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Edvin Kokojev, Augma Lithuania:

“Citrus from South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Argentina are highly sought after in Baltic”

Lithuania and other Baltic states are feeling the squeeze of inflation with higher fuel, food and consumer goods prices but there is still demand for more quality, but fairly priced imported fruit and vegetables. “It is especially citrus from South Africa, Egypt Morocco and Argentina that are highly sought after,” according to Edvin Kokojev, Commercial Buyer at Augma an importer of fresh fruit and vegetables into Baltic countries.

“Lithuania has the highest inflation compared to other Baltic states. We see the very significant increases in the food, fuel and consumer product prices. We know and feel that a lot of people here are very price sensitive. As soon as the price for product goes up, demand goes down. It is especially so with exotic fruit. The price directly affects the volume. Even during the change of season from one supplying country to the other. When we see the citrus supply change from Egypt who ship at lower cost to South Africa we see a huge drop in sales because people are affected by the price. It takes time to get the volume up again. We cannot achieve the same price for the products we import from Argentina and South Africa compared to Egypt because the costs and freight is very different. It also affects the final consumer."

"People here are very concentrated on quality as well, it’s very important to them. In Lithuania we have a lot of supermarkets, meaning people are prepared to visit a few shops 2-3 times a week, going from store to store looking for the nicest, freshest but best value and priced product. That’s why it’s import for us to present the best quality,” explains Kokojev.

Augma, owners of the largest banana ripening facility in the Baltic, has been importing fruit and vegetables to Lithuania and Baltic countries for nearly 30 years. They supply all the local supermarkets and smaller shops as well as restaurants. In addition the importer has five of their own stores in Lithuania where they sell directly to end consumers.

“We have five different buyers in our company with each person responsible for their own set of products. My main citrus import depends on the country and volume. For this season we imported  more than 100 containers, about 2 000 tons of citrus from Egypt. We import from Argentina and currently from South Africa. We are also looking for exporters of fresh limes from Brazil, it would be nice to start directly. My colleagues import grapes, kiwi fruit while we are big on avocados,” says Kokojev.

Edvin Kokojev, unloading a box of South African citrus

He said they imported a lot less from Spain due to higher fuel and transport costs. “Because of the fuel prices of transport it was just not cost effective to import a lot from Spain. Getting citrus via shipping from Egypt was more cost effective. That is why our imports from Spain are lower this year compared to previous years.”

“The Baltic supermarkets are our top market. Our aim is to provide top quality products but still keep the prices competitive. That’s why I’m looking for direct suppliers from Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina. I need to expand our supplier base, especially during the Christmas season I would like to build our citrus program,” concluded Kokojev.

For more information:
Edvin Kokojev
Tel: +37060205617

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