For some Polish apple exporters, the season started rather slowly. Mohamed Marawan, owner of the Polish apple export company Sarafruit, says that the labor shortage was the main cause of this slow start to the season: “As far as apple exports are concerned, the season started very slowly. The main problem has been insufficient manpower for the volumes of apples to be harvested but also understaffed at our packing plant The process has been quite slow overall and we are only now starting to catch up and export as much as possible”.
Given that Egypt has been the main market for Sarafruit for years, the fact that Egyptian banks do not currently allow any imports poses a major problem, explains Marawan. “The export situation of apples to Egypt has not changed so far. The banks and the Egyptian central bank have not yet managed to find a solution to the lack of Euros and Dollars. At this point, the Dollar is getting even stronger compared to the Egyptian Pound, considering that a month ago a Dollar was worth 18 Egyptian Pounds, while now it is worth 26. So, right now, the situation is not stable at all, on the Egyptian market”.
Sarafruit is now looking to import the produce from its customers, hoping to speed up the process so they can ship the apples back to Egypt, Marawan says. “To resolve the situation, Egyptian exporters need to increase their shipments for the country to import. The demand for Polish apples in Egypt has remained the same, but that doesn’t change the current situation. To facilitate a solution, we are talking to our Egyptian partners to import more fruit from them, so as to have a presence on the European market.”
When asked if apple prices are different this season, Marawan says that while expenses have soared, prices haven’t risen in a long time: “Prices for Polish apples are the same as they have been for the past three years, while all everything else has gotten more expensive, from fuels to transportation, from energy to labor and fertilizers. So it’s a really dramatic situation for growers, exporters and packing plants. Some farmers are diversifying crops to try to make better profits. As for pears, I don’t think it will work in the long run as many growers will plant more and we will end up in a situation similar to the one we are currently experiencing with apples.At Sarafruit we do not intend to change anything in our orchard as we have our varieties that we sell to our customers who expect the same volumes of apples every year.”
As energy has become more expensive, storing apples will be an expensive process this year. Marawan believes they will not feel this impact as much as other growers, as they will soon run out of supplies. “In general, we don’t store our apples. Those left in the cooling chambers should be exported in two months. This means that we will have finished our apple harvest and will start buying extra volumes from growers we know well and know how they work. These growers know how to handle the apples in an orchard so that you end up with a healthy, disease-free product. After sorting and packing, these apples have to endure 40 to 45 days of transportation, so they must be in good condition. Every year we finish our season in March, so we still have four months of work ahead of us. We hope that the situation in Egypt will change by the end of 2022”.CopyAMP code
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