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Challenges and prospects: Serbia’s fruit export industry

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Serbia’s fruit export industry has been a significant contributor to the country’s economy, with exports totaling 770.96 million euros last year, despite a slight decline compared to previous years. In both 2022 and 2021, Serbia surpassed the 850 million euro mark in fruit exports, indicating a consistent trend of high export value.

Frozen raspberries and similar berries emerged as the most lucrative export category in 2023, generating over 320 million euros in revenue for Serbia. Germany, France, Belgium, and the USA were among the top importers of Serbian raspberries. Additionally, fresh apples accounted for a substantial portion of exports, with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates being key markets.

However, Serbia’s fruit export sector faces challenges, particularly from increased competition in Eastern Europe. Countries like Poland and Ukraine have expanded their fruit production capacities, posing a threat to Serbia’s market share. Bojan Stanić from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce highlighted the competitive pricing pressure faced by Serbian raspberries in the EU market, despite their superior quality.

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Furthermore, the fruit export industry is grappling with logistical issues, including the recent suspension of priority border crossings for perishable goods. This decision, prompted by concerns over misuse of priority status, has disrupted the timely export of fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Additionally, the influx of fruit from Ukraine at lower prices has further complicated market dynamics.

Addressing these challenges requires investment in processing capacities to mitigate losses during periods of oversupply. Professor Zoran Keserović emphasized the need for value-added processing to create products with longer shelf lives, such as concentrates and preserves. He also underscored the importance of streamlining border procedures to facilitate smoother export operations.

Despite these obstacles, Serbia’s fruit industry remains resilient, buoyed by its reputation for quality produce and ongoing efforts to modernize agricultural practices. With strategic interventions to address logistical bottlenecks and enhance value-added processing, Serbia can sustain its position as a leading exporter of fruits in the region.

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