Vegetable prices increased significantly during July as a result of high export flows, which are reducing the supply in the domestic market.
INSAT data show that during July the prices of vegetables, mainly tomatoes and potatoes, increased by 17 percent annually. This rate was the highest since February 2019, where the prices of this group increased by 26%.
Retail traders in the country claim that food exports remain the reason for the rise in prices at the peak of domestic production. A kilogram of tomatoes is reaching 100 lek per kilogram from about 50 lek that was at the beginning of the season during March.
While agricultural production was booming this year, tomato exports ran into difficulties at the beginning of the year due to the second wave of the pandemic, in many countries of Europe and the Region. Tomato prices were low in the spring, not common for the period. The growth started in July and now in August because export contracts increase volumes in this period leaving a gap in the country.
This situation comes as a recurrence this year as vegetable exports have experienced rapid growth in recent years. The concentration of external demand in a few months puts the domestic market under pressure in terms of both quantity and quality, thus influencing the rise in prices.
Over the years, vegetable and fruit prices have risen at higher rates than the main consumer basket groups INSTAT refers to as a measure of inflation. Farmers are concerned that they are not oriented to produce according to market needs.
The consumer basket of Albanian households is so dependent on food, especially fruits and vegetables, that fluctuations in the price of a single item can unbalance one of the most important macroeconomic indicators, inflation.
The agricultural sector continues to suffer from the precise orientation of investments and plantings due to the lack of official statistics on demand, especially in the domestic market.
The pandemic hit many sectors of the economy in our country both in terms of demand and production, but exports of agricultural products marked double-digit growth.
During 2020, exports of agricultural products increased by 14%. Tomato products occupy the largest share of exports, about 20.7%, followed by melon and watermelon products, cucumbers.