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Poland: Poor harvest and low prices - blackcurrant producers not breaking even

This year's season has not been very good for soft fruit growers. Prices barely cover the cost of production, not to mention the farmers' own labour. If the yield was normal this year, the price of 1.20 PLN (0.28 EUR) per kilogram of blackcurrants wouldn’t be so bad. The problem is that the producers will harvest about 70 percent less than they did last year.

Wiesław Błocki from Siemiatycze, a producer of blackcurrants in the Podlasie region, stresses that the exceptionally low harvest this year was caused by several factors: last year's drought, spring frosts and this year's drought. This year, he will harvest just 30 percent of the amount harvested last year. He admits that last year was extremely fertile. He gets 1-1.20 PLN (0.23 - 0.28 EUR) per kilogram of blackcurrants.

“Unfortunately, this year, when the yield is so low, these prices don’t even cover the production costs,” says the grower.

According to him, in order for the growers to cover their production costs, the price should oscillate around 2.50 - 3.00 PLN (0.59 - 0.70 EUR). Therefore, Błocki thinks that in the coming days the price of these fruits has to increase somewhat.

“The fruit processing plants must eventually realise that there is so much less raw material,” he explains.

Damian Godlewski, soft fruit producer from Wyszonki Kościelne, is also disappointed. As he notes, the biggest problem is with gooseberries. “The plants don’t want to buy it even for 0.40 PLN (0.09 EUR) per kilogram,” he says. “They explain that they still have reserves from previous seasons.”

Godlewski has 25 tons of gooseberry for sale. In his situation, the only option is to try and sell it on markets. But the grower has no doubt that in this way, he will not be able to sell everything.

He sells blackcurrants for 1.20 - 1.30 PLN (0.28 - 0.34 EUR) per kilogram, and red currants for 0.10 - 0.20 PLN (0.023 - 0.046 EUR) less per kilogram. The price he gets this year is about twice as high as last year, when it was so low that the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, the Minister of Agriculture, and the National Support Centre for Agriculture were investigating complaints about whether fruit prices were shaped illegally and affected by the unequal position of the producers and contractors in terms of their bargaining power.

This year the price is still not satisfactory, particularly for red currants, which last year were more expensive than black ones.

At Godlewski's plantation, the yield this year will also be much smaller. He estimates that it will be only around 30-40 percent of last year's harvest. Though for him too, last year’s harvest was record-breaking.

“If we compare it to the long-term average, this year's harvest will amount to about 50 percent,” says Godlewski.

Like Błocki, he concludes that the price is too low to cover production costs. Perhaps if the cost of labour and operation of machines were discounted, one could say it’s enough to break even.

“With the usual yield, it would be a profitable price," says Godlewski.



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