Polish tomato exports decline, greenhouses updated
Though tomato exports in Poland has been declining for several years, reaching a nadir during an E. coli outbreak in 2011, Polish tomato production facilities are improving. Especially for greenhouse-grown tomatoes, growers are investing money in technological updates.
“The export of Polish tomatoes has been decreasing since 2008,” said Jan Nowakowski of Genesis Fresh. “The lowest volume came in 2011, when an E. coli crisis broke out across Europe.” She added that not only have exports declined to the point where Poland is now a net importer of tomatoes, but the markets to which growers ship their tomatoes have also changed. Where most exports used to reach Western European markets, now growers are increasingly focusing on markets to the east.
“We’ve changed from European to Russian markets,” said Nowakowski. “Our main markets are now our neighbors.” Belarus, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Russia now figure prominently in exporters’ plans. The manner in which tomatoes are grown has also been changing. The nation’s annual production of 700,000 tons is still split between open-field and greenhouse growing, but the nation’s greenhouses are changing.
“There are still significant amounts of small sized glasshouses delivering to local or eastern markets,” said Nowakowski, “but new, state-of-the-art glasshouses are replacing those built 20 and 30 years ago.” While the number of greenhouses is diminishing, it’s expected that greenhouse tomato production will increase as old facilities are replaced with new ones that can churn out higher yields. Especially as technological innovations from Holland find their way to Poland, Nowakowski believes that the quality, shelf life and volume of Polish tomatoes will increase. That would go well with what Nowakowski believes is the best quality that Polish tomatoes possess: their taste.
“The main round variety is Admiro, which has a good taste, good shelf life, and it keeps fresh over long distances,” said Nowakowski. “Our beef tomatoes are Growdena and Bogota varieties, which have shorter shelf lives, but they both have a great taste that is appreciated by Polish and Russian consumers.”