The years 2004-2017 was a period of steady growth with an improvement in the results of foreign trade in agri-food products (see Fig. 2). Positive changes had already been visible in the year of accession, when the Polish trade in agri-food products was almost 30% higher than in 2003. Due to the sustained increase in value of both exports and imports, trade also increased in the following years. In 2017, the total value of Poland’s trade in agri-food products exceeded EUR 46.2 billion, of which exports reached the level of EUR 27.3 billion, while imports accounted for EUR 18.9 billion. Compared with 2004, this shows that trade has increased more than 4.5 times, whereas exports alone grew by more than five times, and the increase in imports was more than fourfold. Since Poland’s accession into the EU, the positive balance of trade exchange in agri-food products has increased as well. In 2017, the value of the trade balance was nearly EUR 8.4 billion, ten times higher in relation to 2004. For comparison, the cumulated growth rate of the GDP expressed in constant prices amounted to approx. 156% in the same period . Therefore, the export growth rate and of the balance of foreign trade in agri-food products significantly exceeds the GDP growth rate, confirming the pro-export nature of development in this economic sector in Poland.
Fig. 1. The share of agri-food products in Polish foreign trade (%)
Source: Study based on unpublished data of the Ministry of Finance (MF).
Fig. 2. Foreign trade in Polish agri-food products (in EUR billion)
Source: Own study based on unpublished data of the MF.Geographic structure of exports of agri-food products
The year 2017 saw an increase in exports of agri-food products in most country groupings. However, the EU-15 countries have remained Poland’s most important trade partner in the trade exchange of agri-food products. Their share in Polish agri-food exports, compared with 2016, rose to 62.6%, i.e. by 2.3 pp (EUR 17.1 billion). The share of exports in the EU-13 countries dropped by 2.1 pp, i.e. to 18.9% (EUR 5.1 billion). On the other hand, the share of exports in CIS countries was maintained at a level from 2016, amounting to 4.8% (EUR 1.3 billion) – see Fig. 3.
For many years, the most important recipient of agri-food products from Poland has been Germany. In 2017, its share in Polish agri-food exports reached 23.7%, higher by 1.1 pp than the year before. The value of exports of these products rose to EUR 6.5 billion, i.e. by 18%. The largest receipts were achieved on the sales of: fish and fish preparations, including mainly smoked fish (15% of the value of Polish exports to Germany), tobacco products (7.2%), poultry meat and offal (7%), bakery and confectionery products, including biscuits and wafers (6.2%), as well as chocolate and chocolate products (4.5%) – see Fig. 4.
The second major outlet for Polish agri-food products in 2017, with an approx. 9% share in total Polish agri-food exports, was the United Kingdom where we sold agri-food products worth approx. EUR 2.4 billion (a growth by 12%). The main Polish goods purchased by the British included: meat preparations, including sausages, preserved meat, hams and other products (11% of export value), chocolate and chocolate products (11%), poultry meat and offal (10%), tobacco products (9%), as well as bakery and confectionery products (6.5%).
Outrunning the Czech Republic, the Netherlands shifted to the third position (a 6.2% share in Polish agri-food exports); receipts from sales in that direction in 2017 amounted to EUR 1.7 billion, higher by 24% than the year before. The commodity structure of exports to the Netherlands was dominated by: tobacco products (17.7% of the value of exports), poultry meat and offal (8.7%), beef (5.2%), chocolate products (5.1%), birds’ eggs in shell (4.4%), fruit juices (4.2%) and whey (3.8%).
The fourth largest recipient of Polish agri-food products in 2017 was Italy where exports grew by 14% to EUR 1.5 billion. The Italians mainly purchased the following from Poland: beef (19.4% of the value of exports), tobacco products (18.2%), pork (6.5%), pastry goods (4.8%), dried fish (4.6%), as well as cheese and curd (4.6%).
The next, fifth position (a drop from the third place in 2016) was occupied by the Czech Republic which reduced its purchases of agri-food products from Poland by 12% to EUR 1.4 billion in 2017. The main products exported to the Czech Republic included: poultry meat and offal (9.7%), tobacco products (9.6%), pastry goods (6.9%), cheese and curd (5.6%), pork (5.3%), food preparations (4.0%), rapeseed oil (3.5%), and chocolate products (3.4%).
The receipts from the export of agri-food products from Poland to non-EU countries in 2017 amounted to EUR 5.0 billion, higher by 12.4% than the year before. The highest increase was recorded in exports to the NAFTA countries (up by nearly 40%).
Fig. 3. The geographic structure of Polish exports in agri-food products in 2017*
Fig. 4. The main recipients of Polish agri-food products in 2017*
Source: Own study based on unpublished data of the MF.Commodity structure of exports of agri-food products
The commodity structure of Polish exports of agri-food products is dominated by products of plant origin. Their share in the value of agri-food exports in 2017 amounted to 53.9%, lower by 2.6 pp than the year before. The largest share in this commodity group comprised tobacco products (almost 11%), followed by sugar, confectionery and chocolate products (almost 9%), as well as cereals and cereal preparations (nearly 8%). The share of products of animal origin in Poland’s agri-food exports in 2017 grew to 39.2% (i.e. by 1.6 pp). The main item in the export structure of animal products remained meat and meat preparations (21% of the value of agri-food exports). Dairy products were also of great importance (7.6%) as well as fish and fish preparations (7.3%).
Data of the Central Statistical Office (GUS): https://stat.gov.pl/wskazniki-makroekonomiczne/ (accessed on 30 October 2017).
* preliminary data