Azerbaijani tomatoes hold top spot in Russia's ranking
Despite the fact that Russia allow imports of tomatoes from all Turkish producers from May 1, removing restrictions, Turkish vegetables have not been able to win back their leading positions: in the first five months of this year Turkey supplied 22.9 thousand tons of tomatoes to Russia, ranking 6th among the EEU countries, according to the data of the Federal Customs Service of Russia, which was confirmed by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Azerbaijan became a leader in tomato export to Russia, beating Morocco and China, which respectively was ranked second and third, RNS reported. A total of 19,766 thousand tons of Azerbaijani tomatoes were delivered to Russia in the first quarter of this year.
It is not excluded that a cruel joke in the "tomato rating" was played by Rosselkhoznadzor's regular checks. Consumers explain the changed preferences by a better quality, noting that Azerbaijani products are more delicious than Turkish ones.
The director of the center for agrarian and food policy at RANEPA, Natalia Shagaida, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, recalled that Turkish tomatoes were exported to the Russian market all year round. "There were no restrictions, and there were even fears that they partially enter the territory of Russia through Azerbaijan. Moreover, business segment is determined by price in the first place, and second, by quality. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze prices," the expert explained.
Speaking about import substitution of foreign tomatoes by Russian ones, she stressed that if we take an annual period of time, then domestic tomatoes are already leading, because Russians eat them more often. "We have a lot of them, they are relatively tasty and cheap, but this applies only to seasonal tomatoes," Natalya Shagaida said.
A research fellow at the center for agrarian and food policy at RANEPA, Vasily Uzun, said that logistics is the main factor here. "There is an agreement with Azerbaijan, sales of Azerbaijani products have increased in all stores in recent years. It has probably played a role," he said.
The expert noted that Turkish producers will do their best to remove claims for their products, since the Russian market is very important for them.
Vasily Uzun also explained that it is still early to talk about radical changes. "The Turkish tomatoes are cheap, they are competitive from December to March, when they will be cheaper than Azerbaijani ones. But now they are more expensive than tomatoes from Russia or from the near abroad. The situation will change in winter," the expert said.
Speaking about Russian tomatoes, he pointed out that, according to the calculations of the center for agrarian and food policy at RANEPA, domestic producers are profitable in the warm season.