Poland Leads EU in Processed Strawberries

An Expert's View about Horticulture and Support Services in Poland

Posted on: 11 Mar 2010

Strawberry production in 2009 dropped by 3% in comparison to 2008 and is estimated at 195,000 tons. With 108,000 tons of frozen strawberries, Poland is still the leading EU producer of processed strawberries. Poland also produces and exports strawberry juice to the United States. Poland’s strawberry industry is fragmented but still competitive.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Voluntary - Public Date: 1/8/2010 GAIN Report Number: PL1001 Poland Post: Warsaw Poland leads EU in processed strawberries Report Categories: Strawberries Approved By: Eric Wenberg Prepared By: Agata Kingsbury Report Highlights: Strawberry production in 2009 dropped by 3% in comparison to 2008 and is estimated at 195,000 tons. With 108,000 tons of frozen strawberries, Poland is still the leading EU producer of processed strawberries. Poland also produces and exports strawberry juice to the United States. Poland?s strawberry industry is fragmented but still competitive. Some changes are coming. Forming producers? groups would greatly help the Polish strawberry sector, as well as continued research on new strawberry varieties and a push to switch to more fresh market strawberries. Strawberry production, like all EU farming is intensely subsidized with growers getting 400 or 560 Euro per hectare just to grow the crop. On November 28, 2009, a Polish strawberry variety called ?Kaszubska? has been registered by the European Commission as a protected geographical indication. Pictures of this GI and other varieties of strawberries planted in Poland are attached to this report. General Information: Fresh or processed? Most strawberry production in the EU-27 is used for the fresh market, it is almost always more profitable than the processed market. Poland is the only Member State that continues to be a major supplier of processed strawberries. Strawberry production has a long history in Poland where it was traditionally grown as part of a crop rotation with grains, rapeseed, and vegetables. The crop was more profitable especially on the light sandy soils which are abundant in Poland. The area devoted to strawberry production in Poland has fluctuated over the last 20 years. The most dramatic drop was in 2002/03 when planted area fell from 65,800 to 38,000 hectares. That was a result of continuing low prices of strawberries in comparison to production costs. A similar situation was in 2004/05 and 2005/06 when farmers began to plow up their plantations after facing low prices for strawberries. As a result in 2007/08 production fell to 174,600 tons (planted area: 52,300 ha). In 2008/09 planted area increased up to 54,200 ha and stayed stable in 2009/10. In comparison to 2008/09, production in 2009/10 decreased slightly to 195,000 tons. The quality of strawberries this season is lower because many plantations were attacked by grey mold due to wet weather. Fruit prices dropped this season by 50 percent. That was a result of unusually high prices the previous season when frozen strawberries? export price was 1456 EUR/ton (Eurostat ). Fruit processors were not able to export all frozen fruits from 2008/09 harvest. In the 2009/10 season export prices of frozen strawberries were estimated at 850 EUR/ton (National Statistic Office: GUS; Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics IERiGZ ). The situation on the strawberry market should stabilize next season; planted area and production may decrease slightly, prices should be more stable. Chart 1: Planted area and production of strawberries in Poland Source: data provided by National Statistic Office (GUS) and Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics (IERiGZ) Chart 2: Costs of production and prices of strawberries for processing in Poland Source: data provided by National Statistic Office (GUS) and Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics (IERiGZ) Planted area of strawberries in Poland is divided between the processed and fresh market. Currently strawberries for processing usually come from 70% of harvested acreage and 30% of the area is used for the fresh market. Depending on the harvest situation, sometimes the split can be 80:20. The sector is characterized by fragmented production. In 2002 there were 196,100 commercial strawberry farmers (37,960 ha), among which 99,600 (50.8%) planted strawberries on plantations of less than .1 ha. Currently there are around 80,000 producers ? still a lot ? who grow on average plantation of .3 ha. There was a time when plantations were bigger but that was helped by cheap seasonal workers from Ukraine. The sector faces uneven post-harvest and marketing practices, a small number of producers? groups (there are more groups of fresh strawberry producers than processed even though there are fewer farmers in the fresh business), low use of contracts for farm production. High sensitivity to the unpredictable weather also means year to year fluctuations in yields, quality and prices. The strawberry harvest in Poland is extremely short in duration, lasting only about three to four weeks in June and July. As mentioned Poland is the only Member State where the majority of strawberry production is intended for processing. It does not mean that Poland has no potential to become a major fresh strawberry producer. The problem lies in building better production organization and increasing investments. To produce fresh fruit on large scale farmers have to plant appropriate varieties and meet strict quality and packing requirements. That means they have to sort and pack on the field, refrigerate and export fruit quickly. Fresh strawberry producers who have taken the risk and increased the acreage and managed to produce high quality fruit had no problems with selling their product with a high profit on the EU market. Strawberry producers understand better now the need to change the direction towards fresh fruit production, however it requires investment and many of them cannot afford it now. Strawberry varieties in Poland Poland has been a leader in the processed strawberry industry due to established business relationships with food processors, historical low labor costs, extensive domestic frozen fruit and vegetable industry, and almost exclusive production of the strawberry variety Senga Sengana. Senga Sengana, although not suited for the fresh market, is the most preferred variety in the EU for strawberry