The promotional campaign "Strength of taste, vitamins and colors - meet the quality of Apples from Europe" is aimed not only at promoting European apples in the UAE, but also to provide information on the current state of fruit-growing and apple production as well as strategies that are being designed by European producer associations to European apples may have had a stable and growing market share in the UAE and other Gulf countries.
Statistics provided by the National Center for Agricultural Support indicate that the total apple export from the European Union in the 2018-2019 season was 955,000 tonnes. This result was about 500 thousand tonnes lower than in the record season 2014/2015. According to WAPA, in 2018, the main directions of apple exports for the European Union were: Belarus, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
So, what are the problems related to exporting to the Gulf markets and how to effectively overcome them?
As we read in the report on trends on the fruit market in 2019, prepared by the Association of Polish Fruit and Vegetable Distributors "Unia Owocowa", the fruit industry is aware of the importance of problems, and in order to remain competitive it must unite. This is the only direction to remain a key exporter also to more distant markets, such as the Middle East market. As the President of the Association Arkadiusz Gaik emphasizes, "the challenge is the search for new markets and technological preparation for the ever-higher demands of customers".
The UAE fruit and vegetable market is a difficult and demanding. Fruit-growers who previously exported to Eastern markets have to switch completely, because there are many differences. Importers from the UAE and other Gulf countries prefer to receive varieties that we have little (e.g. royal gala), sweet apples, a different type of packaging and waxing are preferred. Also, the sizes offered by some European countries differ from those required by recipients from the Gulf.
According to Witold Boguta, president of the board of the National Union of Producer and Vegetable Groups, the main problems on the dessert apple market are the lack of homogeneous, large batches of goods that allow maintaining continuity of supply, and the lack of sufficient fruit expected by the varieties market. According to him, producer organizations and their associations could eliminate these problems.
The Arab importers, during most of the b2b conversations we had with them, emphasized exactly the same - they expect the continuity of deliveries of specific varieties. An additional difficulty for the Gulf markets is that they are price sensitive and very high quality is required, while - depending on the season, European apples, the longer the harvest, the more questionable the quality. With a good year, this is the period from October to April, then we are facing a high risk of complaints, which in turn effectively discourages European producers from sending the goods.
According to Boguta, "you need to improve the production of dessert apples in the direction of the highest quality, change the variety structure, be tempted to introduce club varieties, conduct marketing at the highest level, take care of position in current markets and acquire new ones". As European importers emphasize, European exporters must have strategies to enter the Gulf markets on a permanent basis. Not only during uncomfortable politics (e.g. the Russian embargo). Only in this way will we build trust and lasting trade relations.
The promotional campaign "The power of taste, vitamins and colors - meet the quality of apples from Europe" is proof that the European Union and industry associations recognize the need for both marketing promotion and uniting to be more powerful and able to compete. Fruit trees occupy almost 1.3 million ha of European Union land, of which 1/3 falls on apple orchards - this is a potential that cannot be wasted and must be best utilized by adapting to the requirements of new markets.
Feel free to contact us and obtain the offer:
Association of Polish Distributors
Fruit and Vegetables "Unia Owocowa"
Tel. (+48) 22 295 01 61
Kom. (+48) 696 859 993