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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » June 3, 2014
Polska…tastes good!
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Polish Food in Asia
June 3, 2014   
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Poland is stepping up its food exports to Asian markets, especially Japan, Vietnam and China. Polish food is increasingly popular in these countries—and not only because it is offered at a competitive price. The main thing going for it is the use of modern processing technology and quality ingredients as well as original recipes highly valued on international markets.

Asian markets are increasingly opening up to Polish businesses and exporters. According to Poland’s Agricultural Market Agency (ARR), the trade of food with China has grown growing rapidly since 2009. But Poland still has a deficit in this trade, which means that it is buying more food from China than it sells in that country. Last year, Poland shipped 158 million euros worth of food products to China and imported 278 million euros worth of goods. Meat and meat products accounted for 67 percent of total exports, and dairy products accounted for 18 percent. Meat sales are growing the most. In 2013, exports were worth 106 million euros, up from 39 million euros the year before.

Owing to growing pork exports, Poland’s balance of trade with Japan has clearly improved. Recent years have also seen a rise in Polish food exports to Vietnam (last year they were up 66 percent on 2011), due to increased sales of fish fillets and milk as well as powdered whey.

Polish chicken feet are also conquering the Far East. In Poland, poultry feet are out of favor with consumers. Until recently, they were treated as waste, and, like chicken heads, thrown in the trash. Currently, chicken feet from Poland are welcome on Asian tables, and exports have been growing rapidly. The main buyer is Hong Kong, from where Polish chicken feet reach markets in China and other countries in the region.

According to experts, now is the right time to step up exports to the Asian market, because there is a fashion for European products there. In Japan, European foodstuffs are considered to be a premium product. That is why Polish producers should not just focus on competing in terms of price alone but should also highlight the quality and specific features of products from Poland.

According to experts, China is the most attractive and promising market for Polish producers—not only because of its size but also because China attaches great importance to food safety these days. And Polish products are known for the fact that they are healthy and free from genetic modification. Chinese consumers are increasingly health-conscious and have increasingly fatter wallets, as a result of which they are eager to reach for new dishes. Chinese people are also traveling more these days and making new culinary discoveries—a trend that benefits Polish producers.

So far, 69 dairies, eight meat processing plants, six poultry processing plants, and three cold stores in Poland have been authorized to export their produce to China.

Polish fruit growers, especially apple farmers, are also interested in China and other markets in Asia. Apples are an export that Poland specializes in. Even though China is the world’s biggest producer of this fruit, Polish apples are in demand there.

Polish producers of cakes, sweet pastries, ice cream and vodka are also interested in Asian markets.

A recent visit by Marek Sawicki, the Polish minister of agriculture and rural development, to China helped promote Polish food in Asia. Sawicki visited the Sial China 2014 show in Shanghai and took part in the opening of the Polish national stand there. The stand, mounted by the Agricultural Market Agency, aimed to help more than 40 companies and trade organizations from the Polish food sector increase their presence in China.

An important objective of Sawicki’s visit to China was a meeting with the Chinese deputy agriculture minister and officials from a Chinese institution responsible for veterinary inspections. The meeting focused on topics including the resumption of Polish pork exports to China after these were suspended due to the incidence of two cases of African swine fever (ASF) in wild boar near the Polish-Belarusian border. Sawicki tried to persuade the Chinese to start buying Polish pork again beginning in July.
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