The potential for development of Polish beef

The production of beef is an important sector of Polish and EU agriculture being of great importance for the food economy of the country. Poland has favorable natural conditions for cattle rearing and the potential to increase the production.

The development of this agricultural sector in Poland is supported by the possibility of using natural feedstuffs: grass, hay, silage from meadows and pastures, grain meals and fodder crops, as well as the growing demand for Polish beef, especially on the part of the EU countries. The increase in the cattle population in Poland is stimulated by the increased global demand for beef.

In June 2021 (according to the Statistics Poland data), the total national cattle population was 6.4 million head, by 0.9% more than the year before. The increase has been recorded in the case of calves (by 3.5%) and young cattle aged 1–2 years (by 3.3%), while the population of cattle older than 2 decreased by 2.2%. Since the accession of Poland to the EU in 2004, the herd structure has changed. The share of cows decreased (by 15 pp.), with the increased share of young cattle below 2 years of age (by 12 pp.) and of calves (by 4 pp.), which indicates a growing interest in the meat type of rearing.

vleeskoe op de weide
Beeld: ©Murawska

Production of Polish live cattle

In Poland, the production of live cattle is concentrated mainly in the Central Eastern region of the country, i.e. in the Mazowieckie Voivodeship (18.6%), Wielkopolskie and Podlaskie Voivodeships (16.5% each), where 52% of the national cattle population is kept in total. In 2020 (based on the Eurostat data), Poland was the sixth producer of beef in the EU – after France (with the production of 1.4 million tonnes), Germany (1.1 million tonnes), Italy and Spain (0.7 million tonnes each) and Ireland (0.6 million tonnes) The increase in the cattle population and the stable conditions of rearing are reflected in the developing production of beef in the country and the increasingly better quality of the meat obtained. Over the last five years, Poland produced 500- 570 thousand tonnes of beef a year. This was almost twice as much as in the year of accession (2004) of Poland to the EU when the production was at the level of 310-320 thousand tonnes.

Export of beef from Poland

In recent years, 84-94% of the domestic production of beef has been exported. Poland is the third, after Ireland and Spain, largest exporter of beef outside the customs territory of the European Union. However, the majority (84%) of the volume of the beef product range exported from Poland was sold to the EU countries, mostly to Italy and Germany. In the period of ten months of 2021, 406 thousand tonnes of live cattle, meat and beef and veal products (in carcass equivalent) were exported from Poland, by 1.5% less than the year before. Revenues from the export of beef products amounted to more than EUR 1.4 billion (PLN 6.6 billion) and were by 11% higher than in the same period of 2020.

The domestic export of the beef and veal product range was dominated by meat (share of 90%), which was exported in the quantity of 317 thousand tonnes (in product weight), by 2% less than in the same period of 2020. Customers of beef were mainly the EU-27 countries (share of 84% in the volume), inter alia: Italy (share of 20%, 63 thousand tonnes), Germany (18%, 57 thousand tonnes), the Netherlands (9%, 28 thousand tonnes), Spain and France (6% each, 19 thousand tonnes each), and as for the non-EU countries – the United Kingdom (6%, 20 thousand tonnes), Israel (3%, 10 thousand tonnes) and Japan (3%, 8 thousand tonnes).

beef production in Poland
Beeld: ©Polish food

Import of beef into Poland

When compared to the export volume, the import of beef and veal products is small. From January to October 2021, 39 thousand tonnes of the beef and veal product range (in carcass equivalent) were imported to Poland, for EUR 141 million (PLN 642 million), respectively, by 7% and 17% more than the year before. In the import volume, about 50% was meat, and about 40% – live cattle. The surplus in foreign trade in beef and veal products from January to October 2021 amounted to 367 thousand tonnes, by 1% less than the year before, and in value terms – EUR 1.3 billion, by 10% more.

export destinations of Polish beef
Beeld: ©Polish food

Consumption of beef in Poland

Although Poland is a major producer and exporter of beef in the EU, the level of consumption of beef in Poland is still much lower than the average consumption in the European Union. This results from the high level of prices of beef when compared to other popular types of meat. According to the Statistics Poland data, in 2020 the average resident of Poland consumed 2.5 kg of beef when compared to 2.7 kg in 2019. At the same time, the consumption of beef in the EU in 2020 amounted to slightly more than 10 kg per capita. It should be expected that the gradual improvement in the level of income of the population in Poland and the growing population of beef cattle breeds combined with the efforts of breeders and geneticists to obtain meat characterised by the increasingly better culinary qualities will support the growth in the domestic consumption of beef in the coming years.

Prices of cattle in the EU and Polish markets

In 2021, both in the EU market and in Poland, the rise in the average purchase prices of slaughter cattle is recorded, which results from the increased demand for the beef product range, especially after the resumption of activities by catering establishments, with the limited supply from production. At the same time, in Poland, the growth rate of prices of beef was faster than the average growth rate in the EU, which resulted in the decreasing price competitiveness of Polish beef in the EU market. In November 2021, the price of live cattle in Poland expressed in EU currency exceeded the average price in the EU by 4.4% and amounted to EUR 440.16/100 kg, while in the same period of 2020 the price of cattle of this class in Poland was by about 13.5% lower than the average price in the EU. In October 2021 (according to the Statistics Poland data), domestic suppliers obtained for cattle in total (excluding calves), on average, PLN 8.64/kg, and for young cattle PLN 8.84/kg. In both cases, the level of prices was by about 7% higher than in September and by 34% higher than the year before.

Source: Polish food