Next year, EU countries will lose a market of 400,000 tonnes

As noted here, from January 1, Belarus will no longer allow certain imports from multiple countries. These include those of the European Union. Prohibited products include fresh fruits and vegetables. Over 400,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables were exported to Belarus from / via EU countries last year.

This is according to Eurostat figures. Based on the numbers for the first nine months of 20201, it will be a bit more this year. A few years ago it was over a million tonnes. It was just after the boycott of Russian imports, notes Jan-Kees Boon of Fruit & Vegetable Facts.

Still a communication route to Russia
Belarusian imports of fresh fruits and vegetables peaked at two million tonnes in 2015. After Russia instituted its import boycott in mid-2014, Belarusian imports surged. It gradually decreased to reach 650,000 tonnes in 2020. In some years, fresh fruits and vegetables were imported from all kinds of countries, often also exotic. They even had pears from Yemen. It is according to Belarusian customs. This “trade” is now largely over.

Belarus’s import and export curves are parallel, as shown above. This clearly shows the importance of the country as a transit destination. Exports of mainly apples and pears are almost exclusively destined for Russia.

Poland is the leading supplier
According to Belarusian customs officials, half of all imported fresh fruits and vegetables came from EU countries. The same was true in 2019. Today, Poland is the main supplier of these products in Belarus. Imports from this country amounted to 177,000 tonnes last year. This is what the Belarusian customs service says. This included 120,000 tonnes of apples and 35,000 tonnes of pears. The best fruits therefore represented 80% of the total.

Mostly top quality fruit
According to Eurostat, Poland (re) exported 260,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables to Belarus. This figure is higher because they include re-exports from other countries, mainly from the EU. Eurostat’s figure for Polish apple exports to Belarus matches the figure for Belarusian imports. According to Eurostat, almost 90,000 tonnes of pears went to Belarus from / via Poland. These include Belgian and Dutch products from Belgium which go further east via Poland.

Poland (re) also exports Spanish products, among others. You can see it in the numbers of (re) exporting products like strawberries, peaches, persimmons and citrus fruits.

Apples mainly from Poland, pears from Belgium and the Netherlands as well
The best fruits also dominate the total EU exports to Belarus. Besides Poland, other EU countries send few apples to Belarus. As mentioned, Poland is less dominant for pears. In principle, Eurostat does not give figures by country of origin but by source country (last “port”).

This is evident from the Belarusian customs figures. For 2020, they estimate that 32,000 tonnes of Belgian pears and 13,000 tonnes of Dutch pears would have been imported. For imports from / via Poland, Belarusian import statistics for 2020 amount to almost 35,000 tonnes.

The best fruits represent almost 40% of imports
In 2020 Belarus imported 650,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables. Apples represent 130,000 tonnes and pears 110,000 tonnes. Together they are good for 35-40% of the total. Bananas follow with 75,000 tonnes. Next come tomatoes (45,000 tonnes), mandarins (36,000 tonnes) and peaches / nectarines (28,000 tonnes).

Lots of Turkey too
Turkey is the leading supplier outside the EU. In 2020 it was good for 106,000 tonnes. Before that, it sent more, peaking in 2017. Then Belarus imported 215,000 tonnes of fresh produce from Turkey. Pears are the main product, followed by tomatoes and peaches / nectarines. Spain is the third largest supplier, according to Belarusian customs. This country imported 56,000 tonnes of fresh Spanish produce last year.

Note also the import from Russia, which amounted to 55,000 tonnes in 2020. Bananas and watermelons are the main products arriving in Belarus via Russia. Ecuador (38,000 tonnes), Belgium (35,000), the Netherlands (32,000) and Ukraine (20,000 tonnes) follow.

Click here for the information sheet (in Dutch).

For more information
Jan Kees Boon
Facts about fruits and vegetables
Email: [email protected]

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