"We knew that there would be some damage after the frosts, but many producers were still hoping for a good season since we were in the budding stage when the cold weather hit. We started experiencing flower drop once the berries were in the flowering stage, which meant that a lot of the fruit did not survive. Of course, the amount of losses varies by variety, with some having up to 50% losses, but I would say that we are looking at around 20-25% on our plantations and it is too early to say what the losses are nationwide," explained Dominika Kozarzewska from Polskie Jagody.
"The general public may feel like we have had great weather for the last 2 months, with lots of sunny days, but it hasn't been good for nature. We have seen that the usual patterns have been interrupted and it has become almost impossible to predict what will happen. A good example of this is that the Acacia trees started blooming at the same time as our blueberries, which was way too early, which left the bees not knowing what they should pollinate."
Despite the losses, Dominika said that the sales outlook for the coming season is really good.
"We have been running a marketing campaign for the last two years here in Poland which has been seeing a lot of success. We have been educating the public about things like when and why your should eat the fruit. We have 40 mln people in Poland, that is a great market, so why not tap into the opportunities we have here instead of always looking to foreign markets for export," Dominika said.
When it comes to export markets, Polsky Jagody sends most of their berries to Western European countries, including the UK, Germany and Scandinavia. Dominika said that some traders have been looking to destinations further afield, like SE Asia or the Emirates, but said that all of that depends on the global market. There are other challenges as well, the UAE, for example, is a very competitive market.