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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » February 25, 2011
Polska… tastes good!
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Polish Dairy Products Please Palates Abroad
February 25, 2011   
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More than 1,000 products from over 100 producers have received quality labels in the Try Fine Food program run by the Agriculture Ministry since 2004.

Dairy products are the largest group among the foodstuffs with quality labels.

The Try Fine Food program aims to provide consumers with reliable information stating that the products marked with the label meet stricter—additional or special—quality requirements, confirmed by independent bodies or organizations. The Try Fine Food label is granted to products with a well-established position on the market, easily recognizable by consumers, produced and present on the market for at least a year, and with identification procedures in place across the food production chain, including a procedure that makes it possible to recall products that do not meet the requirements.

The label is granted to products that meet the strictest criteria, worked out by a Scientific Council on Food Quality at the Agriculture Ministry. The council is made up of outstanding professors and other researchers who are experts in nutrition, crop and animal farming, and law. They recommend products for the Try Fine Food label to the agriculture minister after a decision by the Chief Agricultural and Food Quality Inspector.

Try Fine Food labels may be awarded to an unlimited number of producers operating on the EU market, irrespective of their size and form of ownership. The label helps consumers make informed decisions when choosing food products and increases their confidence in mass-produced products with consistently high quality. It is an incentive for producers to make good, healthy products and an instrument encouraging entrepreneurs to monitor and increase the quality of food products. It also supports sales of good Polish products in Poland and abroad.

The label is granted in more than 10 product categories such as meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, fish and fish products, eggs and egg products, honey, edible fats, cereal, leguminous and root plant products, fruit, vegetables, mushrooms and products made from them, confectionery products, cakes, herbs and spices, alcoholic beverages, mineral water and non-alcoholic beverages.

The label is granted for no longer than three years so as to ensure high product quality and guaranteed provenance of ingredients.

At present, the label is held by 474 products made by 75 firms. Dairy products—including milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cheese and cream—make up the largest group of products which have the right to use the Try Fine Food label, while milk-processing plants are the largest group of producers. Milk-processing cooperatives in the towns of Krasnystaw and Czarnków have record numbers of dairy products with the Try Fine Food label in their product lines—more than 25 each. In the latest round of the program, the Mlekpol dairy cooperative in Grajewo was among the milk-processing cooperatives that won Try Fine Food labels for their dairy products. Specifically, the cooperative was singled out for praise for its Masło Extra Łaciate butter. A dairy cooperative in Gostyń won a quality label for its Mleko Zagęszczone Niesłodzone unsweetened condensed milk, and Okręgowa Spółdzielnia Mleczarska Proszkownia Mleka cooperative in Kro¶niewice won a quality label for its Robico kefirs and Zimne Mleko milk.

“Polish milk and dairy products are stable and reliable in terms of quality and taste, which explains why they are highly rated among Polish consumers. The domestic market is still the main sales market for Polish dairy cooperatives and milk-processing plants,” says Agnieszka Maliszewska, an executive at the Polish Chamber of Milk Producers.

Polish dairy products are not only praised at home, but are increasingly highly rated by consumers in other countries. Polish dairy product exports have increased significantly since 2004. The most notable increase has occurred in the case of liquid milk and cream, which, prior to European Union enlargement, were not exported to EU countries. Since 2005, these have accounted for 15 percent of exporters’ revenues. Exports of cheese, powdered milk, yogurt, butter and ice cream are also growing rapidly. Polish dairy products are primarily exported to Germany, followed by the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Italy.

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture shows that Polish dairy product exports increased significantly in the first three quarters of last year. From January to September, the value of exports grew by 33 percent to 858.6 million euros. In the first nine months of last year, the greatest increase in exports was recorded in the case of butter (some 19 percent up on the same period of 2009) and other milk-derived fats (up 98 percent on the same period of 2009). Exports of whey increased by 7 percent. In terms of volume, buttermilk and yogurt exports grew significantly—by 24 percent. Also of note is an almost fourfold increase in the value of exports to Russia, which reached 59 million euros.
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