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Polish Beef Exports Threaten Ireland

09 November 2009

POLAND - Cecilia Ruiz, Manager of Bord Bia in Madrid, looks at Polish beef and cattle exports competing against Ireland for the Spanish markets.

It has been recently suggested that in terms of beef exports, Poland had many of the characteristics of Irish beef on the Spanish market in the early days – a good, albeit basic, product and reliable in terms of volume and price competitive. These are positive attributes in a time of economic crisis and could challenge other import suppliers in a number of EU markets.

Poland joined the EU in 2004, boasting approximately the same number of farmers as the entire EU put together and, according to the online farming magazine farminguk.com, 15 billion euro in grants and subsidies helped to transform the farming sector in Poland. As a result, the country has made a strong drive to implement EU standards. 

Polish beef production has experienced constant growth, reaching 386,000 tonnes in 2008 compared with 298,000 tonnes in 2004. Exports have recorded greater growth, increasing almost two fold over the period to reach 197,700 tonnes pw last year. In the first seven months of 2009, exports jumped by more than a quarter to 147,000 tonnes pw.

The main export destinations for Polish beef in 2008 were as follows:


Exports of both beef and live cattle to Spain have increased strongly since their accession to the EU in 2004. Beef exports now exceed 8,000 tonnes while live cattle exports over the last two years have averaged 85,000 head.

According to 2008 Spanish official import figures, imports from Ireland and Poland were at broadly similar levels. Trade data from GTIS for the first seven months of 2009 show that Spanish imports from Poland reached almost 10,000 tonnes compared with 6,000 tonnes from Ireland.

These developments highlight the need for Irish beef to pursue its strategy of differentiation and premiumisation in key Spanish markets in order to offset the competitive threat from emerging suppliers such as Poland.

Polish Cattle Exports to Spain
Year Total (tonnes pw)
2004 318,348
2005 96,828
2006 148,395
2007 100,446
2008 69,871
Polish Beef Exports to Spain
Year Total (tonnes pw)
2004 118
2005 621
2006 6,556
2007 12,201
2008 8,050

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