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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » December 19, 2013
Polska... tastes good!
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Polish Agri-Food Exports in 2013: Another Good Year
December 19, 2013   
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Polish agri-food products are increasingly popular abroad. This is confirmed by statistics on Poland’s agri-food product exports for the first three quarters of 2013. Meanwhile, the role of agricultural raw materials in exports is decreasing, while that of highly processed goods is growing—an unquestionable indication that the food processing industry is developing.

Polish farm produce and foodstuffs attract international buyers with their quality and competitive prices. Providing quality food requires responsibility and attention at all stages of the food chain, starting from the production of ingredients, through processing, all the way to consumer purchases of food. Farmers need to be aware of the need to improve the quality of their produce, modernize their farms, implement integrated or organic production systems that are beneficial for consumers and the environment. Food processing companies need to implement advanced technologies, use quality ingredients and introduce quality management systems that guarantee consumers access to quality food.

A parallel segment that is developing thanks to substantial interest from Polish consumers is that of traditional foodstuffs, made from original recipes with a production tradition going back many generations.

Polish food is winning new markets thanks to cooperation between agricultural producers and processing companies, but at the same time consolidation in this group offers the biggest reserves in terms of maintaining and expanding foreign trade in agri-food products. Concentrating food production and processing ensures greater financial capacity for acquiring new technologies and maintaining the high quality of end products as well as seeking new trading partners and taking on the challenges of organic production.

That agri-food products have been growing in importance in Poland’s foreign trade for many years is confirmed by their 12.5-percent share in total exports and their rapid pace of growth compared with other sectors.

From January to September 2013 agri-food exports were worth 14.4 billion euros, which is 12.3 percent more than in the same period of the previous year and 3.6 times the value for the whole of 2003.

Rapid export growth is reported in sales within the European Union, where 78 percent of Polish agri-food products make their way (11.2 billion euros in the first three quarters of 2013). Exports within the EU in 2013 grew by 13.5 percent, and to the “EU15” by 13.9 percent. Agri-food exports to non-EU markets grew as well.

Germany, traditionally the biggest importer of Polish food and produce, bought 3.2 billion euros worth of goods from Poland last year, up from 2.8 billion euros a year earlier. This translated into 18 percent growth compared with the same period of 2012 and a 22.5 percent share in agri-food exports.

Among the main items exported to Germany, the most rapid pace of growth year-on-year was reported for rapeseed (exports worth 180 million euros, double the previous value), smoked fish (308 million euros, 40-percent growth), beef (88 million euros, more than 30-percent growth), wheat (84 million euros, 20-percent growth), cigarettes (121 million euros, 20-percent growth), chocolate and chocolate goods (94 million euros, about 20-percent growth). Other major products sold to Germany included fruit juice (204 million euros), poultry meat (184 million euros), bread and other baked goods (141 million euros), frozen fruit (105 million euros), and dairy products (98 million euros).

Poland’s second-largest partner in agri-food exports is Britain, with exports for the first three quarters of 2013 worth 1.1 billion euros, which translates into 12.3-percent year-on-year growth and a 7.5-percent share in agri-food exports. Among the main goods sold to the British market, the highest export growth rate was reported for fruit juice (exports worth 59 million euros, 55-percent growth), bread and other baked goods (45 million euros and 50-percent growth), pork and giblets, brined and salted (72 million euros and 23-percent growth). Other food exports to Britain included chocolate and chocolate goods worth 189 million euros, poultry meat worth 104 million euros, and fresh and refrigerated vegetables worth 33 million euros.

The third-largest market for Polish agri-food products is Russia. Exports to Russia in 2013 exceeded 900 million euros, which meant an increase of 20 percent compared with the same period of the previous year. The biggest item on the list of exports to Russia is fruit, mainly apples (25 percent of exports), fresh and frozen vegetables and meat. Compared with 2012, the biggest growth was recorded in the export of pork (exports worth 68 million euros, more than twice the previous figure), cheese (72 million euros, more than 50-percent growth), apples (228 million euros and 40-percent growth), bread and other baked goods (27 million euros, almost 30-percent growth), frozen vegetables (30 million euros, almost 20-percent growth).

Poland is actively seeking new markets for its agri-food products not only among its neighbors and other EU countries, but also in the Far and Middle East. The diversification of the country’s export markets is essential for maintaining a steady supply of buyers for Polish products on the rapidly changing global market for produce and food.

The first three quarters of 2013 saw a rapid growth of exports to China. Poland’s agri-food exports to that country almost tripled, reaching 112 million euros, mainly thanks to pork exports increasing more than six times and dairy exports (mainly milk powder and whey) and sales of edible giblets (not including poultry giblets) almost tripling.

Exports to Libya grew by 67 percent to 23 million euros. Sales of chocolate and chocolate goods to this market tripled, cheese sales grew by 66 percent, and a large amount of barley was exported there for the first time as well.

Agri-food exports to Saudi Arabia grew by 47 percent to about 105 million euros. This was possible thanks to doubled wheat exports and 71-percent growth in the export of chocolate and goods containing cocoa.

The United Arab Emirates is another country for which Poland reports significant growth in agri-food exports. From January to September 2013 these were worth almost 60 million euros, which means 40-percent growth compared with the previous year. Sales of chocolate and goods containing cocoa grew 68 percent and cigarette exports increased by 37 percent.

Exports to Uzbekistan grew 77 percent, chiefly due to beef sales growing fivefold. Poland exported 38 million euros worth of agri-food products to Uzbekistan between January and September 2013.

Agri-food exports to Japan continued to expand as well, chiefly driven by pork, which accounted for 80 percent of Poland’s food exports to that country.

For many years Poland’s agri-food exports have been dominated by meat and meat products, dairy products, baked goods, confectionery and chocolate, fresh and frozen fruit, fruit juice, fresh and frozen vegetables, cigarettes and smoked fish. Poland sells these goods to its long-standing, traditional buyers as well as new markets won in recent years.

In the first three quarters of 2013, Poland exported 1.26 million metric tons of meat and meat products worth a total 2.8 billion euros (up from 1.15 million tons worth 2.58 billion euros in the same period of 2012). Beef exports were worth 688 million euros, pork exports 647 million euros, and poultry meat exports 768 million euros. Fresh and processed fruit exports were worth 1.37 billion euros (up from 1.23 billion euros in the same period of 2012). Apple exports were worth 373 million euros, fruit juice (mainly apple juice) exports 446 million euros, and frozen fruit exports 318 million euros. Fresh and processed vegetables exports were worth 898 million euros (up from 819 million euros in the same period of 2012). Frozen vegetable exports totaled 186 million euros, while the main fresh vegetable exports were onions, mushrooms, cabbages, cauliflowers and carrots. Dairy product exports were worth 1.19 billion euros (up from 1.02 billion euros in the same period of 2012). Cheese exports were worth 505 million euros. Baked goods, chocolate and chocolate goods exports were worth 1.38 billion euros (up from 1.25 billion euros in the same period of 2012).

A substantial increase was recorded in rapeseed oil exports—from 92 million euros in the first three quarters of 2012 to 192 million euros in the same period of 2013; grain exports—from 289 million euros to 495 million euros; and smoked fish—from 288 million euros to 393 million euros.

Overall, Poland recorded a 4.1-billion-euro surplus in the trade of agri-food products in the first three quarters of 2013, 41 percent more than in the same period of 2012.
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