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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » December 21, 2011
International Green Week Berlin
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Promoting Polish Food in Berlin
December 21, 2011   
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At last year’s Grüne Woche (Green Week) international agriculture and food fair in Berlin, Germany, Poland was the partner country and its national stand was organized under the auspices of the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The fair attracted more than 400,000 visitors.

Held every year in January, the Grüne Woche fair is a world-famous event designed to promote food and agriculture. Many food producers use it to see how the market will react to their new products. The fair not only draws more than 1,600 exhibitors from nearly 60 countries and over 400,000 visitors, but also has about 300 conferences and seminars, discussion panels and workshops accompanying the main event. The importance of the event is best evidenced by the fact that the last fair attracted 50 agriculture ministers from around the world and 5,000 accredited journalists.

Last year the Grüne Woche fair was held for the 76th time, and Poland was the partner country of the event, which provided a unique opportunity to promote Polish food. This was done under the motto “Poland Schmeckt—Flavors of Poland.”

At the opening of the Polish national stand, Poland’s Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Marek Sawicki said, “We want to invite all comers to take a culinary tour of our country. Not everybody is aware that Polish cuisine is not only very tasty but also healthy. Our traditional recipes, the result of centuries of overlapping cultural influences, are diverse and really good. Through the presentation of Polish food in the form of a culinary tour of our country, we want to encourage visitors to sample traditional products specific to individual regions. We also want to encourage them to visit Poland and find out about its natural, tourist and culinary attractions.”

The Polish stand opening ceremony also drew the German minister for food, agriculture and consumer protection, Ilse Aigner, who thanked Poland for being part of the fair for 25 years.

Thanks to the joint efforts of regional authorities, industry associations and institutions supporting the development of Polish agriculture and the economy as a whole, the Polish stand provided an effective presentation of Polish food. More than 100 Polish companies exhibited their products on an area of almost 1,000 square meters. The main exhibitors were the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the provinces of Ma³opolska, Wielkopolska, £ód¼, Lubuskie, Lower Silesia, Warmia-Mazuria, Western Pomerania, Lublin and Kujawy-Pomerania, in addition to the Association of Sturgeon Fish Processing Plants and a consortium comprising the Association of Polish Butchers and Meat Producers, the Polish Association of Beef Cattle Breeders, the National Poultry Council, the Association of Polish Meat Producers, the Union of Meat Industry Producers and Employers, and the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ).

Individual Polish provinces showcased their regional, local, traditional and organic products, and the Agriculture Ministry’s stand showcased top-quality products with the Try Fine Food quality label. Visitors could taste and purchase confectionery products, baked goods, dairy products, meat, fish, organic food, honey and alcohol. The main focus of the Polish stand was on Polish apples, which were handed out to all visitors to taste.

An extensive program of accompanying events focusing on Polish art and culture was popular with visitors. The Lubuski Song and Dance Ensemble, the Poltex Song and Dance Ensemble from £ód¼, the Pieñkowianie band and a highlanders’ combo performed on the exhibition grounds. Artists from selected regions conducted workshops, and during the last five days of the fair, a sculpture of sticks representing Pegasus, the mythological winged horse, was created on stage. There were also live cooking shows and a tasting of regional specialties and dishes. Celebrity chef Karol Okrasa helped Polish exhibitors promote their products; he presented traditional Polish foods, some of them prepared with the help of government ministers from various countries visiting the stand.

Polish food products attracted a lot of interest during the last fair. Polish exhibitors were particularly happy with the fact that their products struck a chord with German consumers, because almost a quarter of Polish food exports go to Germany.

Poland’s key food exports to the German market in terms of value are fish and fish products, meat and meat products, baked goods, fruit and juices, vegetable oils and chocolate products.

However, Polish products in German grocery stores are often sold under the brands of large retail chains, which require producers to sell their products anonymously. “We want to make sure that Polish products are recognizable. Further promotional activities in Germany will serve this goal,” said Sawicki. “The continually growing exports of Polish agricultural products prove that consumers in Europe and elsewhere are interested in our food. That is why we will be offering Polish products more and more aggressively on a growing number of new markets.”

The Grüne Woche 2011 fair also provided an opportunity to debate the future of European and global agriculture. “Forecasts show that demand for food will increase significantly in the next 20 to 30 years,” said Sawicki in Berlin. “The future of European agriculture will largely depend on the shape of the Common Agricultural Policy. Today is a good time to look for the best solutions. The new Common Agricultural Policy must be simple, transparent and free from its historical legacy. A real rather than a surface-level reform is needed. The Common Agricultural Policy must ensure the modernization and restructuring of EU agriculture, and its improved competitiveness on the international market at a time of progressive liberalization.”

Sawicki called for a joint move away from thinking in terms of individual countries in favor of treating European agriculture as a single whole. “European agriculture is expected to ensure food security for half a billion consumers, as well as protecting the environment,” Sawicki said.
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