Russian ingredient prices stable despite Asian supply concerns

Related tags Cost Spice Russia

Supply problems in Asia - mostly as a result of the political and
economic fallout of December's devastating tidal wave - have not as
yet hit prices for key herbs and spices imported into Russia,
according to the company Vremea. Angela Drujinina reports.

Bogdan Logvinenco, head of the company's foreign relations department, said that while the tsunami itself had had only a limited direct effect on key crops, the instability caused by the disaster would eventually make itself felt.

For the time being, however, Russian prices have remained relatively unaffected, part of a wider trend towards a delayed reaction to market changes.

A hurricane in Grenada pushed up nutmeg prices on most international markets last year, but prices in Russia only began to rise in January, and then only for ground nutmeg. Nutmeg costs around $8/kilo in Russia, with ground nutmeg costing around $5.10-5.90/kilo.

Prices of products such as cinnamon, black pepper and red pepper, many of which are sourced from Asia, have not in fact changed greatly since the tsunami, with Vremea's head of logistics Alexei Izotov explaining that what increases had been documented were related mainly to higher transportation costs in Indonesia rather than any problems with actual supplies.

Indeed, cinnamon - sourced mainly from Vietnam and Indonesia - is currently selling in Russia for the same price as last year, $1.25-1.45/kilo for the best quality produce.

Prices for black pepper are high due to low supplies (it is the end of the season and most crops have already been bought and sold), but this is yet to have any impact on the Russian market, said Vremea, with prices remaining at $2.20-2.40/kilo. Red peppers cost $2.00-3.00, again roughly the same as last year.

A fall in price is expected for turmeric due to last year's massive crop (the new one is expected next month), although this drop is also likely to take longer to filter through to Russia, where prices are likely to remain stable at $1.45-1.70 per kilo.

In contrast, the price of Syrian and Turkish cumin remains lower in Russia ($2.60-3.00 for whole cumin seeds, $2.80-3.10 for the ground variety) than on international markets.

World garlic prices remain high, and supplies in Russia are hard to come by, due, according to Vremea's Victoria Ivanova, a major shortfall in supplies from China. "Chinese growers did not meet their commitments to many Russian buyers, and both demand and prices have therefore risen."

Garlic currently costs around $1.45-1.70/kilo, with garlic powder costing $1.38-1.50/kilo.

Egyptian suppliers of dill have also advised their customers to stock up now because of an expected shortfall in supplies in the spring or early summer which will push up prices. Egypt is not the only supplier of dill to the Russian market however, with much of its supply coming from other CIS nations. According to the importers, Egypt is the preferred supplier of sun-dried dill, because both the quality and price are better, while machine-dried dill tends to be sourced from the CIS, again because of guality.

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