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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » December 13, 2015
Polska... tastes good!
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Food Exports Continue to Grow
December 13, 2015   
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Polish food is still popular on foreign markets. Despite a Russian embargo, the value of Polish food exports is expected to set a record by the end of this year.

Recent estimates by agri-food market analysts from Bank Zachodni WBK show that Polish agri-food sector exports this year may grow by 5-6.5 percent compared with 2014 to 23.3 billion euros. Previous projections suggested this could be nearly 25 billion euros, but in the second half of the year the growth of sales on foreign markets decelerated slightly due to slower growth in grain exports.

Assuming that grain, fruit and vegetable crops this year are close to their average level in the last five years, Bank Zachodni WBK analysts expect Poland’s 2016 agri-food exports to increase by anywhere from 2 to 6 percent. In 2016, the fastest growth should be recorded for poultry, confectionery goods and candy. Sales of dairy products abroad are also expected to improve. Meanwhile, due to this year’s drought, vegetable and fruit exports are expected to be smaller in 2016 than in previous years.

According to Poland’s Finance Ministry, the value of Polish agri-food product exports in the first three quarters of this year totaled 17.3 billion euros, marking an increase of 7.6 percent over the first three quarters of last year. Agri-food products accounted for 13.2 percent of Poland’s total exports in the first three quarters of this year. In the breakdown of Poland’s agri-food export markets, the share of EU countries increased to 81.9 percent, from 79.5 in the first three quarters of 2014. Exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States totaled 812 million euros, falling by 39 percent from the first three quarters of last year.

This was mainly the result of an embargo imposed by Russia in 2014 on many key agri-food products imported from Poland, including meat, dairy products and fruit and vegetables. “In addition, as a result of cases of African swine fever (ASF) in wild boar in Poland, a drop was also noted in sales of pork to some markets to the east of Poland; apart from Russia these included Belarus and Kazakhstan,” says a report by the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

As in previous years, the most agri-food products were sold to Germany, which accounted for 21.9 percent of the total value of Polish agri-food exports. In value terms, exports to the German market were dominated by poultry meat, smoked fish (especially salmon), rapeseed, bakery products (including biscuits and wafers), processed and canned fish, chocolate and cocoa-containing products, wheat, raw milk and cream, frozen fruit (mainly strawberries and raspberries), fruit juices (mainly apple juice), beef, fish fillets, and cigarettes.

Britain was the second-largest export market for Polish agri-food products; it primarily bought chocolate and cocoa-containing products, poultry meat, processed and salted meat, and wafers and biscuits. The Czech Republic was in third place, absorbing mainly rapeseed oil, coffee, poultry, cigarettes and bakery products (including biscuits and wafers). Further down the list among the largest export markets for Polish agri-food products were France, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Hungary. Russia, which until the previous year was in fifth place among the largest buyers of Polish food, dropped to 15th place in this ranking in the first three quarters of this year as a result of the continued import embargo on Polish agri-food products. The value of Polish agri-food product shipments to that country declined by 62 percent.

In addition to the European Union, Polish food is shipped further afield. In the period from January to September this year, the value of exports on 130 of these markets exceeded 100,000 euros.

Exports are growing particularly fast to the Middle and Far East as well as Africa. Among Poland’s most important non-European markets, the greatest increase in Polish exports in value terms, compared with the first three quarters of the previous year, was recorded in the case of Egypt. This was chiefly due to significant wheat exports. Large shipments of wheat also contributed to a significant increase in Polish exports to markets such as Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania. Increased exports of apple juice and pork contributed to a 40-percent increase in the value of exports to Canada, while greater exports of apple juice and chocolate and cocoa-containing products contributed to a 39-percent increase in the value of sales to the United States.

A significant increase in shipments of Polish agri-food products was also seen in Vietnam, Israel, Croatia, Serbia, Greece, Ireland and Belgium. From January to September this year these exports chiefly included poultry meat, cigarettes, chocolate and foodstuffs containing cocoa, bakery products (biscuits, waffles, etc.), wheat, beef, pork, sugar syrups, smoked fish (especially salmon), cheese and curd, other processed and preserved meat, coffee, fruit juices (mainly apple juice) and frozen fruit.

The upbeat agri-food export statistics are attributable to the taste and quality of Polish products, but also the fact that Poland continues to produce at low cost, which is particularly important at a time of economic slowdown. This, however, would not be possible without efforts to modernize production facilities. In recent years, billions of zlotys have been invested in processing plants, with the greatest investment boom visible in plants producing meat, poultry, milk and fish. Today the Polish agri-food sector is one of the most modern in the world, and Polish agri-food products are of high quality. The proportion of unprocessed farm produce in exports is decreasing while the share of highly processed products is growing, testifying to the development of Poland’s food processing industry.
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