The search for good quality will be the most important task for the Polish apple traders, so says an exporter. Although volumes are okay, despite the weather conditions this year, the exporter feels it will be challenging to meet demand with the first class apples that are available. Some of the apples had to be sprayed and do not contain any seeds, meaning their shelf life will be drastically shorter.
It’s been rainy weather during the harvest of Polish apples, making the whole operation a lot more difficult. According to Mohamed Marawan, owner of Polish apple exporter Sarafruit, there have even been some delays, as they’re still picking the Golden apples: “We’ve finished with the harvest of Gala. We managed to sell a lot of the good quality Galas to North Africa. Only the first class apples were exported, the second class apples were sold to the processing industry and will be used for juices and such. There were lots of issues during harvesting when it came to the weather. Constant rains made it impossible to pick all the apples, and therefore we’re currently still harvesting the Golden varieties and will continue doing so next week.”
The challenges with the weather over 2020 have had a larger impact than Marawan anticipated. They’ve had to treat the apples in the hopes of being able to keep them growing, as some of the apples had not developed any seeds. “I’m worried about the quality of the average apple in Poland, as we took a lot of hits. Two waves of frost and a very dry summer have resulted in apples without any seeds inside. This means the apple does not receive the required hormones. As a result we had to use certain chemicals to make the most of the situation. Now the issue with these apples is that they can’t be stored for long. It means we have to sell them quickly on the domestic market, as exporting takes too long and the apples could go bad. This situation is true for all varieties in all our orchards.”
Although there are also volumes that are looking right in quality, Marawan states he can never be sure if they’ll make the transit until the first container arrives: “Now of course there are also apples that are looking good, although the majority is not ready for export. For the good apples, we did open up a few of them, and they had seeds inside. The question will be if this is true for all apples and whether they will survive the transit time to Egypt, for example. Now the current containers we have shipped have not been received yet, so we don’t know the outcome. Naturally, if a large portion of the apples have gone bad, we as Sarafruit will compensate our clients. However it is my hope nothing has happened to the produce, but we can’t know for sure just yet!”
After the Golden varieties are finished, Marawan will move on to the remaining varieties. He is against storing the apples in the cold chambers, as he’s unsure if the apples will survive this. “We still have Redprince and Idared coming up before the season ends. Demand for the apples is certainly there, all over Europe. I’ve recently received emails with inquiries from Holland, Italy and Greece, for instance. Despite this demand, exports will remain slow simply because it is so challenging to find the proper quality in the apples. Now anything we can get our hands on, we sell directly. Unlike others, we don’t keep them stored in cold chambers, as it is my personal opinion it would be a big mistake. Some traders feel the price is currently too low and will store their apples until they are satisfied with the price levels. But as I just said some apples will not even contain seeds. I’m not sure if the apples will survive storage in cold chambers for long. It means traders could be up for a big surprise when they finally open their chambers.”
All in all it appears to be a season filled with uncertainties. Marawan can’t say if the season will be successful at all this year. “The season overall could still be good but it can really go both ways. It all depends on the availability of good quality apples. I’m worried, as the situation is uncertain. I really don’t want to send bad apples to my trusted and longtime clients, even if it’s not on purpose. So we’ll have to wait and see what the next weeks bring us. Farmers tell me there is less volume for Idared as well. I think when it comes to European apples, that Italians will be the winners this year. They have the quality and the quantity for sure.” he concludes.