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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » January 26, 2012
Polska…tastes good!
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Polish Meat in Asia
January 26, 2012   
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By Marek Sawicki, PhD, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
Before Poland joined the EU, the Polish public heard frightening predictions that food from Western Europe would flood the market in Poland. While the predictions were really propaganda by those who opposed European integration, some concerns were nevertheless there, because no decision maker in Poland and abroad could have predicted what happened afterwards. Nobody expected that Polish food and agricultural products would become the only Polish exports to show a trade surplus year after year. The value of the exports has risen steadily, and judging by preliminary data, last year’s food exports probably exceeded 14 billion euros with a trade surplus of 3 billion euros.

EU member states are still the main buyers of Polish exports and the statistics are clearly topped by neighboring Germany. It is only natural that sales are the highest between countries which lie closest to each other, especially as far as trade in food is concerned. Still, the world keeps shrinking and long distances no longer matter as much as they used to.

The demand for food will continue to increase, especially in the most populous regions of the world, Asia in particular. Asia is home to more people than any other continent, and China alone has a population of 1.3 billion. Coupled with the rapid GDP growth in China that began many years ago, the increasing demand for food comes as no surprise. When a society becomes more affluent, not only luxurious goods sell better, but the public’s eating habits change. Wealthier societies seek food of high quality that tastes good, as they can afford to pay more for it.

Asia’s opening to international trade is good news for Polish exporters. Poland is highly interested in such developments, because 27 percent of Polish agricultural production is now sent to buyers abroad. Consequently, Poland is making efforts to promote agricultural produce in different corners of the world. We keep searching for new markets and take part in numerous trade fairs and exhibitions. Funds earmarked for promotion by the government during its previous term play an important role here. Good results can only be accomplished with appropriate financial resources, continually improved absorption of EU funds and efforts undertaken by exporters themselves.

As far as the Agriculture Ministry is concerned, the chief task is to define and negotiate conditions on access to different markets. I have visited many countries over the past four years to discuss opportunities for Polish food and agricultural products to be exported to Asian markets. The conditions under which Polish food can be put on local markets have been negotiated for countries including Japan, China, Vietnam, and Singapore. There has been an upsurge in exports to Turkey, and Poland has also resumed exports to the United Arab Emirates.

In March last year, the Association of Polish Butchers and Processed Meat Producers signed a contract with the Agricultural Market Agency on a two-year promotional campaign in five countries: Russia, Ukraine, China, Thailand and Singapore. The campaign is a follow-up to the “Meat and Meat-Based Products—Tradition and Flavors” campaign which was conducted in China, Japan, Russia and Ukraine. Similar to the first campaign, the promotional activities focus on trade fairs. The new campaign, entitled “European Tables—Tradition, Modernity, Quality,” concerns fresh, chilled and frozen meat and meat products, including fresh, chilled and frozen beef, veal and pork. The campaign’s budget totals 3.1 million euros, including an EU grant of 1.55 million euros. Polish public funds for the campaign exceed 930,000 euros and the remaining 620,000-plus euros are the meat sector’s own resources.

Meanwhile, the Union of Meat Industry Producers and Employers (UPEMI) has been conducting an information and promotional campaign entitled “Tradition, Quality and European Flavors.” The campaign, funded jointly by the EU and Poland, is being carried out simultaneously on the markets in Vietnam, South Korea and the United States.

I am confident that, combined with these campaigns, Polish exporters’ improving insight into the market and the international public’s increasing familiarity with Polish food will soon trigger greater interest in Polish products across Asia. It is a highly interesting and absorptive market and finding new markets is beneficial to Poland, because, as I said, 27 percent of the country’s agricultural production is sold abroad.
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