The Polish are currently picking their apples, only to sell them for very low prices. Although some growers and exporters are wondering how they’re going to sell the record amount of apples, Mohammed Marwi of Sarafruit is optimistic about selling his produce. Export has already started, but in about two weeks, the export numbers are about to double, maybe even triple according to him.
The fact that Poland is experiencing a record harvest is no news. The weather has been exceptional for apples this year and it’s showing. Although people have estimated the harvest at 4 to 4.5 million tonnes, Mohammed Marwi of Sarafruit thinks this number will go up after next month. “People think 4.5 million tonnes is exaggerating, but mark my words; Poland will harvest over 5 million tonnes of apples this year. This huge volume has an effect on the prices, which are plummeting at the moment. The factories give us bottom prices and the current countries we export to aren’t offering a lot more, as they are looking for the best deal available.”
Multiple growers and exporters have stated they’re worried they won’t be able to sell all of their apples, but Sarafruit still isn’t concerned: “We have a steady customer-base in Europe and are already shipping to Germany, Spain and Egypt. The volumes we ship now aren’t as big as they will be around mid-October though. I expect the volumes of the export is about the double, maybe even triple. The season will really take off.”
The volume isn’t just a problem when it comes to prices, according to Marwi the apples have to be picked fairly soon: “The problem is if you leave all these apples on the trees, they will start to lose quality. They will go soft, but the problem is a lot of Polish growers don’t have the manpower to pick the apples, nor do they have to storage capacity to store all their apples even if they were able to pick them all.”
Even though Sarafruit will be able to sell their produce, the same thing can’t be said for all Polish growers or exporters: “The current climate will have a serious effect on small companies or growers. Unless you’re part of a group of producers, chances are you won’t be able to sell your apples. Growers who are grouped are naturally in a stronger position to trade. This will basically result in small companies disappearing from the market. Then again, some other exporters might take advantage of their network and take their place. I think we’ll know a lot more about the future after the peak in exports next month.”
When asked about his competition, Marwi doesn’t feel anyone can compete with Poland right now, especially when it comes to volumes. “The prices are very low and countries like Ukraine are too new as a producer to be a real threat. Italy has some varieties that are very popular and are of great quality. However, our volume is so overwhelming that we have nothing to worry about.”
With Poland essentially in a crisis, where the prices are unbelievably low, what does the future of Polish apples look like? Marwi claims the yield will be less next year: "With apple trees it’s all about the weather and this year was exceptional. This season the trees gave so many fruits, which means they will grow less apples next year, that’s a fact. On top of that we might lose some crops to bad weather, which is usually the case. The smaller companies might have disappeared and the sector will hopefully be a bit more healthy.”