Alexey Shemetov, the Vice President for Production of ECO-Culture, answers the questions of FruitNews portal

On July 31, an online interview with Alexey Shemetov, the Vice President of ECO-Culture company, was published on YouTube channel of FruitNews portal, the first Russian specialized resource for producers of fruits and vegetables. The interview was dedicated to topical issues in the greenhouse industry.

The main topics of conversation were changes in the agrarian sphere of Russia during COVID-19 pandemic, strategic development of greenhouse enterprises in the changing world, the importance of modern technologies in operation of major agricultural businesses. Besides the representatives of FruitNews portal, all those interested could take part in the dialogue with the Vice President of ECO-Culture, having asked their questions using a special online form.

One of the first questions of the host touched on the impact of the pandemic on the modern market of greenhouse products in general and the company’s specific situation – whether the sales are declining, whether the demands of consumers are changing, and what was the impact of coronavirus on the industry in general.

According to Alexey Shemetov, the epidemic has not had a serious impact on production and demand. There were some minor problems at the very beginning of the pandemic following the introduction of strict quarantine measures – there was a decrease in demand for a couple of weeks, but it has gradually returned to its previous figures. There were local logistical difficulties, too, but all the issues emerging were quickly resolved. The enterprise itself continued to operate as usual, obviously in accordance with the strictest hygiene regulations. In fact, vegetables, as a product that is known to strengthen health and immunity, were in even greater demand.

When asked about general difficulties in the development of the industry, the Vice President replied that the main current problem of the agrarian sector in Russia is the abolition of state subsidies and compensation for expenses of agricultural enterprises. However, the preservation of the interest rate on loans for large greenhouse farms and for ECO-Culture in particular, allows all of us to hope that the gradual increase in production rates will be maintained in the future. While the realization of the company’s projects scheduled earlier goes according to the plan, with planting areas growing, new greenhouse complexes opening, and new lines being introduced into the product range.

One important factor hindering the development of the greenhouse sector in Russia on a larger scale is energy prices. At least partial compensation of expenses, payment deferrals, and other relaxations could significantly improve the situation for the majority of enterprises. So far, energy costs account for up to 50% of the companies’ total expenses.

As for positive trends, these include gradual replacement of imported vegetable products in the domestic market with homegrown ones. This process has been going on for several years now and is becoming more and more extensive. It is noteworthy that domestic vegetables are superior to foreign analogs in quality standards, health benefits, and even exterior parameters.

Further questions covered the problems of the newest greenhouse technologies, prospects of development of the vegetable greenhouse market in Russia in the nearest future, as well as other topical issues.

You can access the full text of the discussion on FruitNews portal’s YouTube channel.