Poland has the potential to become Denmark’s next organic export adventure

Poland has the potential to become Denmark’s next organic export adventure News
Dennis Hvam, Peter Rasmussen and Anne Stine Jørck visited the wholesaler EcoWital, which distributes approximately 2,500 organic products.
Poland has the potential to become Denmark’s next organic export adventure

In Poland, organics are making their way into mainstream retail, opening new opportunities for Danish food producers, says Dennis Hvam, International Marketing Manager at Organic Denmark, after a visit to Warsaw.

Poland is Europe’s 11th largest country by area and 9th largest by population. It is also one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies. However, when it comes to organic products, the Central European republic doesn’t currently hold much weight.

That might change, according to Dennis Hvam, International Market Manager at Organic Denmark. In November, he spent two busy days in Warsaw, where he and two colleagues from Organic Denmark went on the road to promote Danish organic produce to Polish supermarket chains and wholesalers. It was a good experience for the Danish trio, who were received with open arms everywhere they went.

“Poland surprised us. Even though Poles only spend an average of only around DKK 60 a year on organic products, we can see potential for Poland to develop into an interesting market for organic food,” says Dennis Hvam, who dreams of kickstarting a new export adventure in Poland with Danish food producers.

Organics to go mainstream

“The Poles know that we’re strong in the organic area, and they were very interested to hear about how Denmark has become one of the world’s leading organic nations,” says Dennis Hvam after returning from the Polish capital, which, with 1.7 million inhabitants, is slightly larger than Copenhagen.

When it comes to organics, there’s no doubt that the Danish capital remains the big brother, with a significantly larger range and sales of organic products in retail chains and the food service industry.

But Dennis Hvam is convinced that Poland is on the rise, basing his positive market expectations on several factors pointing towards a surge in organics. The Polish economy is seeing rapid growth, with an annual increase in sales of organic foods of around 10% in recent years. And organic products are moving from specialty stores and online sales channels to the many physical retail stores across the country.

“This means that many more people will be exposed to organic products in the future, and I think this trend will further boost Poland’s organic sales,” says the international marketing manager. For this reason, he expects to encounter several Polish buyers when he mans the Danish collective stand at the international organic fair Biofach in Nuremberg in mid-February.

“Just bring the goods”

“We spent much of our trip to Poland talking about the ‘Danish model’ and the many innovation awards Danish producers have received in recent years,” says Dennis Hvam, who noticed during visits to Polish stores that Poland already imports several organic products from Denmark, including snack products from RawBite and juice ‘shots’ from Bangs. He hopes and believes these products will soon be joined by many more Danish organic products.

This hope was reinforced during the visit to Poland:

“Just bring the goods, I have shelf space available,” was the message from Michael Kapica, director of Smak Natury. The company has a range of 6,000 organic products and operates three organic flagship stores in Warsaw. The director expects to open more stores in the coming years, both in Warsaw and in other major cities across the country.

Platform with a million regular customers

During their stay in Poland, the trio also visited Organic Market/24, Poland’s second-largest distributor of organic products, operating Poland’s largest online platform with a range of 2,500 organic products. Dennis Hvam describes the company as Poland’s organic equivalent of the Danish online platform Nemlig.com.

Established in 2006, the company now has over a million regular customers, supplying organic food stores throughout Poland with products, half of which are delivered by the wholesaler EcoWital. This seems like a promising target for Danish exports.

“Everyone we visited was very professional and had great confidence in the positive development of organics and Poland’s economy,” he says.

Pickled products, fruit and veg

Another potential trading partner for Danish food producers is Bio Planet, which operates the organic brands Bio Planet, Biominki and NaturaVena. The company is Poland’s largest distributor of organic food, supplying goods to 800 specialty stores and 2,500 of Poland’s largest retail stores.

Dennis Hvam also visited Carrefour Bio, one of several organic flagship stores in the Polish capital. However, they all have a relatively narrow range of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, which indicates a potential opening for Danish producers, he believes.

“The Poles are also very fond of pickled and fermented products, including kombucha, and we received a specific request for skyr,” he adds.

During their stay in Warsaw, the Danish guests were interviewed by the magazine Wiadomości Handlowe, which is distributed to managers and directors in Polish retail.

“It’s an excellent place to brand Danish organics and the ‘Danish model,’ which includes government control ensuring high credibility,” says Dennis Hvam.

Not everyone knows about organics

While 98% of Danes are familiar with the Danish organic label, Dennis Hvam noticed during his visit to Poland that awareness of organics isn’t quite at the same level among the Polish population. To penetrate the Polish market, he believes it’s a good idea to communicate the benefits of organics on the packaging.

“Many Poles are not familiar with organics, so in that sense, it’s still a very immature market. For example, the magazine’s staff were very surprised to hear about the high pesticide residues in conventional fruits and vegetables,” he mentions as an example of factual knowledge that might not necessarily be widespread in Poland.

Poles also look at prices

As in Denmark at the moment, prices play a big role in what ends up in Polish shopping baskets. However, according to Dennis Hvam, Poles are accustomed to paying slightly more for organic products, which are often considered premium items. The prices are often close to Danish prices.

“Now we need to continue working with these new contacts and engage with Polish chains and wholesalers, while also selling Poland to Danish food producers,” says Dennis Hvam.

He mentions the Warsaw Bio Expo on 3-5 October as a good starting point for food producers dreaming of exporting to Poland.

He points out that Organic Denmark is considering organising a ‘matchmaking trip’ to Poland in 2024, where Danish producers will have the opportunity to meet potential customers.

Another option is to participate in the Danish collective stand at Biofach in February, where there are still a few available spots.

International Trade Fair for Organic Food and Products (bioexpo.pl)