BULGARIA MAY NEED TO IMPORT GRAPES IN AUTUMN
The amount of dessert grapes produced in Bulgaria is almost equal to the amount of national consumption. This is what the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry reveals as part of the analysis of the respective market processes in 2003. Twenty-four thousand tons of grapes have been produced, of which 23,376 tons have been sold on the domestic market. As production is expected to decrease by two or three tons, the market will feel a deficit next autumn and import companies will certainly profit by the situation, experts predict. The amount of imported grapes will not exceed one or two thousand tons in 2004, up from just 500 tons a year earlier. But should the same trend continue, in 2005 Bulgaria may already be importing more than 5,000 tons.The problem results from the constant decrease of vineyards in many agricultural areas, farming experts underline. The lack of programmes and subsidies for the production of dessert grapes explains why in the next few years Bulgarian people will have to rely more on the grapes they produce by themselves or the one the country imports. However, its price will be higher than the current one by 20-25% at least, since this is a non-durable product and transporting and preserving it requires special packing. In 2003, the price of Bulgarian grapes varied from BGN1.29 to BGN1.79 per kilogram, while grapes imported from other countries cost between BGN2.50 and BGN3. The highest price of Bulgarian grapes was registered in December 2001, when the crop was poor and its price reached BGN2.50 per kilo.