Some Polish exporters have already sold their entire apple stock for the season. Mohamed Marawan, owner of Polish apple exporter Sarafruit, states he’s not fond of storing apples in cooling chambers: “At the beginning of the Polish apple season there was strong demand, after a while the demand slowed down quite a bit. High prices for apples in Poland, combined with the difficulty of finding good quality apples, affected the demand, slowing it down. Our stocks of apples sold out about a month ago. Our experience taught us to never keep our apples in cooling chambers, waiting for increasing prices, just to make a few cents more. It’s more important for us to send good quality apples to our clients straight away. This way, we avoid any quality issues during the transportation, which can happen after keeping apples in cooling chamber for a long time.”
Normally trade would be great just ahead of the holiday season, but Marawan states this isn’t the case this year. “The Christmas is traditionally very attractive for apple growers, companies and traders. But this year, it’s totally different. Everything goes very slowly, there’s not much sales going on compared to previous Christmas periods, years ago or even last year. Polish apples are no longer competitive in foreign markets. The price is high and the Polish zloty is strong. Clients start searching for alternative countries to buy their apples from, that have attractive prices. We know that Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine, Moldavia and Bulgaria have started to produce really good quality apples, with a reasonable price, making them attractive for the clients.”
As prices are high and apples are hard to find, buyers of Polish apples are now looking toward alternative markets to import from, Marawan explains: “Many of the clients have turned to Turkey to buy apples, because they can’t find apples in Poland, can you believe it? So they’ve started to search wider for other countries to import their apples from. We export apples to Gulf countries and I heard from my customer that he’s starting to order more from Serbia, due to a lack of apples from us. This means our clients are definitely branching out to other origins.”
Polish apple growers had to deal with quite a few challenges during cultivation, and the impact of those challenges are being felt now. “The diseases among the apples definitely had an impact on the current situation. Looking at growers when we visit them to buy apples, we see that apples lose the hardness and also are rotten, and it’s only been two months since the harvest. This was caused by the hot temperatures in Poland during autumn. Growers were waiting for the coldest days before harvesting, to improve colour of apples, but the weather hasn’t work with us this time. Also fungal diseases, as well as a dry summer due to insufficient rain, affected the quality of the apples, meaning they can’t be stored for a long time in cooling chambers,” Marawan concludes.