Moldovan wine producers prefer to sell in Europe: “We focused on the Russian market, but prices are lower there.” – Explorer 🇫🇷

Nicolae Tronciu, whose wife was born in the Siberian camp where her parents were deported, is accustomed to the geopolitical turmoil in this country of 2.6 million, which, thanks to its favorable climate, is among the top 20 wine producers in the world.

“I mainly sell in Europe, especially in Romania,” explains Nicolae Tronciu, whose vineyard is about fifty kilometers from the border with Ukraine.

“Traditionally, we focused on the Russian market, but the prices there are lower… In the EU, you can ask for a higher price for wine, but the emphasis is on quality. The future is in Europe,” says the producer rebroadcasting Agerpres.

According to the cited source, successive embargoes imposed by Russia over the past decades in response to the decision of the Chisinau authorities to move closer to the EU have also prompted the winegrowers of the neighboring country to reorient themselves.

Brussels has accelerated the movement by removing customs duties in order to be able to conclude a bilateral free trade agreement with Chisinau in 2014 in wine products.

The transformation has been drastic: According to data released by Moldova’s Ministry of Agriculture, Russia accounted for 10% of Moldova’s wine exports in 2021, compared to 80% in the early 2000s. At the same time, last year the Republic of Moldova supplied 120 million liters to European countries against 8.6 million liters to Russia.

“Before the Russian embargo in 2006, the country did not know the term “market diversification”. Today, the company annually exports almost 68 million bottles of wine to more than 70 countries,” explains Sergiu Gercu, State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry.

Moldova’s leading wine producer Purcari Group even took a political stand against Russian influence by releasing a wine called Freedom Blend.

» In 2014, we developed Freedom Blend based on three grape varieties from Georgia, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova: Saperavi, Bastardo and Rara Neagra. This wine is a symbol of three countries fighting for their freedom,” explains Eugene Komendant, COO of Purcari.

The Purcari group, listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, also distinguished itself by providing Ukrainian refugees with free accommodation in hotel rooms and sponsoring an advertising campaign against the war in Ukraine.

As for the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Purkarya’s business, Yevhen Komendant argues that the impact is “close to zero” due to the reduction in transactions with Russia. In contrast, the Ukrainian market, which flourished and accounted for 4% of Purcari’s sales, has now collapsed.

Another difficulty: the blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odessa, which caused “big logistical problems and complicated our exports to Asia,” explains Eugène Comandan.

Despite traffic being diverted to the port of Constanta, €750,000 worth of bottles of wine are still stranded in the Ukrainian port of Odessa, the Chisinau government recently announced.

However, the main problem for Moldovan wine producers is the increase in production costs, which are expected to rise by 50% this year, said State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry Sergiu Gercu.

“Our costs have doubled due to rising prices for energy, pesticides, fertilizers, and, for example, it has become more difficult to find steel cable for tapestries, the price of which has tripled,” confirms Nicolae Tronciu, a seller of eight to ten tons of wine per year.

In addition, Nicolae Tronciu also suffers from the lack of tourists he is accustomed to receiving. “Most of them were Ukrainians, but there were also a few Russians,” says Nicolae Tronciu, whose tasting room is now empty.

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