processing, especially for jams and juices (thanks to its flavor and strong red color). It is harvested from 60% of the total planted area of strawberries in Poland. Among varieties for fresh consumption the most popular is Dukat (10% of area). The processing industry has started to diversify its supply of strawberry varieties in order to provide the full range of products currently on the market. However in Poland Senga Sengana has no real competition from other varieties such as Dukat, Honeyoe, Elsanta, Kent, Polka, or Onebor (Marmolada). These varieties can be used for both the fresh market and the processing industry, but are cultivated at much lower levels. November 28, 2009, one of the Polish varieties of strawberry called ?Kaszubska? has been registered as a protected geographical indication (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1155/2009 of 27 November 2009). Outstanding quality and reputation of Kashubian strawberry is due to the climate conditions that favor crops in the area. The flesh of the fruit has intense red color. Fruits are firm, juicy and very sweet. Also in December 2009, European Commission registered Polish variety of sour cherry called ?Wi?nia nadwi?lanka? (Vistula cherry) as a protected geographical indicator. This variety is good for both processing industry and fresh consumption because of its unique taste. It has an intense color from dark red to maroon, the diameter of the fruit ranges from 12 to 20 mm and weight from 1.6 to 3.3 g. Cherries for fresh consumption must be harvested manually. PSD tables Country: Poland Commodity: Strawberries, Fresh 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10* UOM New New New New Calendar Year Begin 07/2006 07/2007 07/2008 07/2009 (MONTH/YEAR) Area Planted 55,600 52,300 54,200 54,000 (HA) Area Harvested 40,000 38,000 39,000 39,000 (HA) Production 193,700 174,600 200,700 195,000 MT Intra EU27 Imports 2,685 3,360 3,245 2,500 MT Extra EU27 imports 540 1,145 1,020 500 MT Total imports 3,225 4,505 4,265 3,000 MT TOTAL SUPPLY 196,925 179,105 204,965 198,000 MT Fresh domestic consumption 33,715 67,545 50,990 62,500 MT Intra EU27 exports 21,150 11,380 9,155 9,500 MT Extra EU27 exports 1,860 980 5,320 6,000 MT Total exports 23,010 12,360 14,475 15,500 MT For processing 140,200 99,200 139,500 120,000 MT TOTAL DISTRIBUTION 196,925 179,105 204,965 198,000 MT Balance - - - - MT Country: Poland Commodity: Strawberries, Frozen 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10* UOM New New New New Calendar Year Begin 01/2006 01/2007 01/2008 01/2009 (MONTH/YEAR) Production 130,000 88,500 129,000 108,000 MT Begining stocks 8,000 6,000 8,000 33,555 Intra EU27 Imports 3,030 6,810 3,590 2,500 MT Extra EU27 imports 1,030 2,630 1,965 700 MT Total imports 4,060 9,440 5,555 3,200 MT TOTAL SUPPLY 142,060 103,940 142,555 144,755 MT Domestic consumption 6,605 7,490 10,000 13,000 MT Intra EU27 exports 114,255 77,790 88,000 100,000 MT Extra EU27 exports 15,200 10,660 11,000 15,000 MT Total exports 129,455 88,450 99,000 115,000 MT Ending stocks 6,000 8,000 33,555 16,755 MT TOTAL DISTRIBUTION 142,060 103,940 142,555 144,755 MT Balance - - - - * forecast Trade Poland is the major supplier of processed strawberries in the EU. In 2008/09 Poland exported 88,000 tones of frozen strawberries to other Member States, mainly to Germany and Netherlands. Outside EU major suppliers are China (56,300 tones) and Morocco (50,124 tones). Out of the EU-27 members Poland is also a major exporter of processed strawberries outside the EU, mainly to Russia (around 5,200 tones) and Norway (around 3,000 tones). Poland imports a small amount of processed strawberries mainly from Netherlands and China. Polish fresh strawberries are exported on a very small scale. In 2008/09 Poland exported nearly 14,500 tones. Major EU buyers are Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Lithuania. In 2008/09 Poland also exported fresh strawberries to Russia. Poland imports fresh strawberries mainly from Spain and Turkey. In 2009/10 import of fresh strawberries is forecasted to decrease; export and consumption are forecasted to increase. That may be a result of decreased processing demand (high stocks) and increasing production of fresh consumption varieties. Import of frozen strawberries in 2009/10 is expected to decrease due to high stocks of the national production. Export is expected to increase due to high production, high stocks and low price. Policy Starting on January 1, 2008 a new common market organization (CMO) for fruit and vegetables along with a new set of planting rules went into effect in the EU. The purpose of the reformed CMO was to improve the competitiveness and market orientation of the fruit and vegetable sector, reduce income fluctuations resulting from crises, promote consumption, and enhance environmental safeguards. The main points of the new CMO were to encourage growers to join producer groups which help growers mitigate crises, integrate the fruit and vegetable sector into the Single Payment Scheme, require a minimum level of environmental funding, increase EU funding for the promotion of organic production and abolish export subsidies for fruits and vegetables. As a result of the reformed CMO, the EC, starting in 2008, lowered the minimum farm acreage for berry producers to receive support from .3 ha to .1 ha. For Polish strawberry farmers, who generally have farms that are quite small, the change allowed the inclusion of about 60,000 more Polish berry farms. Payments are provided only to producers working under contracts with the processing industry. Although these payments are small, the Commission hopes that funds will likely lead to on-farm investment and some modernization. Payment to strawberry and raspberry production is EUR 400/ha (EUR 230/ha comes from EU budget and EUR 170/ha can be co-financed from national budget). In 2008 31,961 producers (both strawberry and raspberry harvesting totally 31,010 ha) received 41,982,000 PLN (US dollar 17,424,701*). Average payment per hectare in 2008 was 1,354 PLN (US dollar 562). Although in 2009 payments were 25% higher (due to the exchange rate between PLN and EUR) they did not compensate loses in farmers? net income, neither improved the profitability of strawberry production. However in a difficult financial situation any additional income can be significant. * National Bank of Poland: yearly average rate in 2008 was 1 USD= 2.4092 PLN
Posted: 11 March 2010

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