Time for Polish strawberries
Poland is among the leading producers of strawberries in the European Union. The share of the strawberry cultivation area in the total domestic berry cultivation area is 27–28%.
In the production of strawberries, Poland is ranked third among the European Union countries, with the share of 13% in the EU production, and thirteenth in the global market. The global leader in the strawberry market remains China with the production exceeding 3.3 million tonnes and, to a lesser extent, the United States with the harvest of more than 1 million tonnes. In the European Union, apart from Poland, the group of the largest producers of strawberries includes Spain, with the share of 25% share in the EU production and Germany with the share of 14%. The popularity of strawberry cultivation in Poland is the result of favorable soil and climatic conditions, domestic demand for dessert fruit and fruit preserves and the continuing demand from foreign consumers – mainly for frozen strawberries. The consumption of strawberries is also favored by their growing availability.
Currently, the season for strawberries begins at the beginning of the second quarter (thanks to fruit from greenhouse crops) and lasts until late autumn, when the fruit of varieties repeating fruiting are available. The production of strawberries is conducted mainly in smaller family farms, managing plantations with an area of 1 to 10 ha. The cultivation of strawberries in Poland is characterized by a clear regionalization.
The largest cultivation areas are located in the:
- Mazowieckie Voivodeship (53% of the national strawberry cultivation area).
- Lubelskie Voivodeship (with the share of 14%),
- Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship (with the share of 8%) and
- Łódzkie Voivodeship (with the share of 6%).
In the Lubelskie Voivodeship, despite the much smaller strawberry cultivation area than in the Mazowieckie Voivodeship, the harvest of these fruit in recent years has been at a level similar to that in the Mazowieckie Voivodeship, i.e. 52 thousand tonnes, on average. In total, in the Mazowieckie and Lubelskie Voivodeships, the harvest of strawberries accounted for about 56% of the domestic production of these fruit. In the years 2014–2020, the harvest of strawberries, depending on the yield, ranged from 146 thousand tonnes to 205 thousand tonnes. In 2021, the harvest of strawberries was estimated at 156 thousand tonnes, and its share in the domestic harvest of berries was 28%.
In Poland, about 50 varieties of strawberries are registered, which are characterised by, inter alia, different fruiting dates. Popular early varieties, which bear fruit already in May, include, inter alia,: „Kama”, „Kent”, „Honeoye”. Often encountered medium-early varieties, fruiting at the turn of June and July, include, inter alia,: „Senga Sengana”, „Elkat”, „Onebor”. Popular late varieties are „Pandora” and „Bogota”.
The significant volume of the domestic harvest of strawberries is designed for export. In the years 2014–2021, between 54% and 70% of the domestic production of these fruit was sold abroad. Last year, Poland exported 102 thousand tonnes of strawberries, of which 82.8 thousand tonnes of frozen strawberries and 19.2 thousand tonnes of fresh strawberries. Recently, one can observe an increase in the export of fresh strawberries. However, still 88% of revenues are obtained from the export of frozen fruit.
Poland is the leading global exporter of frozen strawberries. In the years 2014–2021, Poland exported annually 83–123 thousand tonnes of frozen strawberries, which accounted for the share of 45–60% in the domestic harvest of strawberries. The largest customer of frozen strawberries from Poland is the European Union. In 2021, 88% of the export volume of this product was sent to the Community. Frozen strawberries from Poland were exported mostly to Germany, the Netherlands and France. About 53% of the total volume of frozen strawberries was exported to these countries. The export of fresh strawberries takes place on the much smaller scale than of frozen strawberries. In the years 2014– 2021, Poland exported from 6 thousand tonnes to 19 thousand tonnes of fresh strawberries, which accounted for 3%-12% of the domestic harvest of strawberries. In 2021, the dominant export destination was non-EU countries (83% of the total volume) – mainly Belarus and Russia. Among the EU countries, the largest volume of fresh strawberries was exported to Germany, the Czech Republic and Belgium.