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Poland concerned about the increase in apple production

Poland concerned about the increase in apple production

There are worries in Poland that the country is becoming too dependent on apple production. Poland ranks third in terms of production area in Europe (167,000 hectares), and is the fastest growing of the EU’s main producers, with an 11% in the past five years, compared with average growth for the EU of 0.4%. Besides apples, the Polish are not ranked highly in any other fruit statistics, while its EU neighbours have all diversified their production. Jakub Olipra, an economist at Credit Agricole, believes that this could lead to a significant oversupply of the fruit in Poland. Moreover, if the price of apples on the international markets falls, then the whole sector will suffer from such overdependency on just one product.


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EU support for Polish apples – a demand to restore market balance

EU support for Polish apples – a demand to restore market balance

Fruit growers of the area of Limburg (Flanders) have started a petition to denounce the bad economic situation of their companies. The Limburg fruit growers are suffering greatly from the consequences of the Russian embargo because they have lost their most important sales market. In the meantime, efforts have been made to open new markets, but they do not compensate for the loss of the Russian market. In addition, the Limburg fruit growers are looking at very low sales prices for their apples and pears. At the same time, they are seeing considerable investments in Polish fruit growing, particularly in the apple species Pink Lady, with European subsidies representing a thorn in the eye. In the petition it is said that “Europe has massively supported the production of apples in Poland, which has destabilised the European market”. They therefore ask the EU to find a solution to restore the market balance.

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Adverse weather leads to Poland’s apple production plunging by 34.7% in 2017

manzana polonia

In 2017, following a record harvest in 2016, Poland’s overall fruit production plummeted by around 34.7% to 2.7 million tons. The dramatic drop in production was mainly due to frost damage and difficult conditions during the final harvesting phase. However, conditions differed greatly from orchard to orchard, even within the same fruit farm. According to GUS data, Poland’s total apple production was almost a third lower than during the previous year – 2.4 million tons. Nevertheless, where frost damage did not occur, there were instances of high yields and good fruit quality.

The scale of loss depended on the plantations’ varieties, age and location. The least affected varieties were Champion, Gala and Gloster, while the most affected variety was the Idared, which is the most produced apple in Poland. On some plantations, losses reached nearly 100%, but in general, there was just a lower amount of fruit on trees. In many cases, poor fruit quality was also recorded as the fruit was misshapen by the frosts and, in some places, by hail, diseases and pests. There were reports of physiological and fungal diseases.

As for other fruits, Poland’s pear production was similarly affected, with a 32.3% lower harvest than the previous year. Plum volumes were almost half the level of 2016, while cherry production was over 60% less than in the previous year. Apricots and peaches also suffered a heavy toll from the adverse weather conditions according to the Central Statistics Office.

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Peppers more popular in Poland

They rank third among vegetables grown in Poland, with 1,400 ha in covered area and a 90,000 ton crop.

After tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers come third in terms of area for growing vegetables under cover in Poland. The bell pepper harvest from open-field cultivation is much smaller than that grown under cover. In 2014, 23 ,000 tons were harvested, followed by 28,000 tons the next season and about 34,000 tons forecast for this season. Over 2009-2014, Poland’s bell pepper exports grew from 9,000 to 19 ,000 tons, most going to CIS countries. Agricultural greenhouse farms growing peppers are spread all over Poland, but the commodity production occurs mainly in the area of Mazovian, Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Łódzand Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeships. About 90% of the peppers grown are red and the rest are yellow, orange or of another type, such as violet.

40,000 tons from the Przytyk province

Radom is presently the biggest area of pepper cultivation in Poland. One of the leading producers of pepper is the farm of Barbara and Grzegorz Małek, located in the Przytyk region. “Przytyk is the heart of the Polish pepper cultivation. The region‘s pepper crop totals about 40 ,000 tons a year, from around 2,000 farms and over 30,000 foil tunnels on a combined area of over 800 ha and 1,500 ha of open field cultivation.

“For example, in just one village in Przytyk, peppers are being grown by 220 farmers in a total of 3,000 tunnels for over 6,000 tons of this vegetable a year,” estimates Grzegorz Małek. Peppers are its main production in greenhouses, with 62 ha of covered crops. It is located in the biggest pepper area in Poland, in a central part of Mazowieckie district. Members of its producers group also grow yellow, green and white peppers. This region boasts favourable climatic conditions, having warmer weather and 44 less frost days than in neighbouring areas. Farmers from Przytyk have started to combine in bigger organisations that allow them to produce a great er volume of peppers with customised and standardised parameters and therefore to be able to sell their produce more profitably, Małek said. More than 20 pepper varieties are currently under cultivation, mainly mixed varieties originally from the Netherlands.

