With the holidays around the door, Polish apple exporters have been very busy. With a stable local market and slightly better prices, one might think the Polish apple season is on the up and up again. However, the Polish distributors of electricity still have an ace up their sleeve and will raise the costs of electricity by 40 per cent somewhere in the first few months of the new year.
According to Emilia Lewandowska, office manager for Fruit-Group, the past few months have been better for the Polish apples. Although she wouldn’t go as far as to say exports have doubled, let alone tripled: “We started seeing an increase in exports around October and that trend continued in November. I would say between the end of September and the start of December, exports have raised by about 30 per cent. The first two weeks of December were very busy, but now that we’re closing in on Christmas, things are slowing down a bit. This makes sense, as people don’t want to over-buy for the holidays.”
The prices for Polish apples are finally recovering as well, but not in the amount growers are hoping for. Lewandowska claims it also varies heavily depending on the variety: “Take Gala Royal for instance, this variety is currently hard to get, as growers have put all these apples in their cold chambers and closed them. A lot of growers have their produce locked away in cold chambers, hoping for the price to go up before they open them up again.” When asked if multiple exporters opening their chambers simultaneously wouldn’t just crash the price again, Lewandowska said that is exactly what she expects will happen: “We will open a few cold chambers early, as we don’t want to be caught in the middle of big amounts of cold chambers opening at the same time.”
Keeping the produce in cold chambers for a very long time, won’t be an option according to Lewandowska. “We’ve received notice that the costs of electricity will go up somewhere in the first three months of 2019. This decision comes from the government, so there is nothing we can do. It’s expected the price of electricity in Poland will go up by 40 per cent. This means saving the produce in cold chambers will not be profitable either. Overall, even though the price of apples will go up, the expenses will still be higher than the income, which puts the growers in a very bad situation.”
When it comes to China, Lewandowska is still hopeful: “There is a lot of interest from Chinese clients, we’re currently searching for good batches to send them. The issue is their demands for quality are very high, they are quite demanding. When finding a good batch we also need to take the shipping into account. Sometimes it takes 50 days for a shipment to reach its destination in China, and we need to account for this when deciding which apples to send them. We need to make sure the produce can actually survive the trip!”
Although the season is still in full swing, Lewandowska is looking ahead for the next season. “We’ll be having meetings with our growers to explain them how to reduce the amount of pesticides being used. Supermarkets in Germany have a very high standard when it comes to this specific issue, so we’re going to try to educate our growers. Most of the German supermarkets demand a maximum of five substances of pesticides on a 30% level of the EU regulations. Year by year we have more producers reaching this goal. Apples aren't the only product we're trying to improve, we also want to educate growers for soft fruit in the summer. We want to create educational programs for the growers, to we can take steps towards even better quality of our soft fruit.”
Fruit-Group will be attending Fruit Logistica in Berlin. You can find them in the City Cube Hall, Stand D15!