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Polish apple growers focus on Far and Middle East

The Russian ban on European goods has made it tough for Polish apple exporters. One of those exporters, Elpa Fruit, will look to weather the tough situation by diverting some of the fruit that was destined for the Russian market to the Far East.
“It will be a difficult year with a lot of challenges,” said Michal Grodzki, manager for Elpa Fruit. “It will be very difficult for Polish growers who sent their apples to Russia, and I'm especially worried for smaller growers, for whom bankruptcy is a very real possibility.” About 60 to 70 percent of the apples grown in Poland go to Russia and Belarus during normal years, so a huge part of this year's crop will need to go elsewhere. The domestic market only takes five percent of production, so it's not likely it can absorb much of what used to go to Russia. Western Europe has plenty of fruit of its own, so the competition there doesn't make that market a realistic option. But the Far and Middle East and North Africa are good options.

“Most Polish companies will focus on markets where they've already sent fruit,” said Grodzki. “You're always trying to find new markets, but we've already exported to the Netherlands, France, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Egypt,Tunisia and Scandinavia around 20% while 10% of our production to the domestic market.”

Serbia, Romania, Kuwait, India and China are all examples of new markets that could take additional fruit in the future, but the difficulty of securing new contacts and building an export program in a new territory means most exporters will focus on the Middle East.

“There are a lot of possibilities, but it's not easy to establish a new market. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work to find and work with new customers,” explained Grodzki. “So at the moment the main targets are the Emirates and Egypt, because they know our apples.” He noted that consumers in that region are familiar with their varieties and prefer red apples, like Royal Gala, Gloucester, Red Jonaprince, Golden Delicious and Ida Red varieties. Those apples are favored because consumers there know those varieties through their dealings with Western European brokers. But introducing new varieties may be an option, as consumers in the region simply aren't aware of most other varieties.
Without Russia as an export destination, there's more competition for the markets available. As a result, prices this year have been 40 to 50 percent lower than in previous years. It's a grim market, at the moment, but one which Polish growers are doing everything they can to weather.

“Russia is such a huge market, so I don't think we'll be able to switch all of the fruit we sent there to other markets – I wish it were possible, but it's probably not,” said Grodzki. “I just hope that the situation gets better in a few months.”
Contact details:
Michał Grodzki
Elpa Fruit Co. Ltd
Tel./fax: +48 48 668 00 04
Mobile : +48 502 093 397
Skype: elpafruit1
Author: Yzza Ibrahim / Carlos Nunez


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