This article appeared in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that edition online here.
Read more pepper news here.

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Polish producers dream of Silk Road to China

Poland hopes to deliver 4 to 5% of its produce to the Asian market.

The Grójec region started shipping apples to China this autumn after the visit from a large Chinese delegation last spring that included 20 representatives of importers, distributors and commercial organisations interested in importing Polish apples.

“The delegation included Chinese apple organizations from the province of Fujian, who were greatly impressed by our modern machines and sorting line in our group’s packhouse,” said Bartłomiej Brodzik, manager of the grower’s group Appolonia. The visit bore fruit because days later Appolonia signed the first contract for a shipment of 40,000 tons of apples to China.

“We see great perspectives for beginning cooperation. For our group and the whole Polish apple sector, it is a great opportunity to sell our excess volume, which wait in warehouses all winter or get stored until early spring,” Brodzik said. 

Other varieties and new markets needed

This relevant opportunity for export to China also raises other difficulties for Polish growers. “Our apple varieties, which were traditionally sold in tens of thousands of tons to Russia, don’t exactly suit Chinese consumers. We need to develop bicoloured, softer and juicier varieties that would better meet their preferences. This is a structural change that will take some years,” Brodzik said.

Another factor that influences apple sales is the rather low price of apples in the Polish market now. For the time being, the price of dessert apples for processing has been so low that harvesting them has not been economically justified.

“The long-term price forecast isn’t too optimistic for our apple producers,” underlines Brodzik. The growers’ groups in the Grójec region are also actively looking at sales opportunities in other markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East to give a chance to export fruit surplus and further develop the sector.

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Piotr i Pawel’s innovation in the F&V space

Piotr i Paweł, one of Poland’s biggest supermarket chains, is once again promoting a range of innovations in fruit and vegetables in stores nationwide

Piotr i Paweł, one of Poland’s biggest supermarket chains, is once again promoting a range of innovations in fruit and vegetables in stores nationwide.

Special areas where customers can try fresh fruit and vegetables, new sections featuring wooden tables and racks for fresh organic produce, and new stands promoting produce that is not familiar to the Polish – such as collard, black salsify and exotic fruit – are among the measures.

“We have been using the slogan ‘Cheaper than you think’ to promote a line of vegetables including Polish tomatoes, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce and also peaches grown in Małopolska, in southern Poland. And we have the ongoing promotion of our own brand products with the ‘Always Quality’ tagline,” said Jacek Grzyb, from Piotr i Paweł’s fruit and vegetable sales department.

“Fruit and vegetables account for about 10% of all our products. In 2015 our general turnover increased 5.6% to 2.12 billion zlotys, making Piotr i Paweł one of Poland’s most fastest growing food retailers.

“The same year, our fruit and vegetable sales totalled over 200 million zlotys,” Grzyb said.

“Right now in Poland there is a trend towards demand for better quality food, particularly in regard to fruit and vegetables and especially among young and middle-aged professionals.

“We are also trying to introduce our customers to lesser known vegetables such as topinambur and pitahaya. These specialty items will be sold in the majority of our outlets in different regions across the country,” he said.

Founded in 1990 and fully Polish-owned, Piotr i Paweł is also well-known for the premium class products offered in its expanding food store chain.

“In just two years we have opened over 130 new stores in 61 towns across the country. The average sales area is 1,100 m² and our assortment is up to 27,000 different articles.

“The number of our private label products has increased to 1,000 items and covers various categories of products. Piotr i Paweł is able to compete with other retailers whose fruit and vegetables are often cheaper,” Grzyb said.

Focus on medium size cities

Regarding the constant development of the fruit and vegetable sections in Piotr i Paweł supermarkets, there is a need to ask how the retailer will develop its purchase strategy in years to come concerning various categories of fresh produce.

“Our main task in the near future is to invest over €9 million each year from our sales revenue in making our shops more attractive for our customers.”

And while Piotr i Paweł plans to build new supermarkets in Poland’s medium size towns, it won’t neglect bigger cities.

“In Warsaw alone we have six supermarkets and plan to open more,” Grzyb said.

Piotr i Paweł now has 138 stores, including one opened in late October in Warsaw’s Koszykowa St.


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Fresh produce sales on the rise in top Polish convenience chain

Zabka Polska, the leading convenience store chain in Poland, now boasts fresh produce sales worth the equivalent of more than US$ 150 million.

Zabka Polska, the leading convenience store chain in Poland, now boasts fresh produce sales worth the equivalent of more than US$ 150 million In the last two years, its turnover from fresh fruit and vegetables has risen about 3-4% compared to in 2012/13.

