One could describe the Polish apple season as one with ups and downs. According to multiple growers, the worst part is behind us and the Polish traders can finally focus on getting some return on their investments, claims Anna Litwin from Ewa-Bis.
The Polish apple market has been a volatile one, with crashed prices, a huge supply and issues with workers, but according to Anna Litwin, Sales Manager for Ewa-Bis, the season is going to be okay: “At the moment the market is really quiet, but this can be chalked up to people still enjoying their Christmas holiday. A lot of people only returned to their office last Monday, so I expect things to pick up again fairly soon. The season itself is going to be okay though, as we see prices rising slowly.”
Prices for industrial apples have gone up by two or three times since the middle of December, according to Litwin: “This also had its effect on the prices of apples on the fresh market, which are increasing as well. But let’s be clear about one thing; for growers the return still doesn’t cover the costs they have to make. Farmers are having a hard time getting their investment back.”
Thanks to the low prices, the apples are still very much in demand by European countries, says Litwin: “We export apples to Scandinavia, Spain, Germany, Holland, France, Denmark, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic… Honestly there’s a lot more European countries buying our apples. The most popular varieties are Gala Royal, Golden Delicious and of course Ida Red remains popular as a very cheap variety. I feel Poland doesn’t really have competitors when it comes to prices. The apples from Ukraine could be seen as a threat though, as their employee costs are much lower than ours. So it’s possible they are able to compete with our prices.”
According to Litwin, Asia is a very interesting market, but Polish growers still have a few steps to take before they can be a steady supplier for these countries: “To be able to export to India, we need to have very good quality apples, as they might not even make it to their destination in time if the quality is sub par. This means the most important thing we have to do going forward is to teach the farmers how to cultivate better apples. This is the hardest work, as it is very difficult to encourage the growers and convince them quality is more important than the quantity.”
A solution could be to direct the growers towards organic apples. “Ewa-Bis has been developing the organic sector for quite a few years and we see that every year the demand for organic apples is growing. Compared to conventional apples, it is still a small piece of the pie, but it’s a very interesting direction to take,” says Litwin. “For farmers it is more interesting as well, as the prices are a lot higher than the conventional apples. At the moment consumers are paying two, three or even four times as much for an organic apple. I don’t expect this huge gap to hold up for years to come though. I’d say a healthy situation would bring the prices of organic apples about 30 to 50 per cent higher than the prices of conventional apples.”
Ewa-Bis as a company is looking towards 2019 with the idea to overcome a couple of challenges: “For one Ewa-Bis would like to grow in the soft fruit sector. Apples will always be the main direction for us, but there is a lot to be gained with our soft fruit. We’d also like to develop in a certain niche, like Haskap berries,” Litwin explains. “And like I said earlier, we’d like to focus even more on organic cultivation. Not just for apples, but for our other produce as well. We’d like to introduce organic Haskepberries, blueberries, but also red, yellow and green peppers. Organic onions or carrots are also on the list, and actually many more kinds of organic fruits!”
Ewa-Bis will be present during Fruit Logistica in Berlin. You can find them in Hall TBB Stand D1512.