Raspberries and immortelles were once seen as cultures of the future, as herbs that allowed for decent or even large profit margins. The immortelle plant, which only grows in Herzegovina, was labeled “Herzegovinian gold” after the large advertising campaign in 2015, and one kilogram of immortelles could cost up to seven KM. As expected, the price declined in 2016.
Buyers agreed on a price of 3 KM per kilogram before summer’s harvest. This was, (regardless of the fact that the price halved compared to last year) tempting for almost all growers. The issue, however, was a lack of time in the distilleries, and the fact that crops became too crowded. It resulted in late harvesting, which greatly affected the quality of the immortelles and Helichrysum essential oils. Many of the growers who failed to sell the immortelles in June and July were destined to start producing oil at their own farms. The alternatives were private factories that charged much for their services. To date (six months later), most of the growers who produce the oil at home were not able to sell it because buyers “only trust their own products.”
By the end of the year the market situation improved, however, and the autumn harvest did not bring about similar problems. Growers were able to sell their crop, even at a somewhat higher price than 3 KM (reaching up to 3.30 KM). What 2017 will bring is difficult to predict, but considering the greed of buyers and the considerable supply currently on the market, new price cuts can be expected, unfortunately. Growers still hope that the price in 2017 will stay the same as last year. It is important to mention that the placement of the goods is not expected to be a problem in the future.
Like for the growers of growers of immortelles, this past year has not been successful for raspberry growers either, the reason being the weather difficulties that affected BiH during key months. The yield was on average 40 percent lower compared to 2015, according to Goran Papić from Natural Food, a company engaging in the processing of berries. Also, the quality of the fruit was significantly lower compared to previous seasons.
A closed market
“Overall, the number of purchases were higher due to a higher number of subcontractors compared to the previous year. Today's situation is especially difficult for purchasers because raspberries were overpaid last year. We have fully refrigerated compounds, but exports are declining. Other countries that are long-standing raspberry exporters had a successful season, creating a virtually closed market and cutting off demand, says Papić.
He warns that exports last month fell by as much as 35 percent, and forecasts for 2017 are not optimistic.
“We can easily get into a situation that buyers will not have the capacity to receive new goods. It is complicated because many institutions provide subsidies for production expansion, while neglecting, consciously or not, other segments of the supply chain, leading us to a complete imbalance that could easily come in 2017. If this coming year brings an average-sized harvest, I do not know where we will accommodate five to seven ton of raspberries, because BiH does not have a lager. I fear that people will lose their motivation to produce, concluded Papić.
Translated by: Tea IVANOVIĆ
(Original version: Šta čeka smilje i maline u 2017)