High-tech greenhouses big business in Poland, yet energy prices bite into profits

With 1400 hectares of tomato cultivation in heated greenhouses, Poland is Europe’s second-largest market. Last week, the local TSW fair was held in Warsaw, where René Zwinkels and Kasia Kaczmarek of Axia Vegetable Seeds were present. “Most of what is grown here is for the internal market. 48 million consumers, and tomato consumption per capita in Poland is one of the highest in Europe,” he says. And just like Poland itself, tomato cultivation is also developing rapidly.

“The number of high-tech greenhouses in Poland has grown considerably in recent years. The cost price is very low here and consumption is high. Larger companies have emerged that really dare to do business,” says René. “Mularski, for example, is providing light for the specialties. That development is ongoing here. Citronex does a lot in pink tomatoes and sells their own brand in the Polish supermarket Biedronka. The total area for Biedronka is maybe 300 to 400 hectares, and 20 hectares of that is also exposed cultivation.” In total, he estimates the exposed market in Poland to be around 50 to 60 hectares.

Like their European colleagues, these growers face challenges now that energy prices have risen sharply, although René expects the real challenge to come in the next few years. “Polish horticulture is 70-80% dependent on coal and that will be a huge challenge. They are now suffering from the higher energy price – not the four to fivefold increase from the Netherlands, but still a doubling compared to last January – the real challenge, however, lies in switching away from coal. Poland has also signed an agreement with the EU and will have to find alternatives to coal plants by 2030, or reduce CO2 emissions.”

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