Eastern Europe Special
Report – Eastern Europe
Polfrost’s new refrigerated trailers hit the roads at the end of July. The new equipment will ensure goods are shipped at the right temperature and without failure. The group chose Schmitz trailers and Thermo King cooling units.
Eastern Europe is a market of producers exporting to western Europe as well as to former Soviet Union countries. In general, eastern European countries export fruit and vegetables that are too expensive for their domestic market, then import relatively cheaper crops from other neighboring countries. As EU members, some are taking advantages of the free movement of goods, on the other hand, their historical background and knowledge of the Russian and Ukrainian mentality means they can also do business with those countries.
Poland exports the majority of its fresh fruit and vegetables to western Europe – Germany, the Netherlands, UK – but also sells to Russia. Every year, we export 400.000-500.000 tonnes of apples to Russia, which imported a total of 1.26m tones of the fruit in 2012. Polish producers are slowly discovering the advantages of forming producers organizations, we are reluctant to do everything collectively, but this trend is visible, even if such groups mostly consist of about ten members and involve rather small producers.
When choosing fresh fruit and vegetables, consumers in eastern Europe are guided by a product’s appearance; price is the second factor. We prefer buying from reliable suppliers and to be sure that, after preparations, we will not be forced to throw it away. It is still common for fresh produce to be purchased at bazaars, with the trust that goods we buy there are fresh and cheap. There is also a growing group of consumers looking for organic food: this trend is noticeable mainly in large cities, where access to fruit and vegetables from conventional agriculture is significantly limited. These people are willing to pay two or even three times the price of a conventional product.