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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » March 27, 2013
Polska… tastes good!
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Trust Essential by Stanisław Kalemba, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
March 27, 2013   
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In my last column I mentioned the scandal involving adulteration of beef with horse meat. The whole matter has broader ramifications. It doesn’t just concern the European Union and the fallout is spreading ever further afield (China, South Africa).

All these cases mean that changes are essential in food production supervision. We have to deal with the changes together, within the EU as a whole. I’m a realist and I fully realize that there’s no way of completely eliminating crime, which is what this is about. However, we can take time to consider how to eliminate these practices as much as possible.

Poland produces very good food. We have good raw materials and advanced processing facilities. Our products have already won recognition on many markets, as shown by our excellent foreign trade figures. That’s why this criminal activity is extraordinarily harmful to the whole sector. We want to clear up all the aspects of such practices quickly and thoroughly. Only then can we counteract them effectively. It’s no secret that it’s relatively easy to go out of business but rebuilding trust takes much longer.

I have no doubt—and I will repeat what I said in my last column—that Polish food holds its own thanks to its high quality, its flavor and its aroma.

This has also been recognized by The Warsaw Voice when choosing the winner of its latest Chair of the Year award. The magazine has decided that the award for 2012 should go to Polish food, acknowledging that it has played an important role in people’s lives. Accepting the award, I pointed out that this is an award for Polish farmers, food processing and other entrepreneurs and exporters. It is thanks to them that our food is becoming better known in the EU and also further afield.

I can clearly see that consumers are keenly searching out traditional, regional foods based on old, tried and tested recipes. People are starting to appreciate natural products and are returning to traditional cooking. We still have a great deal to do in this area. Having excellent products and beautiful culinary traditions, we have to place a greater emphasis on promoting our cuisine, on promoting traditional dishes made from our products. We have an extremely rich culinary heritage based on centuries of diversity, of influences derived from the many different nations that lived on Polish lands in the past. These influences are present in our dishes today, and I’m convinced that many of them will be appreciated by today’s gourmets.

I also talked about Polish food at the First Congress of Agrifood Industry Exporters organized by the Association of Polish Exporters. I pointed out that the Polish food industry is a major food producer in the EU and the biggest food producer among the new EU member states.

The years marked by the rapid development of food production were the result of Poland’s EU accession and support for the sector from public funds. This money was an important source of financing for food industry projects. Investment outlays reached about zl.6.6 billion, and the greatest increase in spending was observed in the meat, poultry, dairy and fish segments. Also important is the rapid development of grocery goods production, which was 4.6 percent higher in 2012 than the year before.

Poland’s agrifood sector is one of the more advanced in the world, and Polish agrifood goods are of the highest quality. Despite the economic crisis in our main buyer countries, we continue to export a lot and the sale of agrifood products is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the economy.

Polish food enjoys a strong and stable position on the European market, where almost 75 percent of our exports end up and which accounts for almost 70 percent of imports. Even so, we are working hard to further diversify our sales markets. I consider this to be one of our more important activities in this area.

A discussion was also held at the agriculture ministry about the promotion of Polish food. I think now, four years after promotion funds kicked in, is a good time to analyze the legal conditions in which they operate. We have to do everything in our power to ensure that the money available is used in the most effective way to benefit producers and processing plants, but also to benefit consumers, who will receive reliable information on products of the highest quality that are also tasty and available on many different markets.
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