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Milk Takes the World by Storm
May 7, 2015   
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Polish milk and dairy products are increasingly appreciated for their quality in many countries around the world.

Poland is currently the No. 4 milk producer in the European Union, after Germany, France and Britain. According to Polish Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Marek Sawicki, Poland has a chance to advance to third place in Europe in the next two years. On April 1, the European Union scrapped milk production quotas after more than 30 years. Sawicki says the abolition of the milk quotas means that Poland will have to face internal competition within the EU, but on the other hand, this offers an opportunity for greater competitiveness of EU milk on international markets.

Experts say milk and dairy products have high nutritional value and are a source of nutrients such as protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D—all of which are indispensable for the development of the human body, including bones and teeth.

Milk and dairy products have long been a Polish specialty. After Poland joined the EU the Polish dairy industry faced a new challenge: the need to be competitive on markets abroad not only on price but also in terms of quality. To meet this challenge, producers had to focus above all on the quality of milk, because good dairy products require quality milk. Many producers embraced innovation, including new products and practical and attractive packaging. They also had to undertake various commercial and marketing efforts to promote their products among customers. As a result, the Polish dairy industry has undergone a process of modernization and today it is one of the most modern in Europe.

The focus on quality quickly produced results. Polish milk and dairy products hit the spot not only with local consumers, but also abroad. Exports of dairy products, particularly liquid milk and cream, have increased substantially since 2004. These products were not exported to the European Union earlier, but since 2005 they have accounted for 15 percent of the total revenue from dairy product exports. Also rapidly growing are exports of cheese, powdered milk, yogurt, butter and ice cream. According to the Agricultural Market Agency (ARR), the value of Poland’s dairy product exports rose by 11 percent last year to 1.8 billion euros, while their volume (in raw milk terms) increased by more than 25 percent.

Cheese and curd account for the largest proportions of Polish dairy product exports. In 2014, a total of 205,000 metric tons of cheese and curd was exported from Poland. Mainly ripening cheeses were exported. Since 2004 anywhere from 30 to 48 percent of the domestic output of these cheeses has been exported every year. In 2014, ripening cheese exports from Poland totaled 142,000 tons. They were mainly destined for other EU countries, chiefly the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Italy and Hungary.

Despite the embargo imposed by Russia on a range of Polish products, milk and dairy producers in Poland are not giving up and seeking new export markets. Experts say one promising market is China. Poland could export there far more dairy products than it used to export to Russia. But to achieve such a high level of exports, Poland needs to continually promote its products on the Chinese market for at least three to four years, according to experts. The Chinese market is still little known among Polish producers, though it is viewed as an interesting destination with huge potential. Dairy products are increasingly popular with consumers in China, especially hard cheese.

Another promising export destination is North Africa. One example is Algeria, where dairy products account for more than 60 of Poland’s total food exports. Poland exports foodstuffs such as powdered milk, but also cheese, yogurts and curd to that country. Polish powdered milk has also attracted interest in other North African countries such as Tunisia and Libya as well as Asian markets including Iran.
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