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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » July 30, 2012
Polska... tastes good!
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Food Producers Aim to Increase Exports
July 30, 2012   
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Polish food produce is mainly shipped to other European Union countries, where it has a reputation for quality and taste. But Polish food producers are also gradually increasing their exports to other markets around the world.

Polish food is increasingly highly valued by consumers in many countries. The best proof of this is the continued growth in Polish agri-food exports, which were last year worth more than 14 billion euros, a record figure and 11.8 percent higher in 2010. Poland recorded a food trade surplus of around 3 billion euros in 2011. This year, Polish exporters have also been doing well. In the first quarter of the year, Polish food producers exported around 3.8 billion euros worth of agri-food products, an increase of 8.5 percent from the same period last year.

Polish agri-food products may become even more popular abroad after the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, which Poland hosted together with Ukraine in June, when Polish food and culinary traditions were promoted in various ways. “I have no doubt that Polish food exports will increase after Euro 2012 because soccer fans who had a chance to taste our specialties will be looking for them in their own countries,” says Poland’s Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Marek Sawicki.

The largest quantities of Polish food end up in other EU countries. In the first quarter of this year, the EU market accounted for almost three-quarters of Poland’s food exports. However, CIS countries were where Poland’s exports grew at the fastest rate, by 17.3 percent in the first quarter, to nearly 480 million euros.

Experts say that a further increase in exports to EU markets will be difficult, so Polish exporters instead need to focus on new markets such as China, Japan and South Korea. Further opportunities are presented by a revival of trade with Russia, which was once Poland’s main trading partner.

Poland’s food exports to Russia have been growing for several years, but their level is still unsatisfactory. The most popular Polish products among Russian consumers include fruit, most notably apples, followed by fresh, processed and frozen vegetables, dairy products, meat and meat products, chocolate products, pastries and flowers. The sharpest increase has recently occurred in exports of meat, dairy products and chocolate.

Trade between Poland and Russia is considerably influenced by politics and every time tensions arise in bilateral relations, restrictions appear on imports of Polish products to Russia. The most notable example was an embargo on imports of meat and plant products which Russia imposed in 2005. For several years, Russia has been curbing imports of food by creating different obstacles in trade such as duty rates, import quotas, charges and special certificates needed by producers to export goods to Russia. These stem from the fact that Russia wants to be self-sufficient when it comes to food production.

According to experts, an increase in exports of unprocessed agricultural products is unlikely. Better sales can be achieved if Polish companies join forces with companies in Russia to, for example, use partly-finished goods from Poland to launch production in Russia. Exports to Russia could also be increased by building a wholesale center for Polish produce in that country; such establishments are already run in Russia by other countries.

Poland has also been trying to introduce its food to Asian markets and the Polish Day at the international Expo fair in Shanghai served this purpose. The Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development signed a protocol with China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine on supervision and veterinarian requirements regarding Polish pork exports to China. The protocol is a major step toward enabling exports of Polish pork and pork products to the Chinese market.

Another promising market is South Korea. The value of Polish food exports to that country quadrupled to 46 million euros last year. This is the result of efforts including the “Tableful of Flavors” program which was carried out by the Polish Association of Meat Industry Producers and Employers two years ago, and the follow-up program “Tradition, European Flavors.” According to Sawicki, if Polish food exports to the South Korean market continue to grow at the present rate, it will be possible to think of increasing sales in that country to 400-500 million euros annually over the next several years.

The agriculture ministry has also undertaken efforts to start exporting food to Singapore and Vietnam. It is also focusing on Arab markets, which have shown an interest in Polish dairy products.

In the drive to increase food exports, Polish producers benefit from superb natural resources, state-of-the-art processing plants and proven recipes. New funding available for promotion will help increase exports to more markets. The funding will create opportunities to launch new, bigger advertising campaigns and, consequently, increase foreign consumers’ taste for Polish food.
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