Due to unfavourable weather conditions early in 2019, such as frost followed by hot, dry weather, Polish apple production for the year was estimated to be less than the 2018 record harvest.

The predicted volumes for the season are much lower than in previous years. This is due to frost that hit Poland in April, which severely damaged crops and reduced volumes to roughly 40 to 50% of previous years. This translates into approximately 3 to 3,2 million pounds, compared to approximately 5 million pounds in 2018.

Fourth largest apple producer

The Dutch Fruit Growers’ Association estimated Poland’s total apple production to be 3 million tons. The highest losses are estimated to be among the Jonagold, Ligol, and Red Delicious varieties. In general, better production is expected for Gala, Shampion, and Golden Delicious apples.

Poland is the fourth largest apple producer in the world and the biggest in the European Union (EU). Due to the low production volumes, role-players say it may be difficult for Poland to expand their markets.

Lower production is also expected for other fruit. These include pears, cherries, and, to a lesser degree, plums. Pear production is estimated to be 67 000 tons (-26%) and plums 95 000 tons (-20%). Cherry production is estimated at 155 000 tons of sour cherries (-22%) and 43 000 tons of sweet cherries (-28%).

Light at the end of the tunnel

Despite these challenges in the apple industry, the Polish National Support Centre for Agriculture (KOWR) recently published a report stating that since the beginning of 2019, an upward trend has been maintained in the export of agri-food commodities from Poland. The export value of agri-food commodities for the period from January to June 2019 amounted to €15,4 billion, more than 8% higher than the previous year. In addition, the import value stood at €10,4 billion, approximately 5% higher. As a result, the positive trade balance increased by around 17% to €5 billion.

Modern processing technologies, high-quality raw materials, manufacturing of traditional products based on original recipes, and an active policy in terms of Polish food promotion are some of the factors that contribute to the strong position of the agri-food sector in the international arena.

The EU remains the major trading partner of Poland. In the period from January to June 2019, deliveries of agri-food products to the EU countries accounted for about 82% of the revenues obtained from the export of agri-food commodities (€12,6 billion).

Agricultural food exports to non-EU countries amounted to €2,8 billion in the first half of 2019, compared to the €2,5 billion in 2018. Exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States was at a level of €751 million, which was 15% higher than the period from January to June 2018. The Ukraine imported products worth €274 million, Russia €268 million, and Belarus €141 million.

Poland is a significant producer of fruit

The fruit production area in Poland amounts to 389 000ha with 5,1 million tons of fruit produced.

The most important products include apples, carrots, and soft fruit. Poland is also a world leader in frozen fruit and vegetable production and exports nearly 74% of the frozen vegetables and 81% of the frozen fruit produced. In 2018 Poland was the EU leader in terms of concentrated juice with 530 thousand tons, and the leading world exporter of concentrated apple juice with 242 thousand tons. – Elmarie Helberg, FarmBiz