Energy costs are becoming a real problem in Poland. Prices could be quadrupled once the new year starts and some companies could be shutting down their operation partly. Either by reducing the amount of hours that people work in the packhouses, or by shutting some of the packing lines down completely. Whether it will still be worth storing the apples in cold rooms for later selling is unsure, but the only exporters that can take that risk are the ones with a lot of savings in the bank, one exporter claims.
Weather conditions in Poland have not been ideal in each region, says Emilia Lewandowska, office manager for Polish apple exporter Fruit-Group. Luckily, the most important regions for cultivating apples have been okay: “As most will know, a major part of Europe is dealing with a severe drought. The western part of Poland has the same issue. Fortunately, the largest apple orchards in Poland are located in the central and southern part of our country. These regions have seen rain and thus were not affected by any of the drought-related issues. Our trees are hydrated and the size of the apples will be appropriate for each of the varieties.”
Right now, the weather has been pretty good for the final stretch, Lewandowska explains. “As in every summer, we did see hail in these regions, but it was a regional atmospheric phenomenon. For the last two weeks the weather conditions have been good for the apples’ needs; during the night we’ve had temperatures of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, while it was between 20 to 23 degrees during the day. It means our apples are getting a nice blush.”
The most pressing issue for any Polish company is the fact that energy prices are getting out of hand. Lewandowska states some companies will shut down parts of their operations to not go under: “Our cost of energy will increase four times in the next year. Growers are wondering how long they will financially survive while keeping apples in cool storages. On the packhouses side some companies are considering to only work part-time, or to turn off some of their packing lines to save some money in energy costs.”
The big questions is whether storing apples in cold rooms will be worth the cost. Lewandowska says it’s hard to predict, and a lot of companies will play safe and just sell their inventory, rather than storing the apples: “We will know in August 2023 if storing apples in cold storage has been worth the costs. The truth is that part of the growers will sell all of their apples in the autumn, simply because of the financial issues that come with storing the apples longer term. Higher costs of chemicals and labor have ensured that these companies don’t have any more savings, so they have no other options but to sell.
"However, the growers who still have some savings could probably take a risk and keep some apples in storage for higher prices. If the prices from the season of 2021/2022 stay in place, it will be definitely not be worth it to store the apples. Overall costs went up by 30 per cent.”