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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » May 28, 2013
Polska… tastes good!
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Beefing up Polish Beef
May 28, 2013   
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The QMP certification system for beef is an opportunity to improve the image of Polish meat.

Recent media reports about various countries questioning the quality of Polish meat has made consumers more cautious as they shop for food. The best choice for those with doubts is to buy meat with a quality certificate. One of these is the Quality Meat Program (QMP), a beef certification system developed by the Polish Beef Cattle Breeders’ Association.

The QMP–Good Beef campaign promoting beef among consumers, retailers and restaurateurs kicked off in March. The campaign is supported by the government-run Agricultural Market Agency (ARR), using European Union co-financing and funds available under a special beef promotion program. The aim is to reinvigorate the beef market in Poland.

Beef consumption in Poland has been decreasing steadily for many years. According to the Central Statistical Office (GUS), in 1990 beef consumption per capita in Poland stood at 16.4 kg. In 2012, the figure was just 2.2 kg, according to the Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics. Among other factors, this significant drop is due to the fact that beef was much cheaper in the 1990s and more readily available than pork or poultry.

Surveys show that the current level of consumption is low mainly because beef is too expensive, combined with changing dietary habits, a lack of standards guaranteeing consistent quality and poor knowledge on the nutritional value of beef and of easy ways of preparing it. This is confirmed by a consumer poll that the Umbrella Marketing Group conducted two years ago at the request of the Polish Beef Cattle Breeders’ Association. It found that the main barriers affecting beef sales are prices (higher than for other meat), difficulties in cooking it, and low popularity. At the same time, consumers said they were open to buying quality beef and would be prepared to pay more for it.

To revive the Polish beef market, the Polish Beef Cattle Breeders’ Association developed a system of standardization, certification and labeling for beef.

This is the QMP system, which is modeled after programs that work well in other countries. It involves detailed monitoring of the entire production process, from the kind of feed given to cattle, through breeding, slaughtering, to meat rendering according to specific guidelines, and the transport, packing and labeling of meat.

The QMP system gives buyers a guarantee of quality. Sales outlets are offered high-quality meat that customers can trust. The catering industry and consumers can be sure the meat has great flavor. Beef produced under the QMP system is always equally tender and juicy.

A QMP quality symbol on packaging is a guarantee for consumers that the product they are buying went through a strict inspection process before ending up on the store shelf. The QMP system also enables the meat to be identified at all stages of production, processing and distribution. Safety in the case of QMP beef means the source is always trustworthy and the product is fully identifiable. The retail packaging of meat produced in the QMP system always contains information regarding which part of the carcass the cut is from, how to cook it and store it, as well as information about the producer and the expiration date.

According to the campaign organizers, complete control over the entire production chain is hugely important in view of the recent cases of fraud involving meat, which not only dented consumer confidence in meat and meat products but also hit producers and processing businesses, damaging their credibility. Losses were also suffered by Polish exporters, who now find it harder to convince their Western partners to buy meat products from Poland. Meanwhile, a case of horsemeat being added to beef and meat that did not meet veterinary standards found at one slaughterhouse are incidents that would never have happened in a certified production system.

The information campaign under way aims to promote the QMP quality system as well as informing consumers, catering business operators and distribution channel operators about the special qualities of QMP beef. The three-year campaign will include presentations of QMP beef at all kinds of events. Makro Cash & Carry stores will be the venue for presentations for all the target groups. Catering professionals will be able to take part in special culinary demonstrations by chefs from the Makro Cash & Carry Effective Enterprise Academy.

The www.kochamwolowine.pl website gives details on good QMP beef and where it is available, and offers recipes for beef dishes and more information about the campaign itself.
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