Exploring tastes of Poland

Tuesday, 23 January, 2024 Food From Poland 42/2024
Polish food is a vibrant fusion of hearty flavours, centuries-old traditions, and innovative approach in line with world’s newest trends. The result is a remarkable variety of food products that captivate international markets.
Polish food sector produces many original and unique products from natural ingredients, with attention paid to preserving nutritional and taste values, while meeting the highest safety and quality standards of the European Union. Polish processing plants also produce ‚halal’ certified products. In effect Poland is one of the largest European producers and exporters of high-quality food. As trade statistics indicate an upward trend, the potential for Polish food products on international markets remains promising, inviting consumers worldwide to taste the rich offer of Poland’s delicacies.

With its huge and modern production and processing base, Poland is a net exporter of food. The value of agri-food exports has increased more than nine-fold since Poland joined the European Union in 2004. In 2022 it amounted to a record EUR 47.9 billion, an increase by EUR 10 billion YoY. Further export growth is recorded in 2023. During the three quarters of 2023, agri-food products worth EUR 38.7 million were exported from Poland, 11% higher YoY. Food from Poland is mostly exported to the European Union countries, but Polish exporters are systematically increasing their presence also on global markets.  In 2022  Polish agri-food products have reached consumers in 196 countries on all continents.

Among the wide range of Polish export offer, meat and meat products stand out, ranking first in the structure of Polish agri-food exports. In 2022 Poland exported meat, meat products and livestock worth EUR 9.7 billion. High quality of Polish meat production is ensured by well-developed quality control methods and domestic quality systems such as Quality Assurance for Food Products (QAFP), Pork Quality System (PQS), Quality Meat Program (QMP, for beef) and ‘Jakość Tradycja’ System (Quality, Tradition). Many types of Polish meat products are recognised as the EU ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ or ‘Traditional Speciality Guaranteed’.

Poland is among world leaders in the production and export of poultry meat and the first producer and exporter of this meat in the EU. The production of poultry meat in Poland fluctuates between 2.6 and 2.8 million tonnes per year. Apart from chickens Poland offers also turkeys, ducks and geese. The export hit is the Polish White Kołuda (Biała Kołudzka®) Goose, which accounts for more than 90% of the country’s goose population and is highly appreciated for the high quality of its meat. Poland is also an important exporter of fresh, chilled and frozen beef (sixth EU producer and second exporter in the EU). The production approximates to 0.6 million tonnes of beef annually, of which around 90% is exported. Also in the case of pork, Poland occupies a high position compared to other EU countries, being the fourth producer (with an annual production of 1.7-1.9 million tonnes) and the sixth exporter of this meat.

Cereal grains and grain milled products are one of Poland’s main export commodities. Poland is one of EU leaders in grain production, with particular focus on corn and wheat. Cereal grains are most often cultivated on family farms which combine tradition and modernity. Natural and healthy Polish grain milled products are competitive on international markets. They include bakery products, flours and breakfast cereals, bran, groats, pasta and other products. In 2022, exports of cereal grains and their products increased by 40% to a value of EUR 6.6 billion. The three quarters of 2023 saw a further increase in Polish exports in this category – amounting to EUR 5.7 billion, 20% higher YoY. Exports of cereal grains were dominated by wheat. Wheat export volumes in the first three quarters of 2023 totalled 5.5 million tonnes, more than twice as much as in the corresponding period of 2022.

Polish dairy industry is one of most modern in Europe. Polish milk is mainly acquired from the pristine regions located in Poland’s north and east. The strict observance of EU hygiene and veterinary standards results in supreme milk quality. The majority of milk processors in Poland are dairy cooperatives, who acquire their raw material straight from Polish farmers. Poland’s dairy offer includes cheeses and curds, liquid milk and cream, concentrated milk and skimmed milk powder, ice-cream, whey, butter and milk fats as well as yoghurts, acidified milk and other fresh dairy products. Poland holds a strong position in the EU when it comes to milk, ranking third in its production and fourth in its exports. In 2022, the export value of Polish dairy products reached EUR 3.6 billion. In the three quarters of 2023, the value of Poland’s dairy exports amounted to EUR 2.6 billion (8% less YoY).

Excellent Polish sweets stand out among Poland’s export hits. Poland is third exporter of sweets in the EU. This category includes a very wide range of products, such as chocolates, candies, marshmallows, bars, meringues, candyfloss, fudges and toffee, chocolate drops, fruit and nuts in chocolate, boxes of chocolates, chocolate candies and many others. Poland’s sweets export offer ranges from traditional Polish delicacies to modern, innovative confectionery products created in response to changing consumer needs and preferences (including healthy snacks, products with sugar substitutes, gluten-free, organic, vegan, etc.). In 2022, Poland exported sugar and sweets worth EUR 3.2 billion. In the period January-September 2023, the value of confectionery exports reached EUR 2.3 billion, which was 13% higher YoY.

Poland’s flagship export product is fruit, and particularly apples. Polish people’s love for this fruit made Poland the country with the largest orchard area in Europe and a yearly production over 4 million tonnes. That is why Poland is the largest producer of apples in the EU, fourth largest producer in the world and third largest world exporter (in terms of export volume). Polish apples are considerably crunchy and have a unique, deep flavour resulting from climate. Thanks to technological progress in storage and transport, Polish exporters are able to provide large and uniform deliveries of apples to the furthest parts of the world. Poland’s exports also include processed fruit and vegetables, including frozen foods, jams, pulps, preserves, sauces and ketchups, dried and freeze-dried products, and powdered products. Poland is a significant producer of apple juice and concentrate as well as other fruit and vegetable juices and beverages. In 2022, the value of Poland’s fruit and processed fruit exports amounted to EUR 1.8 billion. In January-September 2023, the value of Poland’s exports of these products amounted to EUR 1.4 billion, 2% higher YoY.

Nevertheless, Polish export potential is much greater than the trade performance recorded so far. Poland generates significant production surpluses for almost all staples. Therefore, Polish exporters seek new opportunities for trade cooperation with the countries where potential for further expansion may be explored. 

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