Raben logo
Transported apples

Cooperation with Raben Group bears fruit - Polish apples conquer the world

Paradoxically, autumn and winter are a hot season for temperature-controlled sea transport of goods and for the demand for refrigerated containers. This is the time when Polish fruits, most of which are apples, set off on a long journey. Fruit growers already have problems with sales behind them and thanks to Raben Group they are able to effectively enter foreign markets.

Food export from Poland is developing very dynamically - in 2018 its value amounted to EUR 29.7 billion, which means more than a fivefold increase since 2004 (€5.4 billion) and the best result ever. Polish meat, fish, dairy products, and above all vegetables and fruit are really popular abroad. The latter account for only 0.5% of the value of all Polish exports (EUR 1.10 billion in 2018), but they are getting more and more popular - in this area an 8% increase in foreign sales was recorded year on year.

The method of transport depends on the durability of the product. For delicate, perishable fruits such as blueberries or raspberries, it is optimal to transport them by plane in the right conditions. Raben successfully executes shipment of soft fruits by air. On the other hand, Polish apples are the leader in terms of scale and the long-distance champion as a result of which they are often transported by sea. The volume of export of these fruits last year amounted to almost 840 thousand tonnes, and the value - EUR 346 million (an increase by 8% compared to 2017). The problems caused by the Russian embargo turned out to be temporary and the Polish fruit growers found new markets. Currently, the main area of their interest is North Africa, e.g. Egypt. This is not only true for apple growers: in 2018, the value of fruit exported to this country reached EUR 20 million. Year by year Raben notes an increase in shipments of containers with apples in this direction, which proves its great potential.

What is more, every year the range of directions for Polish fruit exports is expanding. The participation of domestic growers in many trade fairs around the world has resulted in attracting new customers. A few years ago, no one even considered directions such as Vietnam, India or the Middle East. Now, regular transports are sent there, and experts in the agri-food market confirm the tightening of relations with countries such as Jordan, Turkey, Algeria, Oman or Libya, which translates into an increase in fruit sales by up to several hundred percent. The aforementioned Egypt remains the top destination, but with adequate protection of goods for a 50-day trip ensured by the operator, the producer can consider shipping to most ports in the world.

Transport of apples takes about 40 days on average and its length depends on the destination and the route. For countries in North Africa and shipping containers directly from Gdynia or Gdańsk it takes about 24 days, while using the ports in Southern Europe (Koper, Trieste), the time of transport can be reduced to about 15 days. In the case of China or India one has to take into account the lead time of about 40 days or shorter when shipping containers from Hamburg. It is worth noting that if the fruits are properly selected and prepared for a long sea voyage and the parameters are maintained during transport, apples have a chance to survive even 55 days while retaining their full value.

Until recently, shipments to Asian countries had a pilot character whereas today it is a regular cooperation. Thanks to the excellent quality of the goods and the timeliness of deliveries, domestic producers gained the trust of customers all over the world, which resulted in contracts for regular supplies. However, these may be at risk in the last quarter of the year due to the bottleneck. As it has already been mentioned, the demand for refrigerated containers is growing in this period, which is caused not only by the needs of Polish food producers, but also by increased exports of fish from Scandinavian countries. Given the limited number of refrigerated containers on the market and the significant increase in demand, this may result in a lack of availability for individual customers.

Raben Group is able to provide its customers - leading apple producers - with the appropriate number of containers. This allows for increasing the quantity of shipped goods which has a direct impact on their competitive position on the market. The logistics operator, as a leader in the shipping of REEFER containers, cooperates with all ship operators, having negotiated special agreements that allow its customers to plan their shipments safely throughout the year. Refrigerated containers can be provided practically on the spot - everything depends on the ship's departure and the customer's declaration as to the readiness of the goods. Additionally, Raben deals with formalities related to the clearance of goods and phytosanitary issues, if requested by the customer.

While forwarding to distant markets seems stable and well-organised, contact with a much closer market may cause some concern. In view of the upcoming Brexit, Raben Group is planning to offer its customers a special container service by sea from Poland to Great Britain, which will protect them from possible congestion at the land border and guarantee the continuity of deliveries. At present, the most beneficial solutions are being prepared and analysed.


Dawid Graczyk

Seafreight Branch Manager

Raben Logistics Polska