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Polish Fruit and Veg Snapped Up Abroad

Send Print Download added: | 2013-07-22 11:59:15

Polish Fruit and Veg Snapped Up Abroad

In recent years Poland has become the European Union's leading exporter of fruit and vegetables.

That Polish fruit and vegetables are healthy and safe is confirmed by the interest shown in them by importers from many countries across Europe as well as other parts of the world. According to data from the Foreign Agriculture Markets Monitoring Unit at the Foundation of Assistance Programs for Agriculture (FAMMU/FAPA), in 2012 Poland exported a total of 1.25 million metric tons of fresh fruit, over 640,000 tons of fresh vegetables and almost 48,000 tons of potatoes. Sales by Polish exporters totaled almost 617 million euros for fruit, over 522 million euros for vegetables and almost 5 million euros for potatoes.

Apples accounted for almost 76 percent of Poland's fruit exports last year. Other significant export items included fresh soft fruit (56,000 tons) and stone fruit (63,500 tons). Last year the biggest buyer of Polish fruit was the Commonwealth of Independent States, which imported a record amount of 1,043,000 tons of fruit (38 percent more than in 2011). The CIS's share in total Polish fruit exports in 2012 was close to 83 percent.

Exports of fresh vegetables last year were dominated by mushrooms (172,000 tons) and vegetables from the cabbage family (over 150,000 tons), mainly white and red cabbage-55,100 tons. Allium vegetables were also popular internationally, with 113,000 tons exported, including almost 112,000 tons of onions alone, followed by tomatoes (94,000 tons) and root vegetables (over 43,600 tons, including 25,300 tons of carrots). In 2012, the total volume of fresh vegetable exports to all EU countries was almost 410,000 tons, compared with just under 367,000 tons in 2011. The rest of Polish fresh vegetable exports went to the CIS-over 226,500 tons compared with 218,600 tons a year earlier.

Poland is also a major exporter of processed fruit products. In 2012, exports of processed fruit totaled over 755,000 tons in volume and 1.14 billion euros in value, while 786,200 tons of processed vegetables were exported for a total of 588 million euros. In both cases-processed fruit and processed vegetables-the export volume grew compared with the previous year.

As usual, in 2012 the biggest segment in these exports were fruit juices and concentrates as well as frozen fruit. In the case of fruit juices, exports totaled 360,300 tons, including 274,500 tons of apple juice concentrate. A total of over 305,000 tons of frozen fruit was exported, the largest items being frozen cherries-over 88,000 tons, strawberries-almost 70,000 tons, and raspberries-over 55,000 tons. Similar to previous years, processed fruit exports were dominated by frozen fruit-almost 392,000 tons. More French fries were exported than a year earlier-over 153,700 tons.

The production of fruit, vegetables and mushrooms is an important segment of agricultural production. Taking up no more than 3 percent of arable land, it accounts for over 36 percent of market-oriented plant production and 14-15 percent of total market-oriented agricultural production.

The biggest product groups in Poland are apples, cherries and berries. Among soil-grown vegetables, the main items are cabbage, carrots and onions. Tomatoes are the main tunnel-grown vegetables.

Among the many successes of Polish horticulture, pride of place goes to mushroom production. Poland is number one in the EU with over 200,000 tons grown annually. As regards fruit, Poland is fourth among EU producers, and sixth in vegetable production. Growing fruit, vegetables and mushrooms is the main source of income for about 160,000 farms that produce them on a large scale. In addition, for thousands of households, fruit and vegetable growing is a supplementary source of income.

Experts say that continued development of fruit and vegetable production in Poland will be possible if greater amounts of these products are exported for direct consumption as dessert fruit. Today more than 50 percent of fruit is produced for processing and only 16 percent of the harvested fruit is exported for direct consumption as dessert fruit. The same is true of vegetables: 30 percent of soil-grown vegetables is processed, and only about 10 percent is exported for direct consumption. It is worth adding that the prices of fruit, vegetables and mushrooms on the market for fresh produce are much higher than those paid for products intended for processing.

Therefore, experts say, while not neglecting the processing segment, growers in Poland should focus on developing the production of fruit and vegetables for direct consumption. The chances of expanding production and exports in this market segment-after Poland joined the EU and following the removal of customs duties, entry prices and other administrative restrictions-are very good and, importantly, still underutilized by Polish producers and exporters.

The domestic fruit and vegetable market has great potential to increase production and exports to the developed countries of the European Union. That such possibilities exist is shown by the mushroom market, where Polish producers are leading exporters in the EU. Similar opportunities can be found on the market for cherries, strawberries and apples as well as some vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli.   
Source: The Warsaw Voice

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