The FINANCIAL -- AgVANTAGE, USAID funded program together with the company Mandarins of Georgia celebrated on Sunday the opening of mandarin consolidation center in the Adjara region, village Daba Chakvi (Georgia) .
Mandarins have traditionally been one of the main fruits crops exported from Georgia during Soviet times. Historically, Russia (45%), Ukraine (45%) and Armenia (10%) were the major markets for Georgian mandarins. Mandarins harvest fluctuates year by year and varies between 45000-85000 tons. Approximately 40-45% of the total production of mandarins is export quality.
After Russian embargo on Georgian agricultural products in December 2005 situation changed. Today Ukraine remains as one of the primary target markets for Georgian mandarins. Even though, the market is experiencing more and more competition from the countries like Turkey, Greece and Morocco. Competitors advantage traditionally has been value addition through proper post harvest handling. Packaging of Georgian mandarin – 18-30 kg wooden box - is old soviet style method not very comfortable for wholesalers or retailers on a target markets.
Mandarins mostly are not graded and sorted and one can find all size of mandarins in the box. With such packaging Georgian product is not competitive at the higher margin markets.
In an effort to promote value addition process in Georgian citrus sector, AgVANTAGE teamed up with “Mandarins of Georgia” and renovated existing building of the mandarin consolidation center and purchased modern sorting line from US based well known company Durand-Wayland. The capacity of the line is 5 tons per hour. It is equipped with modern sorting conveyers and grading machine. This technology assures high quality grading and packaging of the local mandarins. The aim of the project is to enter new segments of the market and command higher price as a result of this value addition, taking some market share from competitors like Turkey and Greece.
“This technology assures long shelf life for the local mandarins; as a result company will increase sales and add the value to the product. First time product will be sold with the company brand name. Total sales from only the first season will equal to 0, 75 mln. USD”, AgVANTAGE says.
In the frames of AgVANTAGE-s strategy to offset the impact of Russian embargo, the project has been working with “Mandarin of Georgia” to identify and develop alternative markets, though participation in international trade fairs and exhibitions.