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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » January 26, 2012
Polska… tastes good!
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Promoting Polish Produce
January 26, 2012   
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Poland’s turn at the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of last year offered an excellent opportunity to promote Polish food.

As part of the Polish presidency, Poland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development carried out a number of projects under the motto “Polska… Tastes Good!” aiming to highlight the selling points of Polish food and show that it will meet the expectations of even the most demanding consumers in Europe. The most spectacular campaigns included the tasting of Polish regional products in European institutions.

The start of the Polish presidency in July provided an opportunity to put in a plug for the quality and taste of Polish strawberries from the Kashubia region at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Marek Sawicki, the Polish minister of agriculture and rural development, brought to Strasbourg a generous 3.5 metric tons of strawberries and distributed them—in packages of half a kilogram each—under the label “Polska… Tastes Good!” Sawicki said that such produce helps demonstrate the diversity as well as the quality and value of Polish food.

The first Polish fruit to be covered by protection under European Union law was the Kashubian strawberry (truskawka kaszubska in Polish, kaszëbskô malëna in Kashubian)—known for its distinct taste and aroma. Its name was registered in November 2009 as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in the EU.

Members of the European Parliament and other EU institutions also had a chance to sample Polish apples as part of the “Polska… Tastes Good!” promotional campaign. The tasting of Polish apples from the Ł±cko Valley took place at the end of September last year at the European Parliament and European Council headquarters in Brussels. The apples, known for their slightly tart taste and firm texture, were brought by Polish Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki. A total of 12,000 apples were served to Eurodeputies and others participating in a meeting of the EU council of ministers responsible for agriculture and fisheries and members of task forces that convened at the Council building.

Finally, the rogal ¶więtomarciński (St. Martin’s roll), a crescent-shaped sweet bun traditionally made in the midwestern Polish city of Poznań and other towns in Wielkopolska province, took Brussels by storm in November. Sawicki brought with him 5,000 of these delicious products, famous for their taste, to treat other EU agriculture ministers and delegations to the meeting of the Council, as well as Council employees. The rogal ¶więtomarciński owes its fame to the traditional methods by which it is made and the use of specific ingredients. Its quality largely results from the use of a rare filling from white poppy seeds combined with almond flavoring. This delicacy has been popular in Poland for more than 150 years.

The tastings of Polish regional delicacies in EU institutions are only the most spectacular example of efforts to promote Polish food on European markets. Promotion is key these days. Agricultural production is not a problem; selling the produce is becoming a growing challenge. With the progressive liberalization of global trade, the promotion of and information about individual products are increasingly important. It is important to make consumers aware about the quality of products. In Poland, this goal is served by the Agriculture Ministry’s Try Fine Food program for promoting high-quality produce.

Most Polish farmers use traditional methods to produce food. Thanks to this, Polish food is increasingly popular with consumers in Europe and elsewhere. Despite difficult weather conditions, Polish farmers have coped well amid international competition. Preliminary data show that the trade of Polish farm produce and foodstuffs in 2011 was at a record high. The Ministry of Agriculture expects that the total value of exports of these products will exceed 14 billion euros, with a 3-billion-euro trade surplus. These figures are in part due to promotional campaigns.

Promotional efforts are generally made at three levels: local, European and global. One of the most important events during the Polish presidency was an informal meeting of EU ministers for agriculture and fisheries in the southwestern Polish city of Wrocław, where officials discussed future policy for promoting agri-food products in both EU and non-EU countries. Topics included ongoing work on the European Commission’s “Green Paper on promotion measures and information provision for agricultural products.”

In turn, officials taking part in a meeting of the Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries, held in Brussels in December, managed to reach consensus—for the first time in years—and agree on conclusions for the future agriculture promotion policy.
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