Not only has Poland a chance to cope with the food crisis but also to increase the level of meat exports, said Lech Kołakowski, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, during a conference of the Association of Butchers and Cured Meat Producers. Despite the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the Polish meat industry achieved record results in the first quarter of this year.
As part of the 100th anniversary of its establishment, the Association of Polish Butchers and Cured Meat Producers organised a conference in Warsaw devoted to the current situation of the meat industry in Poland. It is the oldest and largest organisation currently associated with nearly 200 enterprises in the meat industry. The association aims to support the development and protect the interests of the affiliated entities, from involvement in legal and legislative activities to promoting Polish meat in the international arena.
The result of such actions can be for example the agreement with the Ukrainian authorities in 2008 on the export of Polish meat without duty for two days and the consequent sale of 100,000 tons of meat. According to information provided by Piotr Ziemann, Vice President of the Association of Butchers and Cured Meat Producers, Polish entrepreneurs in the meat industry earned about one billion zlotys during those two days.
As Lech Kołakowski, Deputy Minister of Agriculture stressed, the Ministry of Agriculture must rebuild the pig breeding market by limiting pork imports and shortening the supply chain from breeders to consumers. According to him, the prices of fuel, fertilisers and thus agricultural costs in Poland should fall in the coming months. However, Poland is ready not only to ensure food security for its inhabitants but also to support other countries affected by the crisis.
Paweł Niemczuk, Chief Veterinary Officer, discussing the epidemiological status of livestock in Poland, reminded that the pork and poultry market has been facing huge problems related to the ASF virus and avian influenza for several years. Currently, however, the situation seems to have stabilised. No outbreaks of ASF have been detected among pig farmers since December last year, while the H5N1 virus has in fact been confined to one region in the west of the country. This situation is significant both for Polish exports and offers prospects of opening new sales markets.
Conference participants pointed out that it is impossible to provide real support for Polish meat entrepreneurs without ensuring them legal protection in their cooperation with contractors. On the part of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK), actions are taken to counteract unfair competition practices, especially concerning large retail chains. Protection of the Office is not limited only to consumers, but also covers Polish entrepreneurs in the entire supply chain process. The effects of these actions can be seen in the form of fines imposed even on the largest retail chains in Poland.
It was pointed out that supporting the production of Polish meat should not be limited only to legislative action, but also requires a change in consumer awareness. For the entire meat industry in Poland, consumer patriotism consisting of conscious choice of Polish products is extremely important. More and more food has a label with the country of its origin, so it is worth supporting Polish producers.
“There is no doubt about the safety of Polish food, as well as its quality,” Agnieszka Sudoł, Deputy Chief Inspector of the Commercial Quality of Agricultural and Food Products (GIJHARS), has stressed.
Not only in European markets but also Asian or African ones, Polish meat is considered a premium product. Local consumers play an important role in the functioning of agriculture, both economically and environmentally. Representatives of the meat industry said that limiting the range of transport of food products not only reduces their costs but also has a measurable impact on the environment. The issue of minimising the carbon footprint generated by road transport cannot be ignored. By choosing Polish products we not only support Polish producers, but also the environment.