The Polish blueberry season is expected to kick off in about two weeks. The weather has been pretty kind to the blueberries, with major frosts not making an appearance this year. Volumes should be strong, and there will be opportunities for both export as well as the domestic market.
Sandra Stefaniak-Syguła, owner of Polish berry exporter BerryTrade, states that the weather in Poland has been pretty good with the upcoming blueberry season in mind, although the season might be slightly delayed: “According to our knowledge, there haven't been any major freezes in Poland this spring, which typically happen around the end of April and the start of May. On top of that, the winter has been milder in general this year. Spring was rather cold in Poland, therefore the harvesting of significant volumes of blueberries in Poland should be delayed by about seven to ten days compared to last year, which will no sooner than between the 15th and 20th of July.”
According to Stefaniak-Syguła, it might take a few weeks for the blueberry season to really get going, as there will be competition and local production available. “Since there have been no bigger problems with the weather so far, the volumes from Poland should be very good. Exporting opportunities in July could be limited, due to the huge amounts of blueberries expected from local production in Western countries, as well as competition from other big producing countries, like Romania and Ukraine. As I said, Poland should start the main season not sooner than the 15th to the 20th of July. It means that August should be a very good sales month for Polish growers, because we hope that by that time local blueberries in German-speaking countries and other importing countries from the West will be already finishing up their season.”
The Polish domestic market has also proven to be a solid market to sell the blueberries to, Stefaniak-Syguła explains. “The local Polish market is also very promising, as the blueberry consumption in Poland is constantly rising and unlike some years ago, blueberry is now a commodity that is available 365 days of the year in all Polish shops. The product is also strongly promoted by various growers' associations and by retailers themselves, in commercials or on billboards.”
The war in Ukraine has changed the outlook when it comes to available labor in Poland, as Ukrainian men would usually come work in the fields, but will not be able to this year: “It is already noticeable that we are missing male employees from Ukraine. They are not allowed to leave their country due to war-time mobilization. There are many women from Ukraine that came to Poland a few months ago, fleeing from war-torn Ukraine. They are willing to take up jobs, especially in companies like ours; located in big cities or very close to big cities. However, it is important to mention that Polish company owners have to also help these people find places at kindergartens for their children, find flats and such.”
“Another challenge that we are facing now is the fact there aren’t enough drivers, as many Ukrainian drivers working at Polish companies had to leave to fight in the war, or are not allowed to leave Ukraine. This, together with exorbitant gasoline costs, increases the transport cost or makes it challenging to find transport for our berries. The first two weeks of our season in July could also be very challenging, but August and beginning of September should be a very good time for Polish blueberries. This is before Peru starts with big volumes.” Stefaniak-Syguła concludes.