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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » May 31, 2012
Polska… tastes good!
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Beef on Every Table
May 31, 2012   
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A new food promotion campaign that aims to increase the consumption of beef is in progress in Poland. It focuses on quality beef under the Quality Meat Program (QMP).

According to Tadeusz Nalewajk, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the per capita consumption of beef in Poland declined from almost 18 kilograms in 1989 to 3 kilograms in 2010.

“We have undertaken efforts to help beef producers and increase the consumption of beef,” said Nalewajk.

Following a decision by the European Commission, the QMP system has obtained financial support from the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program. “Everything seems to indicate that, starting June, we will be able to offer financial assistance to projects related to the QMP system,” Nalewajk said. Updated regulations will permit assistance for cattle breeders, including 100-percent reimbursement of the costs of inspection, certification and participation in the QMP system. No less important, meat processing plants will be able to apply to the Agricultural Market Agency (ARR) for 70-percent subsidies to information and promotion campaigns for QMP beef. Such campaigns will involve distribution channels, retail chains, and points of sale.

QMP is a nationwide voluntary system for ensuring high quality. Under Polish and EU legislation, the system is open to all producers and other participants in the supply chain. Every meat producer can join in if they comply with the system’s standards. The QMP certificate makes it possible to track down the origin of meat by identifying the source not only in terms of individual breeders, but even a specific head of cattle.

According to Lucjan Zwolak, deputy president of the Agricultural Market Agency, the agency has 10 million euros available for promotion and information as part of the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program. “The agency is ready to transfer the funds and we are also counting on projects related to the QMP quality system,” Zwolak said. “Beef producers are also eligible for export subsidies. Last year, we paid out over zl.45 million in export subsidies on the market for beef and this year, the figure has reached zl.13 million and counting. Moreover, we support large promotional campaigns financed with EU funds.”

The new promotional campaign is expected to encourage Polish consumers to eat more beef because for the time being Polish beef is more popular abroad than at home.

High in protein, beef is an important and natural source of nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin B complex, making it one of the most nutritious kinds of meat, experts say. When properly prepared, beef is medium-calorie meat that delivers large quantities of valuable proteins to the body. Beef proteins contain an optimal composition of exogenous amino acids, as a result of which they are easily absorbable by humans.

The main mineral components of beef are phosphor and iron. Beef steaks deliver a considerable part of the amount of vitamin B12 which the body needs. Vitamin B12 deficiencies lead to a number of neurological, hematological and mental problems, as a result of which vegetarians and vegans need to take the vitamin in pills. Beef also contains other vitamins of the B group—B1 and B6. According to dietitians, the most nutritious beef comes from cattle aged around two, but other kinds of beef on the market come from dairy cows, older oxen and calves. Veal is considered the most tender in taste.

Beef trade in Poland was revived when the country joined the EU in 2004. In the first year following accession, Polish beef exports increased 70 percent compared with the previous year. By 2011, the exports of beef and veal more than trebled, from 92,000 to 31,400 metric tons. Almost 80 percent of the exports go to EU member states.

Polish beef owes its popularity to its high quality and competitive prices. For example, last year Polish beef cost 10 percent less than the EU average. Back in 2004, Polish beef was 30 percent cheaper than in the EU as a whole.

Preliminary Finance Ministry data show that Polish exports of live cattle, raw and processed beef and veal, and beef-and-veal offal reached a high of 329,000 metric tons in 2011. Around 75 percent of the beef and veal produced in Poland was sold abroad last year, while at the same time Poland imported 22,000 metric tons of beef and veal. Experts predict that this year Polish beef will be harder to sell because of declining demand on foreign markets, high prices at home, and growing competition from foreign producers, including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
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