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Levan Davitashvili: “Georgia’s fruit industry’s exports in 2020 were USD 169 million and USD 120 million in the year before; that is, we have a 40% growth.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Levan Davitashvili’s statement is TRUE.

Resume: Total fruit exports in 2020 reached USD 169 million (134,262 tonnes) which is 40% more as compared to 2019’s figure of USD 120 million (98,268 tonnes). There is a growth both in fruit exports in general and exports of certain types of fruits. The growth in the export of peaches, blueberries, chestnuts, almonds and grapes are most evident. However, Russia still remains as a leading export market for Georgian fruit. EU member states are the leading export destinations for Georgian hazelnuts (they account for 78.4% of Georgia’s total hazelnut exports). Given these figures, Levan Davitashvili’s statement is TRUE.

Analysis

At the joint session of committees of the Parliament of Georgia, the then candidate for Minister Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Levan Davitashvili, highlighted fruit exports whilst speaking about agriculture exports and stated: “Georgia’s fruit industry’s exports in 2020 were USD 169 million and they were USD 120 million the year before which constitutes a 40% growth” (20 February 2020, 13:39, Parliament of Georgia).

There was a total of USD 942.2 million worth of agrofood exports from Georgia in 2020 which is 6% more as compared to 2019’s figure. The basic export items are: wine (22%), spirits (14%) mineral and drinking water (12%), hazelnuts (10%), non-alcoholic carbonated drinks (3%), etc. In 2020, Georgia’s agrofood was exported to 92 countries.

In regard to the export of hazelnuts, USD 169 million worth of hazelnuts (134,262 tonnes) was exported from Georgia in 2020. The same figure in 2019 was USD 120 million (98,268 tonnes). Therefore, fruit exports in 2020 indeed increased by 40% as stated by Levan Davitashvili.

Table 1: Fruit Exports in 2019-2020

Source: Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia

As illustrated by the table, the total fruit exports in 2020, including exports of some types of fruits, have increased both in quantity (tonnes) and in export revenues (USD million). Apples are the only exception whose export volume dropped (by 224 tonnes), although export revenue has increased (by USD 505,000). As compared to 2019, exports of peaches, blueberries, chestnuts, almonds and grapes increased the most.

The export destinations for Georgian fruits are of interest.

EU member states account for 78.4% of Georgia’s total hazelnuts exports. Apart from the EU, the largest volumes of hazelnuts were exported to the following countries: Russia - 4%, Armenia - 4%, Belarus - 3.7%, etc.

Russia is the top export destination for Georgia’s peaches with 80.8% of total exports going there. Armenia accounts for 17.2% of the export of Georgian peaches. The share of EU countries is 0.6%, Ukraine’s share is 0.6% and Azerbaijan’s share is 0.6%, etc.

The largest volume of tangerines; that is, 71.5% of total exports, went to Russia. Armenia is the second export destination with 16.3%, Ukraine is next with 8.7%, the EU follows with 0.5%, etc.

Russia is also the top destination for Georgia’s export of apples with 91%, followed by Armenia with 4.4%, Azerbaijan with 2.2%, the EU by 0.3%, etc.

Russia also accounts for more than half of Georgia’s total persimmon export with 59.2%, again followed by Ukraine with 23.4% and Armenia with 16.4%. There were no persimmons exported to the EU.

Around 94% of exported blueberries went to Russia whilst EU member states account for only 1.4%. There were 2% and 1.5% of blueberries exported to Armenia and the UAE, respectively.

Russia accounts of 35.9% of the total exports of Georgian chestnuts, followed by EU member states with 28.6%, Armenia with 12.7%, Azerbaijan with 13.5%, Lebanon with 8.5%, etc.

Armenia leads as a top export destination for Georgia’s pears with 61.4%. Russia is the second importer with 34.4%, followed by Azerbaijan with 3.5%, etc.

Kyrgyzstan accounts for 94.3% of Georgia’s export of almonds. Ukraine’s share here is 5.7%.

The largest amount of grapes; that is, 80.1%, was exported to Russia. Azerbaijan accounts for 6.3% of Georgia’s export of grapes, followed by Armenia with 6.2%, Ukraine by 5.4% and EU member states with 0.4%.

The aforementioned examples illustrated that Russia is still a top export market for Georgian fruits with most of them going as exports to Russia. Hazelnuts, pears and almonds are the exceptions. EU member states are the leading export destinations for hazelnuts (78.4% of total exports).

Given all the aforementioned, Levan Davitashvili’s statement is TRUE.


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