And 2015 was a particularly good year, with Zabka’s fresh produce sales rising 6.2% on 2014 despite the Russian food embargo.

Its sales of apples, for example, increased by 4,000 tons, a gain of 15% on the previous year. And the chain expects to end 2016 having rung up 2-3% more in fruit and vegetable sales.

“Citrus sales in 2015 have also increased but not in all the categories. Tangerines and oranges were up 0.4% and banana sales improved by 1.5% but the sale of other exotic fruit fell about 0.8%,” said Zabka press secretary Anna Jarzebowska-Kwiatek.

Since 2013, Zabka has been on a quality improvement drive and now avoids lower quality fruit. All fruit arriving at its depots is carefully inspected, Jarzebowska-Kwiatek said.

Founded 18 years ago, today Zabka operates in almost every part of Poland – from small towns to big cities. Polish consumers now have a Zabka outlet on almost every street corner so they visit these shops more often than bigger supermarkets, which are located further away.

By the end of December, it will have launched 417 new stores in 2016, bringing its total number of outlets to almost 3,600.

“Next year we plan to maintain the same rate of openings, however everything will depend on the current economic and political situation,“ Jarzebowska-Kwiatek said.

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New liaisons & outlooks from Poland’s Fresh Market and Fruit Expo

The Fresh Market Conference and Fruit Expo provides a platform for the biggest and most dynamic fresh produce companies from Poland and abroad to present their offerings, attract trade partners and establish lasting business relations.

This year’s Fresh Market Conference and Fruit Expo were held on September 23 at the Mazurkas Hotel in Ożarów Mazowiecki.

For many Polish vegetable and fruits producers it was their big opportunity of the year to establish business contacts in person with Poland’s top retail chains and to find clients from 15 other countries.

The conference provides a platform for the biggest and most dynamic fresh produce companies from Poland and abroad to present their offerings, attract trade partners and establish lasting business relations.

It brought together in one place representatives of the biggest retail chains from Poland, Russia and Belarus, such as Biedronka, Tesco, Carrefour, Intermarche, Selgros, Makro, Piotr & Paweł and Marcpol. 

Furthermore, over 130 companies from Poland, Italy, Spain, France, Chile, Ukraine, Holland, Egypt, Denmark, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Turkey and Greece participated in the conference. 

The event’s matchmakers helped attendees connect with the most appropriate people and companies present. 

And a series of lively panel discussions featuring fruit and vegetable sector experts, including representatives of fresh produce group and leaders from wholesale markets, provided further opportunities to make contacts and exchange information and views, such as on the current trade situation, prices and forecasts for coming months and next season.

Panels paint ways forward for Polish sector

One panel discussed the very difficult situation facing Polish orchardists, with input from Waldemar Żółcik from the Active Company, Polish fruit federation Appolonia president Michał Lachowicz, and Witold Boguta from the National Union of Fruit and Vegetables Producer Groups.

Lachowicz said a solution for Polish apple growers and exporters is to focus on the production of varieties that appeal to and will be bought by customers worldwide, a move requiring some restructure in Polish orchards.

Boguta said given the very low apples price at the moment, Polish growers do not have the financial means to increase their commercial activity.

Lachowicz argued for Polish fruit growers to unite in bigger organisations. In his opinion, such commercial organisations can not only provide representation for their members but have more clout in negotiations in foreign markets.

In a separate panel, the discussion focused on the permanent impact of the Russian embargo on imports of Polish vegetables.

Panelist Michał Groblewski, from the fruit and vegetable producer association Cuiavia, said the way forward is, with support of government agencies, to increase the promotion of Polish vegetables as much as possible in other markets around the globe.

Mirosław Łuska, from the association representing Polish pepper producers, said the fact that Poland’s pepper growers do not present a united front in foreign markets makes it harder to achieve export efficiency. However, while the Russian embargo has also taken its toll on Poland’s pepper growers, they have found new sale channels in different countries and even on other continents.

Farmgate sales of organic produce to take off in Poland

A third panel discussed the situation and outlook for organic fruit and vegetables in Poland and worldwide.

Urszula Sołtysiak from the company Agro Bio Test said there has been a big rise in the production and sale of organic products, especially fresh produce, and this is likely to be an enduring consumer trend.

Dorota Metera from the Bio Ekspert company said retail chains now sell much more organic produce than they did 3-4 years ago. Many supermarkets in Poland today have vast sections dedicated to organic products and their ‘eco’ stands are often surrounded by customers who value the health benefits of organic produce.

There was also discussion of the use of other sales channels – such as e-commerce – for organic produce.

