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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » May 27, 2011
Polska… tastes good!
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Growing Appetite for Quality Cold Cuts
May 27, 2011   
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Demand on the Polish market is growing for high-quality cold cuts and sausages from the premium segment. Brand-name processed meats from Poland are also finding more and more buyers in other countries.

Cold cuts and sausages are an important component of our diets because the meat in them contains high-quality and easily digestible nutrients, valuable proteins, minerals, fats and B vitamins, and also vitamins A and D. The role of protein from meat is invaluable, since proteins are essential for the proper development of the human body. They are a building material and the most important nutrient. Fat, on the other hand, protects the body from heat loss, helps absorb vitamins and is necessary for hormones to work properly. In meat, the greatest amount of fat is found in pork while the leanest meat is veal. The most important minerals supplied by meat are zinc, copper and iron.

Processed meat products, mainly ham and sausages, were very popular in Poland as far back as pre-Slavic times. Sausage (kiełbasa) was served at home to nobles, townspeople and peasants alike. Seasoned in many different ways, sausages were eaten for breakfast and before dinner. In the old days the main methods of “producing” cold cuts was drying, by hanging the meat from the ceiling to mature, and smoking—in natural smoke, of course. Meat filling was stuffed into natural casings like intestines and stomachs; of course no chemicals were used, just a great variety of spices.

The average Pole eats 65 kg of meat and processed meat products per year, or about 20 percent less than the average European Union citizen. Over a quarter of processed meats eaten in Polish homes today are premium cold cuts and sausages. The demand for these is growing as the population’s affluence increases.

Among the high-quality products, we can distinguish luxury and traditional cold cuts and sausages, the top level in this market segment. Estimates from the Polish Meat Association say that the share of traditional cold cuts and sausages in Poland’s processed meat market is about 3-4 percent at present, similar to the share of luxury meat products. Demand would be much greater if it were not for the fact that luxury and traditional products are several dozen percent more expensive than those made on an industrial scale, due to high production costs. In this segment, 1 kg of meat usually yields no more than 0.5-0.7 kg of end product; in the case of cheap popular products, 1 kg of meat can even yield more than 2 kg of processed product.

Today the sale of traditional and luxury cold cuts and sausages is limited to the biggest urban centers. Such products are usually sold in small luxury stores specializing in traditional products, located in shopping malls, for example. Interest in luxury meat products is much smaller in provincial areas and is more seasonal, with demand growing near Christmas or Easter. This makes large meat processing plants focus on mass production and treat the production of traditional products mainly as an attractive complement to their range.

Janusz Rodziewicz, president of the Association of Polish Butchers and Producers of Processed Meat, says the current demand for traditional and regional products is linked to a desire (especially in the older generation) to return to the “flavors of one’s youth.” “On the other hand,” he told the website portalspozywczy.pl, “the choice is made particularly by young, educated people, very often parents of small children who want to give them food of the best quality and flavor.”

Polish meat products are also well known in other countries. Traditionally, the highest sales are in large expatriate centers in the United States and Britain.

However, it’s not just expatriate Poles who enjoy these tasty products. Increased exports of processed meat to Britain following the latest emigration wave stimulated interest in Polish cold cuts and sausages among British gourmets.

The premium processed meat on offer includes products with the Poznaj Dobrą Żywność (Try Fine Food) label, which is a guarantee of high and stable quality, raw materials from known sources and processing technologies ensuring safety and excellent flavor. For example, the Poznaj Dobrą Żywność label has been granted to many varieties of ham, sausage and pork loin products from Zakłady Mięsne Grupy Sokołów SA, Grupa Polski Koncern Mięsny Duda SA and Zakład Mięsny “Mościbrody” in Mościbrody. Producers of kiełbasa krakowska sucha (dried Cracow sausage), a highly valued sausage in Poland, whose product received the Poznaj Dobrą Żywność label include Stół Polski Sp. z o.o. Zakład Produkcyjny w Ciechanowcu from the PKM Duda group, Zakłady Mięsne “PAMSO” SA in Pabianice, and Zakłady Mięsne “SKIBA” Andrzej Skiba from Chojnice.

A dozen or so labels have also been awarded to a producer of premium processed poultry-meat goods: Kutnowskie Zakłady Drobiarskie “EXDROB” SA in Kutno. This business’s award-winning products include szynka wiejska z gęsi (goose-meat countryside ham), kiełbasa z gęsi podsuszana (goose-meat dried sausage), polędwica łososiowa z indyka (turkey-meat cold-smoked loin salmon style). Płockie Zakłady Drobiarskie SADROB SA’s award-winning products include indyk w galarecie (jellied turkey loaf), kindziuk z indyka (turkey-meat kindziuk sausage), and szynka senatorska z indyka (turkey-meat senator sausage).

Poznaj Dobrą Żywność, a Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development program launched in 2004, is currently one of almost 400 programs aimed at promoting quality food products in European Union countries. The program aims to provide consumers with reliable information that a product meets more stringent—extra or specific—quality requirements than usual, confirmed by independent inspection bodies and organizations. Products taking part in the Poznaj Dobrą Żywność program receive the special label as proof that they fulfill additional requirements in terms of the quality of raw materials and production and/or processing methods.

The Poznaj Dobrą Żywność label is granted to products with a solid market position, identifiable by consumers, produced and present on the market for at least a year, whose production follows proper procedures of identification along the entire food production chain, including procedures for withdrawing a product that fails to meet the requirements. Since the start of the program, more than 1,000 Polish products from over 100 producers have received the Poznaj Dobrą Żywność label. Today 474 products made by 75 companies are entitled to use it.
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