Poland’s blueberry industry is facing up to a tricky export campaign, according to the Polish Berry Cooperative, with volumes in key European markets already plentiful.
However, the country has many other options on the table when it comes to overseas shipments.
“Because this year blueberry seasons in a number of European countries overlapped, and supply is quite high, sales are rather challenging,” explains Dominika Kozarzewska of Polskie Jagody and the Polish Berry Cooperative. “On top of that, there is Brexit.
"We are dealing with these challenges by focusing even more on central and eastern European markets, which we believe will be growing in the coming years. We are also selling blueberries to Asia again, following a break caused by the pandemic.”
The ability to supply an increasing number of markets is particularly important given the country’s growth in production. According to Kozarzewska, the Polish Berry Cooperative is forecasting a blueberry crop of 3,500 to 4,000 tonnes this season, around 20 per cent more than in 2020. This comes despite some varying weather during the production period.
“Last winter we experienced heavy frost – down to -30 degrees – but there was no damage to fruit buds,” she continues. “Spring frost also spared us, however weather during bloom was quite cold, which did not help pollination.
“Right now we are experiencing challenging weather for picking, with 30 degrees on one day and 18 degrees with heavy rain on the next. Fortunately our geographical spread, coupled with covered production, has allowed us to maintain reliable deliveries.”
Some new promising blueberry variants are being tested, although it is too early to share details, Kozarzewska confirms, and while blueberries will remain the country’s main berry category for the foreseeable future, other products are growing.
“Blueberries, presently grown on over 450ha, are still the main product of the Polish Berry Cooperative but as our clients are asking for other high quality berries, we are expanding our portfolio,” she outlines. ”A few years back we started to grow strawberries, and following successful trials last year, our raspberry production is now reaching 7ha under tunnels. Moreover, multiple blackberry cultivars are being tested this year.”
The Polish Berry Cooperative is also heavily involved with the ‘Time for Polish Superfruit’ campaign, which has boosted soft fruit consumption in Poland.