Ukraine is preparing for a tough apple season, just like in the rest of Europe. Frosts and hail during springtime and the start of summer damaged quite a large amount of apples. Only a couple of regions in Ukraine managed to avoid it. Weather is perfect at the moment, so Ukrainian growers are getting ready for the harvest of very sensitive varieties.
Maxim Kulik is the CEO of Ukrainian trading company, Vinaigrette. They’ve been harvesting apples for a couple of weeks now. According to Kulik, it’ll be a rough season. “The season of 2019-2020 will be hard everywhere, including Ukraine. Frosts and hails during the spring and the beginning of summer has damaged a lot of fruits, only a few regions in Ukraine avoided it. Luckily our crops were in these areas where damages weren’t too severe, when we started harvesting two weeks ago we get confirmation of that. From experience I know we shouldn’t store any hail-damaged fruits and should sell them all before the new year starts. It has provided quite a few opportunities for us.”
Currently the weather in Ukraine is as good as it can be. Kulik is hopeful the weather will stay as it is: “During the summer and at this moment weather as been perfect for apples; lots of sun, enough water and temperature difference between night and day. It’s resulted in good coloring and a solid shape for almost all varieties. However, the frost and hail in spring threw a monkey wrench in the plans of a lot of farmers. We really hope that the weather will be same as it is now for the next three-to-four weeks. During this time we should be able to collect the most sensitive varieties, which should be harvested very carefully. Good weather will make this process a lot easier.”
The European apple harvest in general will provide less volume than the previous season. The same goes for Ukraine, although forecasts are not completely clear on the exact numbers. “Different forecasts are saying different things, but the lesser amount usually comes down to 10%, 20% or 30%. However we can be sure about our volumes once we have fully completed the harvest. For now our company expects to export around 5,000 to 10,000 tons, but this will depend on the weather the next three-to-four weeks.”
For Vinaigrette, the main export market for their apples is the United Kingdom. However they also have a market share in Scandinavian countries and several Asian countries as well, like Singapore and Malaysia. “For the last couple of years we’ve tried to build a supply chain to African countries, because it’s a huge and fast growing market. This season we expect to be able to do a couple of trial shipments to this region,” Kulik explains. “We’re offering all of our clients the top 5 varieties; Royal Gala, Golden, Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Pinova. However, we’re also cultivating about 7-10 other varieties, which also could be exported. These are less known abroad, but examples are Remo, Jonagold and Jonaprince.”
The European war on plastic is an interesting one for Vinaigrette, says Kulik. “Like always we have carton boxes. There are the 12kg boxes with 2 layers and 18kg with 5 layers. They’re branded with our logo and info, as we care about our brand on every market we supply to and it’s important for us. The European trend for non-plastic packaging is really interesting for us and we’ve already started some trial packaging on the local market to enhance our packaging even more.” Kulik concludes.