Igor Milenković, director of Serbian apple exporter Delta Agrar, expects a challenging season for Serbian apples this year. “There are definitely many uncertainties for the Serbian apple season this year, especially related to the Russian market, which is still the main export market for our apples. General inflation will also play a significant role, as labor, fuel, packaging material and electricity costs are increasing dramatically. In terms of production, there is a huge impact of climate change. We’ve been facing extremely high temperatures during the summer months for two seasons already, which is affecting the quality of the apples. All these factors, together with labor shortages, indicate that Serbian, but also other apple growers and exporters in the world, are about to face many challenges throughout the season.“
Due to the weather conditions in Serbia during the spring, there could very well be lower production this season, Milenković explains. “Serbia annually produces more than 500,000 tons of apples, with a total acreage of around 27,000ha. However, this season we expect around 10 per cent lower yield, due to the frost that we experienced during the spring period. In the previous season, a total of around 160.000t of apples were exported from Serbia, and today we have an important role in the world apple market. As Delta, we have two orchards with a total surface of 700 ha. This year we expect to harvest more than 30,000 tons of apples. Delta Agrar is an exclusive producer and distributor of club apples, such as Pink Lady, Evelina, Modi, Kiku, Red Moon, Rubens, Isaaq, SweeTango, Magic Star, and we are planning to invest a lot in marketing and promotional activities in order to increase its awereness on each of the markets where we supply.“
As there are still difficulties with the Russian market, Delta had to branch out into new territories, which could help them significantly in the upcoming season, Milenković states. “Last year we made big step forward in terms of opening new markets, and we plan to continue in the same direction. For conventional apples, such as Royal Gala, Granny Smith and Red Delicious, our main markets will be the Middle and Far East, together with the United Kingdom, which is the second largest market in Europe for Serbian apples, after Russia. We also see potential on the African market, and that will be one of our focuses in the coming season. In Europe, we expect a lot from the UK market, as we have established strong partnerships there and plan to build and promote our brand ’Amelia’ and make it recognized as a premium quality brand. Beside Russia, during the previous season most of our products were exported to UAE, Saudi Arabia and India, and we are about to invest in strengthening our position there.“
“The war in Ukraine brought us many uncertainties. In the first place, the supply chain was damaged and the costs of transport to Moscow tripled. Currency exchange rates remain unstable, which was heavily influencing the import-export activities. Additionally, we had many situations where the transfer of money took much longer than usual. All in all, these geopolitical issues surely affected our business in the previous season, and nobody knows what we can expect in the coming period. One of the main goals will be to strengthen our position within the markets that I previously mentioned. We’re very happy to see that our brands are getting more popular day by day, in every country that we supply. There is still a big potential for Serbian apples on the world market, and we are about to work hard in order to achieve it.“ Milenković concludes.