For most Polish apple traders the season is shaping up to be very challenging. For one Polish apple exporter the situation is less dire. Their growers were not impacted by the extreme weather as much and they expect to grow their market share in their primary market India.
Although the Polish apple situation has been difficult for most, Poland Fruit is still full of optimism when it comes to their season. The harvest is almost complete and the apples are being made ready for long-distance transportation, as their main market is found in India. “Our apples are already placed in the CA cold chambers and fruit preservation procedures are being applied. The entire process of preparing the material for preservation should be completed within one week. Afterwards the apples will be properly secured and ready for long-distanced shipments,” says Pawel Sokolowski, general director for Poland-Fruit.
“Our company has been progressing according to plan; the first shipment to India was sent in September and the full export season should start by the end of October onwards. There might be some issues in terms of limited availability of reefer containers. However with our trusted logistics partner ADECON, we don’t expect to be impacted by this phenomenon.”
The total Polish apple harvest is expected to be half of what last year’s crop was. However for Poland-Fruit the situation might not be as dire, they even hope to export more than they did previous season: “In general, the volumes to be shipped are expected a bit lower than assumed before the season. This is simply due to limited availability of the top-notch material. The total volume of apple crops this season in Poland is estimated at only 50 per cent of last year’s bumper season. On top of that, there are some inconsistencies with the quality like russeting caused by the April frosts. Hence, the fruit needs to be sorted more thoroughly to eliminate all imperfections, resulting in smaller quantities available for exports,” Sokolowski stated. “Luckily our growers were less impacted by the weather abnormalities, so we still are able to offer a top product with a fairly competitive price. We’re still aiming to double our export volumes compared to last year, but of course this all depends on the final supply.”
For Poland-Fruit, India is their main market. The situation in Kashmir does make the season more complicated, says Sokolowski. “The season in India started earlier this year. This is because of the difficult situation in Kashmir; a region that supplies India with domestic apples. Due to political tensions and military escalation, the region was cut off from the rest of India. This excludes trade resulting in shortage of apples in the entire country. Clearly, it induces imports of foreign material, which is exactly what we’re seeing now. French and Italian apples, which were harvested earlier, benefit from this situation. We haven’t faced any problems with our first shipment to India. Also, our partners in India haven’t reported any problems whatsoever in regards to the export of fruit to India.”
“India is our number one market, as we know it well and have a trusted partner there in Sheemit Agro-Fresh. However, we’re in constant contact with our partners in Nigeria, who are ready to receive our produce anytime – in Lagos itself there are 40 containers of apples being liquidated every single week,” Sokolowski explains. “The problem is the current lower supply of the Polish apple and our commitments towards our existing customers. Senegal and other African countries are other promising markets. Once we get familiar with our African partners, we expect a boost of trade with that region of the world.”
Last year was a bumper crop with bottom prices, this year is vastly different. The increase in prices can not solely be put on the lesser availability though, as there have been more countries that show interest in the Polish apples: “The price increase is significant comparing to last season - reaching 40-50% hike. This derives from a couple of factors: drastically lower yield, sky-rocketing hike of industrial apples prices (consumption apples prices followed them) and an ever-growing demand for the Polish apples which were able to establish a solid reputation over a couple of years. This season we are encountering interests from countries like the USA or Chile, which didn’t happen before. This clearly shows that Polish apple is getting its proper place on the world market. We don’t expect the prices to drop significantly, on the contrary – we might even experience growth as clearly demand excesses supply.” Sokolowski concludes.
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