Dominika Kozarzewska of Polskie Jagody speaks to Fruitnet about the current state of the industry
This has been a challenging year for many in the fresh produce industry. How has 2022 been for your business?
Dominika Kozarzewska: It is definitely more difficult to grow and market blueberries these days. We not only have to face challenges related to climate, sudden weather phenomena, droughts and floods, but also the market provides a number of challenges.
Extremely high inflation, rising production costs, lack of manpower and unstable demand, not to mention the political and economic instability and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic – these are the difficulties that we not only had to face this year, but will also affect our business in the future.
Rising costs of raw materials, energy and logistics has been a major hurdle for many this year. How have these affected you?
DK: It is difficult to find solutions when you face costs that are in some cases several times higher than in 2021. We have tried to optimise transport and find savings by working on increasing our efficiency and productivity.
Has the war in Ukraine had a direct impact on any of your business?
DK: The situation in Ukraine has touched us very deeply since many of our employees are Ukrainian. From the very beginning of the invasion, we have been involved in numerous initiatives to supply necessary support to our neighbours in Ukraine, and to support our employees and their families, who have been affected by the war.
How is the wider market for your key products currently?
DK: We have noticed a stagnation in demand and growth, and we feel that this is mainly caused by high global inflation.
What is giving you the most optimism for the future?
DK: We are developing new markets, and we further diversify our sales directions, which is very exciting, and a key development in current difficult market conditions. We have started working with several new Middle Eastern and South Asian markets, we also started importing fruit during the off season.
We are also very excited about the fact that the 2023 Summit of the International Blueberry Organization will be held in Poland in July 2023. This will be an excellent opportunity for the global blueberry community to discuss the current challenges and look for ways forward for the industry.
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