Last Friday Allan Barber attended a seminar, officially named a Congress, presented by a Polish delegation which was in New Zealand as part of a series of five exhibition events to promote ‘the taste of quality and tradition directly from Europe.’ A somewhat bizarre coincidence meant the event took place at exactly the same time as the votes were being counted in the British referendum which culminated in the decision to leave the EU, he writes.
The Auckland congress was the third in a series of five being held in different countries targeted for export development for Polish pork and beef products; the other target countries being South Africa, Singapore, Taiwan and Kazakhstan. This one was timed specifically to coincide with the Fine Food New Zealand 2016 held over the weekend at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds at which Polish frozen and refrigerated pork and beef products were available for tasting and evaluation by potential importers.
At the conclusion of the Congress, attendees were invited to lunch, prepared from Polish pork and beef products by the Langham Hotel; this was very tasty, although apart from the large display of Polish sausage, it wasn’t clearly stated that the rest of the product actually came from Poland.
After a welcome speech from the Polish Ambassador which included a summary of the trading relationship between Poland and New Zealand, the managing director of the Union of Producers and Employers of the Meat Industry (UPEMI) covered the Polish meat industry in more detail. However the main point of the presentations appeared to be to emphasise the high standards of EU production and food hygiene standards with which by definition and regulation Poland must comply.
There was also an interesting address by the EU economic and trade adviser to New Zealand based in Wellington. He underlined the very close relationship between EU and Ministry for Primary Industries trade and biosecurity representatives which has led to bilateral access agreements for the respective agricultural produce and food industries.
Although it was presented as a European exhibition and congress, underpinned by EU standards, this was clearly a concerted and expensive promotion to boost Polish exports of food products, especially pork which constitutes Poland’s largest meat production by a country mile. Although Polish imports into New Zealand represent a higher share of the two countries’ bilateral trade, Polish products are mostly of machinery such as aircraft engine turbines. Following the greater freedom for imports of pork products into New Zealand, there is an opportunity for an EU member country like Poland to increase sales and distribution from what is currently a very low base.
At a time when New Zealand is seeking a free trade agreement with the EU as currently the world’s largest trade bloc, especially when EU membership will be reduced by Britain’s defection, an increase in bilateral trade with Poland will be to the benefit of both countries.
Allan Barber is a meat industry commentator., He can be contacted at email@example.com.