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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » February 23, 2012
Polska…tastes good!
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Polish Food Promoted in Berlin
February 23, 2012   
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More than 400,000 visitors flocked to this year’s Grüne Woche (Green Week) international agriculture and food fair in Berlin Jan. 20-29. As last year, Poland took part in the fair under the motto “Polska... schmeckt!” (Polska… Tastes Good), a message illustrated by delicious-looking, mouth-watering Polish apples.

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 70 agriculture ministers from around the world.

This year’s fair was officially opened by the German minister for food, agriculture and consumer protection, Ilse Aigner, in a ceremony that was attended by the Polish agriculture and rural development minister, Marek Sawicki. The latter said that Grüne Woche is a prestigious event and that Poland has been a regular participant for several years. “It’s a great place to discuss issues important to agriculture and food security in the broad sense,” Sawicki said. “We take advantage of this opportunity. Poland has a wide range of produce to offer. We are proud of our quality produce. Consumers already appreciate the fact that Polish ham tastes like ham, sausage like sausage, and eggs like eggs. These products, despite the crisis, are selling very well on European markets.”

Aigner said that German consumers are already familiar with the taste of Polish food and that Polish products can increasingly be found on German tables. Around a quarter of Poland’s agri-food exports go to the German market. In 2011, these exports increased by 11 percent from 2010, to 3 billion euros.

Poland’s national stand at this year’s fair consisted of a stand put up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and 12 regional stands. The ministry’s stand featured 27 companies whose products carry the Try Fine Food label. There were also performances by Polish folk groups and combos as well as art shows. Producer associations known as Local Action Groups also showed their wares at the ministry’s stand. The associations included Le¶ny Kr±g (Forest Circle) and Zielony Pier¶cieñ (Green Ring) from Lublin province, Na ¶liwkowym szlaku (The Plum Route) from Ma³opolska province, and ¯ywiecki Raj (¯ywiec Paradise) from Silesia province.

The regional stands enabled visitors to taste many traditional and regional specialties of Polish cuisine, and other attractions included demonstrations of weaving, playing a pedal concertina, pierogi making, wood carving, and juice pressing. Visitors could also find out about the history of Poland’s regional oscypek cheese, see how “peasant soup” is made, how pierogi are prepared, how to decorate porcelain with traditional ornaments, and how to paint Easter eggs. Polish fruit wines made from blackcurrants, rowanberries, chokeberries and rosehip also attracted a lot of interest.

Grüne Woche is not only an opportunity to promote food, but also a venue for debate about key agricultural policy issues. Berlin also hosted the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture this year, accompanied by the Berlin Summit of Agriculture Ministers. The latter was organized by the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The main theme of this year’s forum was “Food security through sustainable growth: farming with limited resources.”

Summit participants agreed that the issue of food security should continue to top the political agenda at both the global and national levels. They also said that the global food situation remains tense. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the number of people afflicted by hunger worldwide approached 925 million last year, with the total world population at around 6.9 billion. The world population is expected to rise to over 9 billion by 2050.

Poland’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Andrzej Butra took part in the summit. He said, “In the area of food security, Poland assigns a key role to sustainable production growth and aiming at sustainability of agriculture that takes into account issues relating to climate, protection of natural resources, particularly access to potable water, and care for biodiversity. To this end, we should take adaptive measures by applying biological progress, but also counteract the increasing effects of climate change and support the development of agricultural production through sustainable growth.”

Butra added that agriculture also faced the task of adapting its production processes to the changing climate and of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “We cannot forget that we live in a dynamically changing world and that the solutions we apply today may turn out insufficient to respond to the challenges of the future,” he said. “We should take the long view. The European Union should lead the way in this area by showing in practice what the idea of sustainable development is, how to strengthen the competitive position of producers, ensure food security and preserve environmental assets at the same time.”
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