Moldovan Apples Find New Market in Romania

Aliona Mandatii at the launch of the unified export brand Moldova: Taste makes a difference.
Aliona Mandatii, left, at the launch of her country's unified export brand, Moldova: Taste Makes the Difference
Doors open for country's fruit exporters despite Russian ban
“Now our apples look like genuine European products.”

April 2015—After Russia imposed a ban on Moldovan fresh fruit in 2014, finding new markets looked like an impossible dream. But selling apples to the largest foreign supermarket chain in Romania only a few months later really brought export potential into focus.

So says Aliona Mandatii, an energetic businesswoman from northern Moldova. Her company, Domulterra SRL in Floresti district, just supplied 47 tons of Moldovan apples to Carrefour Romania and is prepared to ship even more.

Her 12-month contract is a result of participating at the Fruit Logistica 2013 show in Germany, where the Agricultural Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Program (ACED), a joint USAID-Millennium Challenge Corporation program, supported a group of Moldovan fruit producers to generate business contacts and market linkages with new buyers.

Domulterra’s apples have gained wide visibility and respect in Moldova, thanks to their appearance and quality.

“The size of more than 70 percent of our fruit is 80 millimeters or larger, and the taste is excellent,” said Mandatii. “The boxes are properly marked and every apple has an individual country/company branding.”

Her company has implemented a number of the technologies recommended by ACED, including anti-hail nets, cold storage, grading and sorting, modern pruning techniques and chemical thinning. They also have an iMetos weather station to predict bad weather in the orchard.

“We found boxes made in Romania for our apples. Unfortunately, the Moldovan packaging is not very suitable. We also ordered polyethylene cells from Italy. Now our apples look like genuine European products,” said Mandatii.

Selling to a western supermarket chain is a new experience for Mandatii, as Domulterra has traditionally exported mostly to Russia, and more recently to Belarus.

“Romania is a key market for our sales strategy for western markets. Carrefour is our first international client and negotiations are planned with two additional Romanian supermarket chains in early 2015,” said Mandatii. “We also held discussions on apple deliveries to a Swedish wholesale market.”

In Moldova, Domulterra works with all of the local supermarkets in Chisinau—IMC, Green Hills, Linella and Nr. 1.

Aliona says Romania is just the beginning for her. Domulterra has registered a limited liability company in Romania in order to build a logistical base for its operations. With participation in future trade shows, she hopes that she will be able to take advantage of the new doors opened with USAID assistance.

The ACED program, which runs from 2011 to 2016, is designed to help the agriculture sector in Moldova improve the production and marketing of high-value crops.


Follow @USembMoldova, on Facebook