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Disruption looms for Polish raspberry harvest

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Polish raspberry growers threaten to interrupt the country’s harvest, in order to protest against low prices offered by buyers.

The Polish growers’ association called on its members to interrupt the raspberry, gooseberry and currant harvest from June 18. The organisation asked for the government’s support, by introducing a general national contract to be signed by industry and growers, before the start of the season. In addition, it requested the introduction of customs measures, to stem the imports flow of frozen berries from Ukraine and other extra-EU countries.  

Analysis 

Several years of sky-high prices caused demand for frozen raspberry to shrink. This was particularly true for Polish frozen raspberry crumble whose price hit a five-year record-low of 1.15 (USD1.34) per kg last season. Prices are not expected to improve due to high stocks in the country. The summer raspberry crop is mostly processed into crumble which explains why industry is not willing to pay high prices for the fresh raspberries.

According to the Polish press, in some areas growers were offered PLN2.20 (USD0.59) per kilo for raspberry to be processed into juice and pulp (IEG Vu sources reported higher prices in the range of PLN2.40-2.50/kg), while they will need at least PLN3.40-3.50/kg in order to cover production costs. IEG Vu’s sources reported that raw material price for freezing should be PLN3.20/kg “which is fairly low,” a trader commented.

“The high prices recorded three years ago depressed demand: processors changed their products’ recipes switching to cheaper fruit. Now we will have to wait for the market to start growing again,” he said adding it is still too early to assess the market trend at this stage, given the harvest is mostly focused on varieties for the juice industry.   Polish raspberry prices for early varieties are low despite some uncertainty about crop volume and quality.

According to a report released by the Polish Statistical Institute (GUS), the 2017-18 winter was generally mild with minor damage to plantations. However, the lack of a snow cover caused some losses in strawberry and raspberry fields. In particular, poor conditions were observed for raspberry plants. The warm spring favoured an abundant flowering, but lack of soil moisture and absence of rainfall can potentially affect the quality of several berries and stone fruit, which may cause a further price decline for some commodities.   

Polish frozen raspberry

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