Record High Imports of Fresh Vegetables
According to the National Statistical Institute, Bulgaria’s import of fresh vegetables for the first two months of this year surpassed 55,000 tons. This number marks a substantial increase compared to the previous year, which recorded only 32,000 tons of imported fresh vegetables in the same period. The higher demand for plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and others is attributed to several factors, including the changing eating habits of the Bulgarian people.
Sharp Increase in Fresh Fruit Imports
Similarly, Bulgaria has seen a significant rise in fresh fruit imports over the same period. The country imported nearly 66,000 tons of fresh fruit in the first two months of 2021 alone. The main fruits imported were bananas, oranges, and apples, among others. Contrary to the previous year’s statistics, when the country imported a total of 45,000 tons of fresh fruit, this year’s figures indicate a 48% increase.
Factors Contributing to the Import Increase
The past few years have seen Bulgaria’s agricultural sector suffer significant setbacks, including severe drought and an agricultural workforce crisis. The country’s population is also increasingly drawn towards more foreign cuisines, which often feature exotic fruits and vegetables that are difficult to grow locally. Lastly, given the restrictive COVID-19 measures, Bulgarian people are increasingly opting to eat at home, resulting in higher demand for fresh produce.
In conclusion, the latest data clearly shows that Bulgaria’s dependence on imported fresh produce has significantly increased. This trend is worrying since the country has long been known for its agricultural potential and traditional food production. If Bulgaria fails to address the underlying causes of the agricultural sector’s stagnation, it will continue to be import-dependent, leaving its citizens vulnerable to global supply chain shocks and high food prices.