The market situation for Polish soft fruit growers has been a difficult one; plagued by weather issues, low prices and labour issues.
"There has been talk of crop failure. Although you would think that the lack of problems this year, like frost or hail, would be appreciated by the growers, the prices have become so low that it is difficult to make enough money to break even. The situation for industrial raspberries, gooseberries and sweet cherries is even worse, with price being described as 'dramatically' low. The Association of Polish Fruit Marketers have said 'enough is enough' and called raspberry, gooseberry, currant and cherry growers to strike, and although some have already started striking, many have said that they need to bring their crops to collection points because they have loans to pay off and need to cover the interest," explains Anna Litwin from Ewa Bis.
wberry and red currant growers have had better prices, but have been faced with not having the workers to harvest their fruits. Anna said that the difficult employment procedures meant that many growers skipped employee foreigners, only to find out that it is very hard to find someone in Poland to do that kind of work.
"The strawberry season started 2 weeks early this season, which made it even more challenging to find workers on time and many strawberries became too ripe by the time they were harvested and were only suitable for industry. We've had a huge deficit of table strawberries, which, as a trading company, have been really affected by. We had a lot of orders from Europe and the Middle East for premium strawberries which we couldn't complete because of poor quality," Anna lamented.
When asked about what might help the current situation that growers find themselves in, Anna replied; "There is no ready-made or 'one size fits all' solution, but it seems like the growers should be more prepared to produce dessert fruit, reducing the amount of poor quality fruit on the market. We sell thousands of tons of apples annually at Ewa-Bis, with a network of wholesale buyers and it happens, quite often, that the same buyers want to buy soft fruit from us and to fulfil their orders, often have to look for good quality fruit in the farthest corners of Poland."
On the eve of the start of the blueberry season, Ewa-Bis has been cooperating with many growers, most of them have Global Gap and GRASP certified. This season we will be able to offer several hundred tons of blueberries with an ecological certificate as well.
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