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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » March 27, 2013
Polska... tastes good!
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Food Exports Break Records
March 27, 2013   
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Poland’s agrifood exports were worth a record 17.5 billion euros in 2012, growing almost 15 percent from 2011. The balance of trade for the food sector was also impressive at about 4.2 billion euros. This year, a further increase and a new record are probable, officials say.

High agrifood exports can in part be attributed to the fact that Poland is still able to produce food at a relatively cheap cost, which has become especially important at a time of economic slowdown. That would not be possible, however, without modernizing production facilities. “The years marked by the rapid development of food production were the result of Poland’s EU accession and support for the sector coming from public funds,” said Stanis³aw Kalemba, Poland’s minister of agriculture and rural development, at the First Congress of Agrifood Industry Exporters held by the Association of Polish Exporters in March. “This money was an important source for financing investment projects in the food industry. Investment outlays reached zl.6.6 billion, and the greatest intensification of spending was in the meat, poultry, dairy and fish segments.”

Kalemba highlighted the rapid growth of agrifood production, which increased by 4.6 percent from the previous year. Among all the foreign markets to which Polish agrifood products are sold, the biggest exports were to Germany. These totaled 3.5 billion euros last year, an increase of 11.6 percent over 2011. Britain came in second among Poland’s largest food export markets, with 1.2 billion euros. Compared with the previous year, this meant an increase of 20 percent. Exports to Russia increased the most. Their value last year exceeded 1 billion euros, an increase of 30 percent over the previous year. In terms of the Russian market, Polish producers are helped by prices that are lower than in Western Europe. The competitive edge of Polish food exporters over producers from America or Australia is strengthened by the small distances that keep transport costs relatively low.

Market studies show that Poland’s exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States and Asia are growing as well. These are very large markets that look promising for Polish exporters. Noticeable export growth has also been reported in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Jordan and Yemen.

Conquering new markets will not be possible without improving the competitiveness of Polish agrifood exports as well as promotional efforts. Participants in the recent Congress of Polish Agrifood Industry Exporters called for continued informational and promotional activities on international markets, especially priority ones like Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan, Algeria and Turkey.

Those present at the conference agreed that more intensive work is needed to take advantage of opportunities created by the diversification of export markets. This was said in connection with non-European Union markets such as the Far East, South Asia and Africa—including the Arab Maghreb countries—and with regard to using the expatriate Polish business and media community to promote economic cooperation with Poland, including openings for exports and investment and other projects. Speakers also pointed to the positive role of economic information and journalism in the domestic media: the press, radio and television.

All the signs suggest that this year, too, exports of Polish food will rise. “Forecasts by specialists say the upward trend in agrifood foreign trade will continue this year,” Kalemba said. “Despite the attacks on the quality of our food that we have experienced from the start of the year, export growth should not slow down. We have grounds to look toward the agrifood foreign trade results with optimism this year as well.”

Andrzej Gantner, director-general of the Polish Federation of Food Producers (PFP¯), predicts that Polish export growth this year should be at least 7-8 percent.

“Looking at the overall prospects of the food economy in Poland, the EU and elsewhere, you could say that Polish products will maintain their competitive edge and the Polish agrifood industry will continue to develop,” Gantner said.
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