Polish raspberry prices under pressure

On 18 June, the Polish association of fruit growers called on growers to not harvest raspberries and other categories of soft fruit. At the same time, the association appealed to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to start an anti-monopoly procedure with the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection regarding the soft fruit market, because they’re expecting a market abuse of processors. The direct cause of this is the low price. Some days ago, prices were roughly 10-15 pln per kilo (2.5 euro), prices have now dropped sharply, and growers only receive 2.5 pln per kilo for their product. Because average costs are about 4 pln per kilo, it’s no longer profitable to harvest fruit, according to the association.

Several reasons are at the bottom of the reduction in prices: increased import of raspberries from third countries (such as Serbia and Ukraine); shortage of labour (new, administrative regulations for employing seasonal workers and a shortage of people willing to pick fruit); and the persistent high temperatures combined with a lack of precipitation. The Polish market increasingly imports raspberries from Serbia and Ukraine, because cost of labour is much lower in these countries, which is why import is causing pressure, and a decrease, on prices. Import of raspberries from Ukraine to Poland has already increased by more than 40 per cent this year. But increasing production in these countries isn’t just causing additional competition on the Polish market, it’s also causing ‘price competition’ with Polish product on other markets in the EU. As a result of some cases of fraud regarding the origin (foreign fruit was supposedly mixed with Polish fruit and marketed as Polish fruit), the Association of Fruit Growers in Poland asked the government for stricter (origin and quality) inspections on the border and for retail.

Another factor is the drought that has been plaguing Poland for some weeks now, which is causing higher production cots and lower yields. This soon drew comparisons to 2015, when Poland also suffered severely from drought. At the time, the raspberry harvest only amounted to 80,000 tonnes. This week, the IUNG (Polish institute for production, fertiliser and soil) reported about persistent high temperatures combined with a lack of precipitation, and the resulting water shortages. Eighty-six per cent of the municipalities and half the agricultural lands in Poland are now dealing with drought. According to the institute, half the raspberry production in Poland is threatened by this. Growers affected by drought can make use of preferential credits, and the association is currently looking into how else the affected growers can be supported.

Source: Agroberichten buitenland

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