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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » January 31, 2013
Polska... tastes good!
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Agri-Food Exports Successful
January 31, 2013   
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Poland has recorded a surplus in its trade in agricultural and food products for years.

Food processing and farming in Poland have changed since the country began making preparations for entry to the European Union and then joined the bloc. A lot of money has been invested to modernize farms and food-processing plants. As a result, the latter are now among the most modern in the EU and beyond. Also, many farms are successfully competing on the single market.

Modern crop growing and livestock breeding methods, combined with a focus on preserving natural environmental values and high production quality with the use of well-proven recipes, are the main advantages of Polish farm produce and foodstuffs. Despite the economic crisis in countries which are the largest markets for Polish produce, Poland has managed to keep its exports at a high level.

Poultry, beef, pork, dairy products, chocolate and products containing cocoa, baked goods and confectionery products, such as cookies and waffles, fruit juices, especially apple juice, cigarettes, candy syrups, deep-frozen fish, smoked fish, mainly salmon, sugar and sugar products, and tinned fish have for years been the main Polish food exports. These exports accounts for roughly 50 percent of overall sales of Polish agri-food products on foreign markets.

Poland’s main export items have found buyers in the following countries:
- poultry – Germany, Britain, Czech Republic, France;
- dairy products – Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia,
- beef – Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Germany,
- pork – Belarus, Japan, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Italy,
- chocolate and products containing cocoa – Britain, Germany, Russia,
- biscuits, waffles, bread, cakes and cookies – Germany,
Czech Republic, Britain, Hungary,
- fruit juices, mainly apple juice, and vegetable juices – Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Britain,
- deep-frozen fruit, mainly raspberries, strawberries and cherries – Germany, the Netherlands, France, Belgium.

From January to October 2012, the total value of agri-food exports was 14.2 billion euros, an increase of 14 percent over a year earlier. In the full year 2011 the total value of exports was 15.2 billion euros, up by 12.7 percent year on year. To compare, in 2004, Poland sold 5.2 billion euros worth of agri-food products on foreign markets.

Poland’s agri-food trade has for years been concentrated on the European market, with EU countries playing the largest, though slowly decreasing, role in Polish exports. One of the reasons behind the decrease is Poland’s policy to win markets outside the EU. In the 10 months to the end of October 2012, Poland exported around 11 billion euros worth of goods to the EU, which accounted for 76.4 percent of its overall agri-food exports. The value of exports to the EU went up by 11.2 percent year on year, while the value of exports to EU15 countries rose by 12.9 percent. Exports to the 11 new member states grew by 6.4 percent.

In the full year 2011, exports to the EU were worth 12 billion euros, over three times more than in 2004, when Poland entered the EU. Dairy products, poultry, beef, chocolate and chocolate products, and cigarettes were the main exports on the EU market.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is also a major export market for Polish agri-food products. From January to October 2012, exports to these countries were worth around 1.7 billion euros, which represented an increase by a third compared with a year earlier. The main contribution to this increase came from rising exports of apples, pork and dairy products. Exports to CIS countries accounted for 11.6 percent of the overall value of Poland’s agri-food exports, compared with 10 percent in the same period of 2011. In the full year 2011, exports to CIS countries were worth over 1.5 billion euros.

Germany has been Poland’s main trading partner for years. In January-October 2012, the value of agri-food exports to that country exceeded 3 billion euros, marking an 11-percent increase year on year, with Germany’s share in Poland’s overall agri-food exports at around 22 percent. The export items which made the biggest contribution to Poland’s overall sales on the German market in terms of value were poultry, worth 220 million euros, fruit juices, mainly apple juice, worth 218 million euros, smoked, processed and canned fish, worth 470 million euros, and biscuits, waffles and similar products, deep-frozen fruit, mainly cherries, strawberries and raspberries, cigarettes, milk and cream, and rapeseed. In 2011, the value of exports to Germany reached 3.5 billion euros and was over 2.5 times higher than in 2004.

With 1 billion euros worth of produce bought, Britain was the second biggest importer of Polish agri-food products in the 10 months to the end of October 2012. The value of Poland’s agri-food exports to Britain was 19.3 percent higher than a year earlier, giving Britain a 7.3 percent share in Poland’s overall agri-food exports. Chocolate and products containing cocoa as well as poultry were the main items exported from Poland to Britain. In the full year 2011, exports to Britain were worth 1 billion euros. The value was 10.8 percent higher than in 2010 and almost 3.5 times higher than in 2004.

Russia ranked third among the biggest importers of Polish agri-food products in the period from January to October 2012, with the value of Polish exports to that market at 867 million euros. This represented a 32-percent increase compared with a year earlier, with Russia accounting for 6.1 percent of Poland’s overall agri-food exports. Polish exports to Russia included apples, chocolate and products containing cocoa, cheeses, champignon mushrooms and deep-frozen vegetables. In the full year 2011, Russia imported 805 million euros worth of Polish agri-food products, 7.1 percent more than in 2010 and twice as much as in 2004.

The top importers of Polish agri-food products in January-October 2012 also included the Czech Republic, with 870 million euros worth of goods, France (852 million euros), the Netherlands (790 million euros), and Italy (721 million euros). Cigarettes, poultry and vodka were the main items sold on the French market. The Czech Republic imported mainly poultry, cheeses, cakes and cookies, rapeseed oil and beef. Cigarettes and beef were the chief products exported to the Netherlands and Italy.

Poland is active as an exporter not only in Europe and North America, but also in Asia, the Middle East and the Far East. Terms for the access of Polish food products to Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Singaporean and other Asian markets have been agreed on in the past four years.

In January-October 2012, among its largest trading partners in the region, Poland recorded the highest year-on-year increase in exports to Saudi Arabia – 115.3 percent. This was mainly due to a rise in the exports of cheese, wheat, and chocolate and products containing cocoa to that country. Exports to the United Arab Emirates doubled (a rise of 102 percent), mainly because of a sharp increase in the exports of cigarettes, and chocolate and products containing cocoa. Poland also noted a sharp growth in exports to other Arab countries, such as Libya (up by 663 percent), Yemen (267 percent), Syria (91 percent), Lebanon (89 percent), and Jordan (87 percent).

The increasing opening of Asian markets is good news for Polish businesses and exporters. In January-October 2012, Polish exports to Vietnam went up by 72 percent, as a result of increased sales of fish fillets, mainly those of salmon, and powdered milk and whey. Poland’s trade balance with Japan has significantly improved thanks to growing exports of Polish pork to that country. And a rise in pork and variety meat exports to China contributed to a 43 percent growth in the value of Poland’s overall exports to that country.

Another country where Polish exports almost doubled (a rise of 99 percent) in January-October 2012 is Ireland, because of a high interest from Irish buyers in Polish grains, mainly corn and wheat, and beef. The highest growth in terms of value was recorded in Polish exports to Germany, up by 304,000 euros, Russia, by 209,000 euros, Britain, by 166,000 euros, France, by 144,000 euros, and Ukraine, by 119,000 euros.

Preliminary data show that the value of Polish agri-food exports in January-October 2012 exceeded a record 17 billion euros. The last few months of a year are usually when a sharp slowdown, or decline, is recorded in the pace of month-on-month growth in exports. Meanwhile, October last year saw a more than 9 percent increase over a month earlier, while the average for January-October 2012 was 4 percent.

Poland’s strong trade performance in 2012 means it is possible to be optimistic about Polish agri-food exports in 2013.

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Agricultural Market Department
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