Poland turns to new markets for its apples

You can now take a bite out of apples from Poland, the biggest exporter of the fruit.

Polish apples are now on sale at FairPrice Xtra supermarkets after the European country started shipping them here last week.

Poland's turn to new markets such as Singapore comes after Russia, which bought 56 per cent of its apple exports last year, started banning agricultural produce from places such as the United States and European Union in August. This was in retaliation against Western sanctions imposed on it over the Ukraine crisis.

Polish ambassador in Singapore Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz said: "The ban is one of the reasons we have to reconsider our export strategy, but it is not the only reason. Our government has ambitious plans to expand exports overseas."

This marks the first time Polish apples are sold in Singapore, said the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. The country of about 38 million people exports 1.2 million tonnes of apples a year to more than 30 countries.

There are also talks between Polish suppliers and local importers to bring in vegetables like carrots, onions and potatoes, said the ambassador. Polish chocolate, biscuits, pasta and jams are already sold in stores here.

Mr Victor Chai, a director in FairPrice's purchasing and merchandising department, said the chain decided to sell apples from Poland to offer greater variety and diversify supply sources.

"As we have only just started bringing them in, the quantity is relatively small and we will monitor customers' reception."

The popular varieties at FairPrice are from China, which supplies the chain with about 60 per cent of its apples. Fuji apples from China typically cost $3.95 for five at FairPrice supermarkets. From today to Sunday, the Polish apples will be sold at all seven FairPrice Xtra outlets at $4.25 for a 1kg bag. The usual price is $4.95.

According to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, the top three countries of import for apples last year were China, South Africa and New Zealand.

Mr Tan Chin Hian, vice-chairman of the Singapore Fruits & Vegetables Importers & Exporters Association, said: "Singaporeans tend to like big (apples) which are sweet, with a good-looking appearance."

Supplier Hupco is one of two importers which have started supplying Polish apples here.

Its director, Mr Daniel Tay, said: "Poland has apple varieties which other countries don't have. We're bringing in the Prince variety because it has a unique taste, with a sweet-sour flavour that is quite distinct. We have already placed orders for the next batch."

This article was first published on November 28, 2014.
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