‘I think not roses came’: flower imports to Tatarstan soar fivefold

Neighbouring regions in the Volga region suddenly decreased imports of this product from abroad

The amount of imported flowers in the Volga region suddenly dropped, Realnoe Vremya’s analysts calculated after studying data of the Federal Customs Service (FCS). The number shrank by 94,2% in monetary terms in the last five years: from $8,4m in 2016 to $489,6 in 2020. Meanwhile, Tatarstan, in contrast, increased flower imports more than five times — to $133,7 (2020). Experts name changes in flower traffic from abroad and its legalisation as one of the reasons for such growth, but some assume something else could be brought to the republic under the guise of roses. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Roses and chrysanthemums from abroad for a quarter of billion dollars

Flower imports to Russia last year totalled $270,9 million, the total weight exceeded 78,000 tonnes. Roses accounted for almost half of this amount ($133,6 million), chrysanthemums were brought for $46,6m, carnations — for $14,8m, lilies — $4m, orchids — $2,7m. Other flowers were purchased for $69m.

Imports in the Volga Federal District have catastrophically fallen in the last five years, by 94,2%. If flowers in 2016 were imported for $8,4m, in 2020, we were brought only for $489,6. The total weight of imports has decreased from 1,371,7 tonnes to 162,4 tonnes during the same period. Orenburg, Nizhny Novgorod Oblasts and Chuvashia have refused flower imports in the last three years.

Tatarstan looks more interesting here. While other regions reduced or even suspended flower imports amid the pandemic and a complicated economic situation, the republic, in turn, increased its amount more than five times in 2020.

“I think not roses came from Armenia”

To be more precise, in monetary terms, imported flowers in Tatarstan rose from $23,9 in 2019 to $133,7 in 2020. Moreover, the borders were closed for long during the lockdown.

Roses account for the whole amount. The republic hasn’t been importing chrysanthemums from abroad for two years already, while in 2020 it refused carnation and other flowers too. Most flowers — for $117,000 — were imported from Armenia, the rest was brought from Uzbekistan (for $16,000).

Realnoe Vremya already wrote about a rise in prices for flowers, and experts call legalisation of traffic through the Russian border as one of the reasons:

“The products used to arrive through different routes via Belarus. Here is the answer to the question about the rise in imports, I think,” thinks Director of Flower Paradise Rinat Ageyev.

This is how Ildar Timerbayev, director of Botanica, commented on the situation with bigger flower imports:

“I think not roses came from Armenia. I think it is roses only according to documents. It can likely be something else. As for the Kazan market, I saw Armenian roses 2-3 times in 2020, and the amount was not so big. I have not seen flowers from Uzbekistan in the last six years. Our customs clearance used to be via Belarus. It will be much longer to bring flowers from Holland through Armenia (than Belarus).”

“We produced three times more flowers”

Flower exports in Russia are much lower than imports. So products for $594,700 were exported from our country in 2020, the total weight is 163,8 tonnes. Roses hold 73%, or

$434,700. Other flowers accounted for 24,4% of the total amount, or $145,000.

Flower exports in the Volga Federal District have been relatively stable in the last five years except for 2020. Supplies have amounted to $208-252,000. However, the share of exports over the year has decreased more than twice — from $247,700 in 2019 to $111,500 in 2020.

According to the Federal Customs Service, flower exports from Tatarstan were equal to zero. As Tatiana Shevchenko, head of Avrora company, explained, in 2021, the share of local flowers in the republic is much higher:

“We not only buy but also produce flowers. This year, we have produced three times more flowers than last year and have bought the Holland flower two times less. We bet on the ordinary buyer, on the average receipt of some 500-700 rubles. If the buyer could buy 5-7 roses for this money, this year he can 5 roses. To make sure the buyer can buy approximately the same bunch for the same amount of money, we ordered fewer roses and planted more local flowers.”

Tatiana Shevchenko says that several factors influenced the prices: the dollar rate, logistics. Customs clearance used to be in Belarus, now it is in Moscow, the delivery of the same commodity is more expensive. Some local producers also raised prices because the taxation system changed.

The situation on the threshold of holidays, on 14 February, had an impact too. As Tatiana Shevchenko said, if the product was 1-2 days late due to holiday supplies, this year it has been a week. “Flowers are such a commodity that has a short shelf life, 2-3 days are critical for us. We threw away a lot of goods. Wholesale companies carried colossal losses,” says the interlocutor of the newspaper. It became possible to regulate the situation only by 8 March, there haven’t been long delays of supplies anymore.

By Yevgeny Khramov

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