Another channel involves direct sales by the growers themselves. Panelists said this farm-direct method is expected to take off in Polish villages when new rules come into effect on January 1 that allow organic farmers to sell their fresh produce without being hampered by red tape.


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Greenhouse Tomatoes: a greater role on the Polish scene

Poland’s greenhouse vegetables grew just 2% in 2015 to reach 1 million tons. Poland is in sixth position in Europe, with 5% of the market share.

Poland’s greenhouse vegetables grew just 2% in 2015 to reach 1 million tons. Poland is in sixth position in Europe, with 5% of the market share.

The cultivation area of tomatoes under cover varies from 1,500 ha to 2,600 ha, and in open fields from 8,000 ha to 13,000 ha. Approximately 70% of the area of ground tomatoes is located in the Greater Poland, Kuyavian-Pomeranian, Mazovian and Świ tokrzyskie voivodeship regions.

Since 2004, open-field harvests of tomatoes have grown by 28%, and those under cover by 46%. In 2015, approximately 66% of harvested tomatoes were from cultivation under cover, and the other 34% from open-field cultivation.

Since Poland’s entry to the EU, fresh tomato exports have risen from 45,000 tons to 99,000 tons— i.e. more than double—and they account for about 11% of production.

The main direction for exports is the CIS countries and, among the EU member states, the UK.

The country’s tomato production will have increased by 1.5%, reaching 570,000 tons of greenhouse-grown vegetables, as in 2014, representing approximately 19% of Poland’s total vegetable harvest, according to a report from the Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment (IAFE).

Market under pressure

This was mainly due to delays in supply for the Polish market from southern EU countries due to unfavourable weather conditions during the autumn, which reduced the impact of the Russian embargo on vegetable prices in the domestic market.

The effects of the Russian embargo on prices are expected to be even greater in the second quarter of 2016, as soon as the domestic harvest starts.

This year most of the tomato production is staying in Poland. Because of this, Polish growers like Artur Matysiak from the Kalisz region have had more tomatoes available and prices have been under pressure.

Despite this context, Matysiak said Polish greenhouse tomato producers have already been working for years to adapt to changing conditions in the Polish market.

“Supermarket chains demand high quality, and while there is demand, it is mostly for good quality and the best varieties. We have specialised in premium products, so for us this situation is favorable.”

In fact, this is reflected in sales figures, which are growing every year. The farm, which has achieved success with its long-term business plan, is consequently far from discouraged by the situation caused by the embargo.

“Our farm is already one of the biggest in Central Poland, and we want to continue investing because high quality products are the future in the Polish market,” Matysiak said. Also, with the best technologies implemented in our greenhouses (such as growing lamps in winter), our production has grown compared to the previous year.

New greenhouses

As far as development is concerned, the Matysiak farm is in fact currently in the process of building new greenhouses with an area of 5 ha, which will be added to the 4 ha it already has. “Next year, we will also start to build on at least another 5 ha,” the tomato producer said.

When it comes to the development and introduction of new varieties, “We are open to new varieties if our clients demand them, and we are currently testing a few. The most popular in Poland are raspberry tomatoes (pink beef tomatoes), which is the variety that people usually grow in their small house-garden greenhouses and the one we are specialised in,” Matysiak said.

He stressed the importance of specialisation, with newly-specialised production of vine tomatoes, plum tomatoes and sweet and cherry tomatoes. All in all, this year Matysiak expects to produce 2,200 tons, taking all varieties into account, and expects to develop sales to Germany and Central Europe.

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Entries open for Fresh Market Poland’s product of the year title

Fresh Market – Poland's annual meeting of fruit and vegetable suppliers and buyers – takes place September 23 this year in Warsaw.

Are you introducing a new variety of cabbage, a different form of packaged vegetables, innovative packaging or cutting edge technological solutions for the fruit and vegetable industry?

Entries are open until August 20 for the Product of the Year award at the 2016 edition of the Fresh Market event in Poland.

Taking place September 23 in Warsaw, Fresh Market 2016 is billed as a meeting of suppliers and buyers of fruit and vegetables and the Fresh Market Award as an opportunity to present products and service to 400,000 sector clients from Poland and Europe.

Any product or service to the fruit and vegetable industry may be put forward as a candidate for the Product of the Year title, including new varieties of fruit and vegetables, or those already known but involving new creative packaging, technical equipment or services.

As well as an all-day exhibition with stands of companies offering trade and services, this 9th edition of Fresh Market has a programme designed to help attendees make as many valuable contacts as possible, including allowing participants to make appointments with representatives from given retail chains.

There will also be lectures by experts and panel discussions on issues relating to the fruit and vegetable trade and market trends and outlooks.

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