A regular blueberry season may no longer be a thing in Poland, as the seasons seem to be shifting as a result of climate change. This is a challenge that must be faced, along with increasing costs and a decreasing availability of labor.
For the Polish Berry Cooperative, it seemed as if the blueberry season was everything but normal. Dominika Korarzewska claims climate change had an effect: “The season started really early, about three to four weeks earlier than it normal does. Unfortunately this meant that we had fruit at the same time as a number of other European countries, including Serbia and Portugal. These countries in turn had a later season than usual. Due to the early start we also finished earlier; on some farms things ended at the beginning of August. With climatic change now evident, we think the concept of a ‘regular season’ may no longer be valid.”
The volumes in 2018 were similar to the volumes in 2017, however the challenges were a lot bigger than before, says Korarzewska. “The shift of the season was a big challenge in 2018, but an even bigger one for the future is the growing cost and decreasing availability of workers. This will affect margins in the short term, but in the long term it will require Polish growers to take strategic decisions like replacing old varieties, or focusing on quality even more, rather than on quantity.”
The challenges keep on coming, as Brexit is another point of worry for Polish exporters. “The UK is still the biggest Polish export market, with Germany following suit. In terms of exports; Brexit and the ensuing uncertainty that we are now facing is actually another big challenge. We believe that the issues related to customs and phytosanitary controls of fruit entering the UK may have a huge impact on the market. If it doesn’t this year, then it definitely will in the future.”
With the UK becoming a more difficult market, the Polish Berry Cooperative is exploring opportunities elsewhere: “We would like to strengthen our presence on South-East Asian markets, hence together with growers from Spain and Portugal we launched European Berry Growers, the largest entity of this kind in Europe. Together, we can offer fruit to Asian markets practically year-round,” says Korarzewksa. “But we can also increase our market share as Polish growers by focusing on providing consistent quality throughout the season. Increasing the production under tunnels or rain sheds seems crucial here. Optical sorting is also key to providing high quality and it is definitely the future of the blueberry market.”
The Polish Berry Cooperative will also be attending Fruit Logistica in Berlin. They are bringing some muscle to make an impression: “This year, together with TopChef and MasterChef finalists we want to show how Polish cuisine can become slimmer and lighter through the use of blueberries. We feel that it is our responsibility as growers to support the key health trends. Fruit Logistica is definitely the place to be for any major fruit supplier. We meet a lot of existing and potential clients and are able to see the most important trends in the industry.” Korarzewska concludes.
You can find the Polish Berry Cooperative in Hall B, Citycube, Stand E-18.
For more information:
Polish Berry Cooperative
Tel. +48 602 354 586