Overview of Polish agrifood sector after first months in Covid-time
The value of the Polish agrifood export, which is mostly to other EU countries, will drop with 8% this year due to lockdown measures in other countries.
The Corona crisis showed the vulnerability for possible disruptions in the agri food chains. A positive note for Poland could be that more agrifood companies want to shorten their chain and will move production back into to the EU. Poland is the most likely candidate for this, due to lower production costs than western Europe but high developed industrial, logistical and IT sectors.
Food security was maintained in Poland during the crisis, as the production is high and surpluses the national needs. However, agri-food markets dependent on export requested state aid. These were mainly beef (with veal) and poultry, as well as potato processing companies, where a large share is exported to HoReCa sector in Europe and worldwide. Also the dairy sector was affected with broken long-distance supply chains and dropping world market prices. Presently, after lifting the lockdown restritions in Poland and other countries, as stated by the industries, the situation is slightly improving.
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Polish horticultural sector seemed to recover after the dramatic low sales in March. Polish producers of cut flowers were hit the most, as the majority of sales starts in March and it dropped with 95% this year. Export from the Netherlands to Poland (6th export destination), dropped with 25% in the same month. Producers who are dealing only with this kind production (bulbs for cut flowers) noted significant losses of profit and might even change the profile of their activities to f.e. vegetable growing. On the other hand all nurseries are having the best season since years as the majority of Poles decided to stay at home and are interested in ornamental plants for their gardens and balconies. These developments will change the export market for the Dutch companies in the coming time. The vegetable growers started the production already after the lockdown and hardly felt the difference compared to previous years.
Where the Netherlands was experiencing problems with labor from Poland, in Poland there was a lack of labor due to Ukrainians going back to their home country. With supporting measures from the government (extension of visa, paying for Corona tests, possibility to undergo quarantine on the field) the agrisector seems to have mostly managed. Especially the soft fruit growers had few difficult days worrying for labor especially to pick up strawberries (are the first to harvest) but luckily the weather cooled down and gave them few days delay what allowed to gather more employees from Ukraine to pick up the fruits.
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Shopping behaviour and e-commerce
Also the changes in consumers’ shopping habits are expected to be continued. Visits in the shops are not so frequent and shorter, but food is purchased in bigger quantities, consumers choose brands that they know and trust. E-grocery is still developing even after lifting the restrictions, 47% of us choose online shopping more often than before, which is a chance for new areas and sales channels. Polish consumers care about healthy diet and healthy food products and despite the fact that 75% of Poles admit that they have recently reduced spending, it does not concern food shopping.