Georgia’s food & agricultural exports almost hit their 1 billion USD threshold, attaining a historic maximum since independence – and that certainly sounds like something to celebrate! However, the respective imports have also increased and broken records. As a result, the trade balance (the difference between export and import) remained virtually unchanged at (-394) million USD. Although, compared to 2017, export increased by 23.2% (181 million USD), while the respective imports grew by only 15.5% (179 million USD). Out of sharp increase of 181 million USD, only 26 million USD are attributed to wine, while the rest came from trade in tobacco and cigars. Since Georgia cultivates very little tobacco, the growth was instigated mostly from the import, slight processing and re-export of tobacco products. Consequently, the export of tobacco & cigars increased by 240% in 2018, and it currently holds second place (after wine) in Georgia’s total food & agricultural exportation (nearly 160 million USD). In 2018, it contributed staggeringly to over 100 million USD in export growth.
Along with wine and tobacco, the export of Georgia’s other main food & agricultural products, such as spirits, natural and mineral water, lamb and mutton, citruses, and peaches & nectarines, also positively contributed to export growth. While the export of hazelnuts and live cattle saw a decrease from 2017.
As to prices, for food and non-alcoholic beverages, the month-over-month prices increased by 2.3%. On an annual basis for food and non-alcoholic beverages, the prices increased by 1.7%. In December 2018, the sharpest price changes on annual basis were observed for fruit and grapes (-17.5%), fish (+11.1%), and bread and cereals (+8.8%). International prices reflected in FAO Food Price Index, on the contrary, have declined by 3.5% from 2017.