The Polish Berry Cooperative (PBC), the initiative bringing together blueberry producers’ organisations Polskie Jagody, Podkarpacka Grupa Producentów Borówki Elliot and BerryGroup, has marked five years of existence.
The PBC used this year's Fruit Logistica as an opportunity to showcase its achievements over the past five years, and celebrate the anniversary.
"Polish blueberries have become an export hit," said BerryGroup's Mateusz Pilch. "We promoted them at trade fairs from Dubai and Almaty to Ho Chi Minh City and Tokyo.
"Thanks to our geographical diversification, our supplies are always reliable which has allowed us to sell fruit to more than 30 countries," Pilch continued. "This, of course, has strengthened our position. Stable supplies are very important. Integration, on the other hand, only makes sense if it is based on common standards and striving to supply top quality fruit."
The Polish Berry Cooperative has also taken this approach when meeting Polish growers at events such as the annual Blueberry Conference.
"Integration around quality has enabled us to work out higher standards," said Dariusz Zęgota of Elliot. "We cool down fruit in under 30 minutes from picking, so our blueberries keep their excellent quality for longer. This has given us a tremendous export success.
"We also developed '7 Rules of Good Harvest', as well as a complete training system," he noted. "Quality translates into an increase in Polish blueberry sales around the world. I am deeply convinced of that."
The challenge for the industry today is to work together throughout the supply chain to maintain the temperature up to the point of sale.
"With a great product in hand, we launched our brand, BerryGood," outlined Dominika Kozarzewska, president of Polskie Jagody. "The 'XXL Blueberries' product, on the other hand, has helped us to convince retail chains that there is space for premium fruits on the Polish market.
"However, in order to provide consumers with great quality fruit chilled within 30 minutes from picking, we still need to make sure the right temperature is kept during transport and at the place of sale," she added. "This is a very big challenge across the whole industry for the coming years."