A shipment of Argentine topfruit bound for the Russian market has been turned away amid mounting concern that Russia's economic problems could have serious repercussions for Argentina’s fruit producers in the coming season.
According to a report in Diario Río Negro, which cited the Argentine Chamber of Integrated Fruit Producers (Cafi) the consignment of around 700 tonnes of apples and pears from Río Negro and Neuquén was rejected upon arrival at the port of Vladivostok after the receiver defaulted on payment for shipping and port services.
One exporter told the newspaper that a growing number of importers were unable to honour their commitments following the latest decision by the Russian government to devalue the rouble by 5.4 per cent. The means that the currency has effectively lost 52 per cent of its value since the beginning of August.
“Importers with exporters in US dollars but are paid in roubles. It’s not difficult to see why they are in crisis,” the unnamed source said.
Marcelo Loyarte, manager of Cafi, warned that the worsening situation in Russia was having serious repercussions for fruit producers in Río Negro. “The devaluation has hit the region’s fruit industry hard, especially given that the dollar is pegged at ARS8.5 and our internal costs are rising continuously,” he said.
The raised expectations of Argentine shippers in the wake of Russia’s ban on EU agricultural products have all but evaporated. The Río Negro Valley exports around 90,000 tonnes of apples and pears to Russia a year and exporters fear that the potential loss of such an important market will hit them hard at what is already a precarious time for the industry.