Polish apple farmers casualties of Russia-EU trade war

© Agencja Gazeta
Poland is expecting a record apple harvest, but growers are having difficulty selling their produce and even face bankruptcy. Before the trade dispute with the EU, Russia accounted for more than half of Polish apple exports.

“The situation in the Polish apple market is rather difficult. Poland’s growers have been hit hardest by the [Russian] embargo,” said Anna Staszewska, an export specialist at EUROSAD, in an interview with the Financial Times. EUROSAD unites more than 30 farms and 700 hectares of orchards in the country.

Poland produces more than 30 percent of all European apples, and the country is expecting 3.5 million tons this summer. But the record harvest is hurting prices, which are at one zloty (€0.23) a kilo for dessert apples and €0.05 a kilo for industrial apples. This is a 20 percent drop since 2011, according to FT calculations.

“On one hand the higher harvest is a success. But at the same time, it poses a huge challenge for Polish farmers . . . There is no profit with the market in this situation,” said food and agribusiness analyst at Bank Zachodni WBK, Grzegorz Rykaczewski.

"We feel anxious about the situation. If it continues, and there will be a lot of apples and the prices will be low, I think that farms will start to go bankrupt,” said the owner of Fresh Fruit Services Marcin Hermanowicz.

A man holds up apples as he takes part in the growers' protest in front of the Prime Minister's Chancellery November 4, 2014. The fruit growers were protesting against the lack of sufficient aid from the Polish government after a Russian embargo on their products was imposed. © Kacper Pempel

The EU imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing Moscow of involvement in the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine and after Crimea voted to rejoin Russia. The Kremlin responded by imposing an embargo on agricultural produce, food and raw materials against countries that joined anti-Russian sanctions.

READ MORE: Moscow extends contraband food destruction

After the Russian embargo was imposed, the Polish government started a campaign to eat apples ‘against Putin’, which increased consumption, but after a while apple sales in Poland returned to normal.