Polish beef producers are masters in exporting high quality beef. The numbers prove that – more than 80% of beef produced in Poland is exported. According to Eurostat data in 2019 Poland exported 270 thousand tons of fresh chilled beef and more than 100 thousand tons of frozen beef, making Poland the largest frozen beef exporter in the European Union. The structure of frozen beef exports has been diversified – in 2019, 6 thousand tons were half carcasses, 19 thousand tons were parts with bones and 90 thousand tons were parts without bones and ground meat. Polish exporters offer the full range of various products. The companies specializing in cutting can import half carcasses, and the representatives of HoReCa and wholesalers can easily find other products and elements in Polish offer.
Frozen beef from Poland is not only of good quality, but also at an attractive price. Polish beef is significantly less expensive, although Polish producers meet the same standards as producers from other EU countries, like Ireland or Spain. Within the cross-compliance, each farmer, processor or butcher in the European Union is obliged to apply the same requirements, in particular in the area of the food safety. As a result, each importer is sure that the Polish beef has been produced with respect to the environment protection standards, ethical slaughter and without meat-and-bone meal in feed and without hormones or growth stimulators in cattle fattening.
Whilst meeting all safety standards at each production process stage, according to Eurostat data Polish beef in the recent years has been even 15% cheaper than beef from other European Countries. Thus, Polish producers offer the most attractive beef in terms of prices among the EU countries, while meeting all European standards at the same time.
Poland uses not only the same quality standards but also the same carcass grading system as in other EU countries – the SEUROP system. The bovine carcasses are evaluated visually based on the carcass conformation by a qualified and authorized valuator. Carcasses above 300 kg weight are subject to classification. Categories from A to E define the carcass origin according to sex. The muscle conformation and fat content is indicated with SEUROP letters, where “S” means a superior muscle conformation, and “P” poor conformation. Fat content is designated by numbers 1-5, where “1” denotes low fat content, and “5” very high fat content. In addition, each muscle conformation and fat content class is accompanied by one of the three discriminants: “+”, “no discriminant”, “-”. For example, “EE1+” means a heifer carcass with an excellent muscle conformation, low fat content and higher fat content grade. This allows to easily verify the carcass quality at each production stage.
The Polish meat sector is one of the most dynamically growing agrifood sector. More than 6 million pieces of cattle are kept in Poland. Professional breeders, clean environment and care for quality build a positive image of Polish beef producers effectively. The diversity of production methods and cattle breeds creates a wide range of possibilities for importers, processors and the HoReCa sector. It is worth emphasizing that since Poland became an EU member the cattle population has been growing steadily, increasing the beef supply both on the domestic and export markets.
Poland has both: large farms focused on production of pure bred beef cattle and ecological production. There are also farms based on the mixed breed fattening and a large number of dairy farms. In a consequence, Polish exporters provide a very diversified offer of beef in many product categories and at different prices. The most popular beef cattle breeds in Poland are Limousine, Charolaise, Hereford, Angus and Simental.
CATTLE BREEDS IN POLAND
Pure bred beef cattle herds are mostly located in the north-east and west of Poland where vicinity of lakes and rivers offers perfect areas for natural grazing. In such systems, the cattle spends part of the year outdoors, grazing freely on green pastures. A large availability of grassland, including pastures guarantees both lower production costs and higher feed quality. Grasslands stand for over 21% of agricultural area of Poland which reflects in the grazing popularity. The cattle in the grazing system is of a slower growth rate, higher resistance to diseases and better culinary meat parameters.
Beef cattle raising become so popular in Poland that the veal production in Poland is relatively low. According to the data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, veal stands for less than 0.5% of beef produced in Poland. Majority of meat comes from bulls and young bulls which that cover more than 60% of beef produced in our country. About 15% of beff originates from heifers. Currently, the average weight of the cattle carcass is over 350 kg, indicating that the beef production in Poland is based on large animals.
Polish beef sector is known for small and medium enterprises that always look after their customers and care for a high quality of the final product. The efficiency of the Polish meat sector in the times of COVID-19 is an example that a dense network of small and medium companies and short supply chains result in better meat quality, protection of the environment and make the production stable (the number of intermediaries between the farmer and the consumer is minimum or reduced to zero), allowing a full identification of meat origin down to the farm level.
For Poles, agriculture and breeding is not only a profession, but a way of life related to certain values and continuous gaining of experience. Majority of farms in Poland are family businesses in which passion and tradition, along with the land, are passed from generation to generation. In addition, more and more farms in Poland are managed by young breeders which undoubtedly is an advantage because they are usually better educated than the older generation. Family farms have a beneficial effect on the environment. Dispersed animal production allows an easy management of by-products derived during the raising of animals as family farms adapt the scale of production to the amount of land held.
Family values and multilateral cooperation are two pillars of ethical and sustainable food production in the 21st century. Honesty, passion, commitment, experience and long-term vision replace the need for a quick profit, so often seen in the corporate world. Conscious consumers can be sure that buying products from Poland they do not only choose a high-quality product but also support multigenerational farms in which passion and experience are passed from generation to generation.
List of Polish companies authorized for exporting beef to Japan can be found here