A seized opportunity – the success of Polish apples in Colombia
Last year, nearly 5,000 tons of apples were exported from Poland to Colombia, half as much again as in the year before and almost 30 times more than in 2021.
According to Colombian data, the value of imported apples from Poland in January 2022 was only $28,000, exactly a year later it increased almost 50 times, to as much as $1.35 million. According to preliminary estimates, the result for the whole of 2023 is almost $5 million. Such a huge change was possible thanks to the hard work and market knowledge of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency’s experts.
Colombia, being an equatorial country, does not have thermal conditions for growing apples, which need a more temperate climate. Therefore, it relies on imports, mainly from Chile. However, Chilean fruit growers do not have the technology that would allow them to store fruit for more than 8 months, hence the demand for apples for 3-4 months of the year (from October to January) is satisfied by imports from Europe, now also from Poland– explains Anna Dobrzycka, manager of PAIH’s Foreign Trade Office in Bogota.
The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Bogotá and the State Inspectorate of Plant Health and Seeds were the first to notice the opportunity to enter the Colombian market. Thanks to their efforts, since 2019 there have been no formal barriers for the export of Polish apples to Colombia. Despite the lack of restrictions, Polish fruit growers made little use of this possibility. The breakthrough did not come until three years later.
In October 2022, a large fruit distributor operating in Colombia’s largest cities came to PAIH’s Foreign Trade Office in Bogotá. The reaction of the Agency’s employees was immediate, and soon the Colombian entrepreneur already had meetings arranged with the main fruit groups operating in the Grójec region of Poland. His visit ended with the signing of three export contracts, and in December of the same year the mission was repeated.
The reputation of the quality of Polish apples quickly spread throughout Latin America. The Agency’s office, this time in Santiago, was approached by the President of a large Chilean fruit group. He heard about Polish fruit from a Colombian importer who had previously participated in economic missions organized by PAIH. In this way, Chilean entrepreneurs also visited Poland and saw sorting plants, warehouses and orchards for themselves.
Both the Chileans and Colombians were impressed by the innovation and automation of sorting, storage and packaging processes. The interest of importers from Latin America was so great that we went from eight large containers of apples per year in 2021 to as many as several hundred in 2023, and the trend is still growing. The popularity of Polish fruit is not waning, the interest is enormous– adds Tomasz Bajon, an expert from PAIH’s Export Department.
This story about Polish apples is an example of the opportunity offered to exporters by Latin America. An opportunity that Polish entrepreneurs often overlook and choose to export to Colombia through intermediaries, even though exporting directly is much more beneficial. An opportunity for personal contact with Colombian partners will be made possible by the Alimentec food fair. During the event, Polish entrepreneurs will be able to present their products on the Polish National stand organized by PAIH.