(Editor’s note: Independent Processor editor Sam Gazdziak spent several days in Poland late last year for a seminar about North American consumer trends and export regulations. Following the seminar, several processors spoke with him and Food in Canada editor Andrew Joseph to talk about their operations. Following are profiles on those companies.)
Where many Polish processors prefer red, Firma Marchinkowscy sees green. The pork processor’s logo and packaging are a green hue, which has become its signature look on store shelves.
“Green represents the environment and sustainability and farm freshness,” explains Izabela Baccari, export manager. It represents the fact that the company’s fresh pork products start at the farm and is, she adds, “a way to connect with nature.”
Located in central Poland in the town of Krzywiń, Firma Marchinkowscy supplies its pork products throughout Poland and exports throughout Europe, as well as Africa and North America. The company started in 2000 by Zbiegniew and Bogdan Marcinkowski and has in recent years improved its slaughter line and its cutting operations. It employs about 240 people, including the processing and office workers.
The company works with the same local pig farms to ensure a high level of quality in the product. Baccari says that some of the company’s most popular products include pork shoulder, pork loin and boneless ham.
In addition to its processing facility and slaughterhouse, the company also has a cold storage warehouse that can hold 28,000 pallets. Along with its own pork products, Firma Marchinkowscy can store other products for its customers, such as beef, fish or vegetables, until they are needed.
“We even do the same for our competitors. We all know each other. It’s better to have some connection with every other company,” Baccari explains.
The company’s second generation of family leadership is involved in the business. Anna Piasecka, sales manager, says that the meat business has always been a part of her life.
“I was always hearing about it at home, so it’s something that became part of my natural routine for me. It was obvious (to me) to continue this,” she says. “I know all about the effort my dad put into this business, and for him it was very important. He continues to keep an eye to make sure everything is working well.”
Children’s snacks in the United States tend to fall into the category of unhealthy products that taste good or healthy products that don’t taste good. Polish processor Zbyszko has found a way to combine the two: sausages with added vitamins, creating a good-for-you snack that kids will want to eat.
The sausages — parówki in Poland — come in two different packages, explains Piotr Wieloch, director of sales & marketing.
“One label is connected directly with children. Every piece of sausage inside the packaging is a superhero. It’s a strong new market developing in Poland,” he explains. “That label is connected strongly with children and play and fun, and the second label is the same product that is connected with the fit market. Someone after training can buy the one piece of the sausage with increased vitamins.”
The sausages have increased levels of calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C and Vitamin D, to name a few. One package of five sausages is the equivalent of 38 percent of the recommended daily content, Wieloch says.
The consumer buying patterns in Poland are starting to change, reflecting trends from North America and Europe. After the fall of Communism, consumers would buy large portions of meat and slice it into portions in their house. They were not used to having meat in the previous era, so quantity was more important than quality.
“Now we see that the young population, the Millennials, start developing another kind of products in Poland. It’s [further processed], with very good packaging, nice design. Everything must be organic in the packaging. We see the tendency is strongly coming from the rest of Europe, from England, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway. Everything is coming to Poland,” he explains.
Zbyszko specializes in beef slaughter, pork processing and beef and poultry cold cuts. Much of the beef slaughter is tied to the company’s export business. Pork and poultry are more commonly eaten by Polish consumers than beef, though that trend may be changing. Wieloch says that reality shows are popular there, and they affect trends. When dancing shows were popular, people started dancing more. When fashion shows were popular, people headed to clothing stores. Now, cooking shows are popular, and people are starting to experiment more with beef.
“What people are looking at and learning about on television, they put into their life. So we have to think about how to connect the tendency in the market with the interest of the people,” he says.
Zaklady Miesne Łuków S.A.
For more than 40 years, Łuków Meat Company has been producing a wide variety of fresh cuts, tinned meats, jarred meat and cold cuts. Its products are distributed around the world; in the U.S. its jars can be found in many Polish delis.
“We export everywhere. Our production plant has many approvals, so we do Asia, Africa, USA, and of course Europe,” explains Ewa Rak, export manager. The company has exhibited its products in SIAL shows in Canada, China and France, as well as international shows like the Fancy Food Show, Gulfood and Anuga.
Łuków Meat Co. operates a slaughterhouse, deboning plant and sausage and canning operations. Some of its most popular products include a dried sausage called krakowska and its tinned meat.
“The recipe is more than 40 years old,” Rak says of the canned product. “It was popular in Poland when the farmers were working outside. You just open it and eat it with some bread.”
She adds that the traditional products are popular among the younger consumers as well. “The newer generation is looking for newer tastes, but they haven’t stopped eating traditional products,” she says.
When it comes to exports, the company can produce a variety of products, so it relies on its foreign partners to inform them about local trends. Those partners will frequently send samples and packaging samples.
“They are our eyes in the market,” Rak says.
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