, prices for potatoes in Uzbekistan largely depend on the level of prices for potatoes in the main supplying countries.
In previous years, the main suppliers of potatoes to Uzbekistan were Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan. Moreover, Kazakhstan accounted for 76% of supplies in 2020, and the Russian Federation – about 17%. In other words, only two countries – Russia and Kazakhstan – supplied about 93% of potatoes to Uzbekistan. At the same time, the peak of potato supplies from these countries fell precisely in September-November, that is, during the harvesting period and the maximum supply of potatoes in the markets of the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan.
However, in 2021, both in Russia and Kazakhstan, prices are high and growing rapidly. Moreover, it was previously reported about a real excitement in the Russian potato market, where prices have already reached record levels over the past few years and market participants expect further growth in potato prices.
Potato prices in Uzbekistan are now lower than in Russia and Belarus. In addition, in Belarus itself, the situation with potato prices is the same, and they are also at a record high. Accordingly, in order to intensify the import of potatoes from these countries, Uzbekistan will need to either significantly increase domestic wholesale prices for potatoes, or find alternative suppliers.
According to official data, the volume of potato production in the first half of 2021 in Uzbekistan amounted to over 1.5 million tons of potatoes, which is 3.5% more than the same period last year.