A lack of workers is affecting everyone, not only in Poland but also in the rest of Europe. According to Jakub Krawczyk, export manager for Appolonia, there isn’t a simple solution to this problem: “I don’t think there could be one solution to deal with it because it’s a layered problem and you will need to have knowledge of every piece of the puzzle to find a solution. But what I can say is that workers from Ukraine have in Poland very good conditions to work.
"First of all it’s very close to their home country, mostly they are receiving accommodation in the same place where they work, the homes they stay in are new, modern and clean. They often receive extras, like additional food, transport, all help with law procedures and financial bonuses. They also have access to many program trainings that will help them gain promotion for higher positions. Many workers have been with us for many years and we know they are very happy working here.”
Many countries are dealing with labor shortages, but Krawczyk feels they’ll be alright, as Appolonia offers their employees from abroad sufficient incentives to come and work for the company: “We’ve noticed that there are more and more customers that need really big calibers of Golden Delicious. Now the standard is 75+, which is big caliber in Poland and I think we all still remember times when the standard was 65+. If we want to be present on Western markets with that variety, producing bigger caliber apples is very important. Also, in the past year the Champion variety lost its popularity for a while and not everyone had the option to sell their stock. Polish markets made good promotions for that variety a few weeks ago and it helped growers to sell it. It’s a very good thing to communicate with all market chains, because they are a very large receivers of local production and only with their help, we’re we able to sell all our harvest.”
Krawczyk emphasizes that apple prices will have to increase next season, as all of their costs have seen increases as well: “Keeping up with inflation is tough and if you add the higher production costs, like electricity or plant protection products, to the equation, you’re facing a really extreme situation. Near the end of the season price did increase slightly once there was a Governmental Funding Program in place, but still when you deduct the storing cost, the margin shrinks and you’re left with hardly any profit. And next year it will be even harder, because right now electricity is even 300% more expensive. So, imagine how high the prices for apples will need to be to cover those costs. Everyone sees that all products have increased in price, except for the apples. It’s really unfair and it shouldn’t be like that. Apple prices need to increase in the new season to at least cover our production costs.”
Appolonia will also include Bio-apples in their offering this season, Krawczyk says: “We hope that the season will not be as hard as everybody think it will be, and we’ll still be able to cooperate with customers we worked with before. Many doors have recently opened for us, for example in the new season we will have Bio-apples in our offer as well. We have also reached some customers that we had been wanting to work with and if the quality is as good as it was during the past season, we will have plenty of work ahead of us.”