Dominika Kozarzewska of Polskie Jagody gives Fruitnet the lowdown on the Polish blueberry business as 2023 draws to a close
Growing the customer base both domestically and overseas has been the name of the game for Poland’s blueberry industry in 2023. This dual focus, while also increasing automation and planting new, high-quality varieties, has meant a busy 12 months.
“This year we have been working on expanding our domestic offer and our Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian client base,” explains Dominika Kozarzewska of Polskie Jagody, part of the Polish Berry Cooperative.
“We have sent a number of airfreight and container shipments. The sea container shipments are a new territory for us, and we are happy to report that we have completed a successful summer campaign with our Middle East clients.”
Efforts are being made to expand the blueberry offering domestically, she continues, particularly of premium product lines. In addition, the product range has grown to include strawberries, raspberries and – soon – blackberries, offering consumers the full berry range.
There remains a strong demand for high-quality fruit across the market, with taste and consumer experience becoming as important as shelf life, and according to Kozarzewska quality is paramount if you want to stay relevant in what is a highly competitive market.
“The high-quality trend we see in blueberries is requiring us to replace plantings with new varieties, and this process is underway at our company,” she outlines. “
“Another trend, that we initially saw and responded to several years ago with the formation of the Polish Berry Cooperative, is the one towards greater consolidation on the production side of the business. This allows for many efficiencies as well as providing a more consistent offer, for example regardless of local weather conditions due to geographical spread.”
The Cooperative is heavily involved in the campaign to promote the consumption of berries in Poland. Thanks to joint efforts of growers, per capita blueberry consumption in the country has climbed to 1.83kg per person, which Kozarzewska says has allowed growers to maintain sustainable pricing despite huge production growth.
Meanwhile, the myriad of challenges facing not just Poland’s blueberry producers but the industry as a whole, is pushing it towards greater efficiency and automation.
“Every year we deal with massive challenges, climate change, production cost increases, workforce shortage, just to name a few,” she confirms. “We are working on automatising as many processes as possible, and we are also managing our resources as effectively as we can.
”Among other things, we are constantly improving our IT system for farm and packhouse management.”
Looking ahead to 2024, Kozarzewska says the industry is hoping hoping for a less turbulent year, but accepts this rarely happens in business.
“Therefore, we will focus on introducing innovative technology, becoming less susceptible to climate change and producing great quality berries which is what we do best,” she adds.