Polish apples have been filling gaps left by the lower production of the Dutch and Belgian regions. Demand has been relatively slow overall, but thanks to solid agreements with supermarkets, it’s been a steady season so far. With increases in ordered volumes from Egypt right around the corner, the next few months will be rather busy for Appolonia.
For one Polish apple exporter, the apple season has been smooth sailing for the most part. According to Jakub Krawczyk, export manager for Appolonia, agreements with supermarkets have ensured their stability: “We haven’t had any difficulties worth mentioning when selling our apples season. This is in part due to the size of our consortium Appolonia, which is one of the largest in Poland.
"The consortium combines production capabilities of many packhouses and uses a diverse selling strategy for the various regions we export our produce to. We have signed agreements with a lot of supermarket chains, as well as other entities, for deliveries of Polish apples all year round, which gives us our guaranteed stability. From our experience, we know that every season is different and there are always random regions that end up ordering a lesser amount in a given season. This is why spreading our clientele all over the world is so important, as this can compensate for regions where demand lowers for one season.”
Although the apple production in Poland increases every year, it’s up to the weather how much of this production survives the season. Krawczyk states frost and hail loses Poland a significant amount of produce every year. “The biggest challenge for us as a producer, is increasing the production of apples in Poland. Every year the acreage increases with higher quality apples. Weather issues like frost and hail can be a natural limit to the production, which then balances the market. If we experienced a season without any of these weather issues, we would find ourselves in a different challenging situation, where Poland would suddenly have 6 million tons of apples in a single season. Finding the sweet spot is the hardest challenge we face.”
Demand for apples did see a dip overall, especially in countries where there is hardly any tourism due to the pandemic. Regions like Egypt are currently importing a minimum amount of apples, Krawczyk explains. “At the moment, demand is much lower in some regions because of the covid-situation. Lockdowns in UK or Spain did shut down sales in these regions completely for a while. In regions that now have less tourism like Egypt, which imports quite a large amount of our production, we’ve seen sales drop to a minimum level. However, as there was less apple production this season in the Netherlands and Belgium, we’ve been able to supply these countries with larger quantities of first-class apples like Jonagold, Jonagored and Red Jonaprince, for repacking and apples for peeling/processing, mostly in 300 kg bins. We’ve also been able to supply supermarket chains in Central and Eastern Europe with large volumes of apples and pears this year.”
The prices for apples have increased significantly compared to two years ago. Last year Krawczyk observed prices that were particularly high. This year prices are lower than they were then, but still relatively high: “During the previous season, we’ve seen extremely high prices, mostly due to lower production and the coronavirus during the second half of the season. This season the prices were also on a high level during the start. Nowhere near the extreme prices of last season, but still a price that wasn’t acceptable for every single market. This means our sales price is currently similar to the Italian apples. I expect the price to stay the same or even increase a little bit, just to cover some additional storing costs.”
The next few months will be busy ones for Appolonia, as Egypt will start ordering larger volumes ad well as their new warehouse will be finished: “We see in the quantities of apples that we have in our ULO chambers that there should be enough to ensure stable deliveries to our clients, mostly supermarkets, all year round. If there are no new lockdowns, which is quite hard to predict, we will also be able to supply our Western and Eastern European partners until end of the season. We’re not worried about the apples’ quality, especially when all our apples are SmartFreshed. We’re also selling larger volumes to Egypt starting this month, as well as to the Middle East and India, which keeps us optimistic despite the hard times we’re living in. By the end of these season we will also finish our investment in a new modern warehouse, with packing lines, which will give us the ability to sort an additional 20,000 tons of apples per year. Right now, our sales are around 120,000 tons per year.” Krawczyk concludes.