3 years ago

The Partnership no. 13

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Polish vegetable sector

Polish vegetable sector forging ahead 8 | The Partnership

Markets For decades now, Poland has produced more vegetables than it needs to feed its 38 million inhabitants. It is therefore a major exporting country. “The economy is growing and the international market offers many opportunities and challenges,” says Marketing & Sales Manager Jacek Malinowski of Enza Zaden Poland. “This is reflected by the developments in the horticultural sector, that is becoming more large-scale, modern and professional.” In addition to open-field cultivation, Poland also has a significant amount of greenhouse cultivation. This was the case even during the Communist era. Following the demise of the Iron Curtain – particularly since joining the European Union in 2004 – the export of fresh products has really taken off. “The largest export volumes used to travel east, until the mutual trade embargoes between the Union and Russia were announced in 2014,” according to Malinowski. “For a long time Russia was the main buyer of traditional products that have also been a favourite here for a long time, such as cabbages, carrots, onions, beef tomatoes and cucumbers. Since the embargo, growers and trading companies have focussed more specifically on the markets to the south and west of Poland. Of course these markets have their own preferences, so a shift in the product range occurred.” A long journey The Marketing & Sales Manager compares the development process of the Polish vegetable sector to a long, challenging journey along changing markets and consumer needs. Before Poland became a member of the EU, the agricultural sector was characterised by small-scale family businesses. Almost all activities were performed manually. This was not really a problem, because cheap labour was widely available. This all changed very quickly after 2004. “Hundreds of thousands of Polish people started looking for and found better paying jobs in the richer parts of Europe. Including in the Dutch agricultural sector, which was much larger and more modern than in our country.” The exodus had various consequences. In order to cope with the reduction in local labour supply, an influx of cheaper labour from the Ukraine gradually took place. A mechanisation wave took place simultaneously, which was associated with an expansion of scale and consolidation. “This modernisation was stimulated with European development funds. Without that assistance, it would have been a much more time-consuming and difficult process. Both for the primary sector and for the processing and trade. This allowed many sorting, packaging and cooling facilities to be developed in a relatively short space of time, something which the Polish vegetable chain was urgently in need of.” The Partnership | 9

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