Mission to Poland
Coming to Independent Processor magazine: Editor Sam Gazdziak writes about his media tour of the Polish meat industry.
It was around the year 1900 that my great-grandparents left Poland to find their way in the New World. They joined thousands of Europeans who came to the United States around the turn of the 20th Century. I never thought that I would ever have the chance to go back to the land of my ancestors. However, In November 2018, just such an opportunity presented itself, and I traveled to Warsaw in order to learn about the European meat industry.
I was invited to Poland by the Union of Producers and Employers of Meat Industry. UPEMI is a professional organization that promotes the quality of European beef and pork. The professional organization is headquartered in Poland and, in one of its projects, supports companies in Europe looking for opportunities to export meat to North America.The purpose of this trip was to bring together media and food industry experts from the United States and Canada and processors from Poland.
As one of the media representatives from the United States, my job was to deliver a talk about consumer trends in the United States. My audience was made up of processors from Poland who produced a wide range of products. Some were already exporting to the United States and others were interested in learning more about potential markets. After a crash-course in PowerPoint presentation assembly, I made a three-flight, day-long trek across the Atlantic Ocean to talk to European producers about the latest in American meat trends.
During my presentation, I discussed the issues of transparency, label attributes, convenience and premium meat items, to name a few things that interest consumers here. Most of the attendees spoke English better than I do, but for those who only spoke Polish, the entire seminar was translated in real time through interpreters and headsets. The same was done for the North Americans when it came time for the Polish meat industry officials to give their presentations. It was a technological first for me, and much appreciated.
Following the seminar, we journalists were able to speak with several of the attendees. Though our conversations were short, I was impressed with the types of products that these companies made. There were processors who made beef and pork cuts as well as further-processed items like jarred sausages, vitamin-infused sausages, child-friendly meat snacks. There were ideas I haven’t seen on store shelves here before, and I do hope that some of these products make their way to American retailers someday soon.
In the days following the seminar, we traveled to northern Poland to visit a couple of meat plants. You’ll read more about them in the February and April issues of Independent Processor, but for now, I’ll say that I was extremely impressed at the levels of efficiency, cleanliness and traceability that European plants have. The quality of their products was outstanding, too.
Keep reading for more information about my Poland trip, and for now, enjoy some of the photos I took in Warsaw.