While European apple markets may have been under pressure, Polish grower Galster has cause for optimism, particularly now that the Chinese market will likely be open for exports this year.
At www.freshfruitportal.com we caught up with company representative Patrycja Bilińska, who says the group has not only recovered from the embargo in Russia where it used to send most of its crop, but will continue to plant to meet demand from the EU and further afield.
"We started exporting to non-European countries like Angola, Algeria, to Egypt – we send a lot to Egypt - and we've had the chance to send to Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives," she says.
"But mostly we still export to European countries, mostly in the west like Germany, Spain, Norway, but we also supply local stores and hypermarkets.
"We start from the orchard where we use a drip irrigation system – we take care of apples in our orchard before the harvest. Also the main thing is the storage of apples," she says.
"When we have harvest in September to November, we can store them until July so we have apples year-round."
The last shipment sent in the last season was on July 1, with apples exported to Singapore in "very good condition".
Bilińska says Galster is constantly seeking to improve its variety offering and try new packaging, in order to meet the needs of customers around the globe.
"In the Middle Eastern market they like red apples, sweet and not big sizes – rather small sizes," she says.
"For example in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Singapore, we send apples in the 18kg bushels with five layers, mostly Red Prince, Royal Gala and sometimes Golden Delicious.
"For European markets we have varieties like Jonagold Red, Gala and Idared."
When it comes to new orchards, most of Galster's efforts are in producing Red Prince, Royal Gala and Golden Delicious.
"We are very optimistic because when we start to send apples to new markets, we always take care of good quality of the fruit so the customers come back to us," she says.
When asked about whether Galster will be exporting to China, the intention is there with requests made to the relevant officials. Through July and continuing into this month, Polish authorities have been doing site visits and controls as part of the approval process.
"I guess in September we’ll have the decision that we can export to China," she says.