Czech farmers are raising concerns over the prices of apples, with the Union of Southern and Western Czech Fruit Growers saying that the retail price of a kilogram of apples is too high. Despite a wholesale price of 13 to 14 Czech korunas, retail chains sell apples for 50 to 60 korunas per kilogram.
The Union expects almost 8,000 tons of apples to be harvested in the southern and western regions of the Czech Republic this year, a decrease of about ten percent from the previous year. This is due to damage caused by frost and the decreasing number of orchards in the country.
According to the Union, the wholesale price of apples is already at the limit for covering the costs of fruit growers. Higher costs do not seem to be reflected in the retail prices set by the retail chains and can significantly influence consumer demand. The Union warns that the current retail prices are too high, as it is not sustainable for fruit growers to sell apples at such a low price to retail chains and then see them resold at much higher prices.
Fruit growers are also struggling with rising electricity prices, which is a significant issue during the storage of apples at the required three degrees Celsius.
Although fewer apple trees are being cultivated in the country, many Czech farmers are not giving up on the industry. However, they are exploring ways to reduce costs, such as opting for the mechanized harvesting of cherries and plums rather than the more labor-intensive apple cultivation.
While the decline in orchards could be seen as insignificant, experts warn that the number of new orchards being planted is not enough to make up for the loss. The issue could lead to a critical shortage of apples in the future, which could further raise prices.
The Czech Republic has a rich history of apple cultivation, with the southern regions of Chelčice, Krtely, and Lhenice being the largest growing areas. Since the mid-19th century, these areas have supplied apples to the imperial court in Vienna. Today, the Union of Southern and Western Czech Fruit Growers has about 50 members who oversee nearly 1,000 hectares of orchards and 10 hectares of fruit tree nurseries. They cultivate primarily apples, cherries, plums, currants, pears, and strawberries.
The concerns raised by the Union of Southern and Western Czech Fruit Growers highlight the challenges faced by small-scale farmers in the country and the need for more sustainable and equitable practices in the agricultural industry.