Record harvest a problem for Polish apple growers

Poland's apple harvest, a record in the country's history, is worrying fruit growers. The harvest's projected four and a half million tonnes will mean an oversupply of apples, with prices too low to cover production costs.VIDEO: REUTERS

WARSAW (REUTERS) - Poland has a record apple harvest. But growers are not happy about it.

A projected four and a half million tonnes of the fruit looks certain to mean oversupply, driving prices down to a level where they won't cover production costs.

Producers find they are also at the mercy of global politics.

Poland used to sell a million tonnes of apples to Russia every year. But Moscow has banned imports in retaliation for European Union sanctions over its annexation of Crimea.

Put it all together and some producers have decided to just let their apples rot in the orchard.

The Polish government had proposed creating a state-owned company to buy the fruit at higher prices.

But they waved through a takeover of Appol, the country's largest producer of juice concentrate, by a Chinese state-owned firm.

Mr Mateusz Dabrowski, fruit farmer and co-founder of Youth Initiative For Horticulture, says: "The takeover of Appol and the entry of Chinese into the market is a threat for Polish growers. China may become a monopoly. They are already the biggest apple producer in the world."

Producers say they fear a flood of cheap Chinese juice labelled as a Polish, and therefore EU, product.

Some are thinking about growing something more profitable instead.

But that would not come cheap.

And a first harvest would take several years to appear.

That leaves some growers to give up altogether, selling off their orchards entirely.