Local production has been reduced to negligible quantities, which means that Poland is now having to import lamb to satisfy a slowly growing demand. The majority of lamb is imported frozen from New Zealand, therefore there is an opportunity to supply fresh British lamb all year round due to the long lambing season in UK, more flexible supplies, and higher quality product. This is where the British Polish Chamber of Commerce (BPCC)’s team has spotted a gap in the market and begun its cooperation with the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB).
As it is truly a niche market in Poland, exports from British producers require a fully integrated marketing and sales approach. J.P. Garnier – Head of Exports at AHBD said: “We started working with the BPCC as a partner during July 2014, when they organised a successful introductory visit to the UK for Polish buyers and journalists representing both retail and food service sales channels. We followed this up later in 2014 and early 2015 with visits by British producers to Poland. BPCC arranged all the meetings, which included buyers from major chains including Tesco, Auchan, Carrefour and Biedronka (discounter and largest retailer in Poland) amongst others. The seeds had been sown in the market and trade discussions begun. Our experience in foreign markets is that it is a slow process of building relations and supporting the trade through various marketing activities over a number of years in order to build sustainable levels of frequent supply and growing volume.”
In June 2015, in order to further promote British lamb on the Polish market BPCC started working with one of the most famous celebrity chefs in Poland – Karol Okrasa. Firstly BPCC has organised a dinner for buyers and journalists where Karol Okrasa was preparing the lamb. “It was for over 30 guests and the quality of lamb dishes prepared was among the top from all events sponsored by AHDB worldwide. The dinner further cemented relations with the trade and journalists began applying pressure on sales (i.e. trade to place orders) by requesting details of lamb availability in Poland.” – said . J.P. Garnier. This activity has led to developing a further marketing strategy in order to familiarise Polish consumers with British lamb. Therefore in November 2015, BPCC organised a trip for a group of the most respected Polish chefs to see and learn about British lamb. “The group was led by Karol Okrasa and they visited sheep farms, processing facilities and a renowned cooking school where a master butcher showed the group how meat is portioned in the UK.” J.P. Garnier said .
The trip has been documented and is a stage for the next part of marketing the product. “The filming of Karol Okrasa in the UK was part of a programme for TV titled ‘Okrasa breaks the rules’. It has been running on state television for 11 years and focuses on traditional Polish cuisine. This was the first time that Karol had ventured abroad with the programme, which fitted well with the fact that lamb consumption was high in Poland in previous centuries. The programme was aired to over 4 million viewers between January and April 2016 building the awareness of quality, fresh British lamb amongst consumers under the campaign theme ‘provenance matters’.” J.P. Garnier said .
The immidate results of this excellent campaign could be seen on the shelves of one the biggest retail chains in Poland – Auchan, which has introduced lamb into their stores in May 2016. Working with distributor – Janex – made it possible to introduce British lamb into other retail chains like Leclerc, Piotr I Paweł and Frisco – one of the biggest online supermarkets in Poland as well as into the hospitality industry with one of the biggest and most prestigious hotels like Hotel Bristol now making the British lamb their reoccurring menu item.
But building the presence on the market does not stop there. BPCC together with the distributor has organized a stand during World Food Warsaw – biggest food fair in Poland where people could taste the British lamb cooked by our celebrity chef – Kevin Aston. Kevin was also present during four weekend promotion at Auchan, where the consumers could try the lamb.
J.P Graier added “From our experience exporting to countries worldwide, we estimate that over the next 4 years, the cumulative export sales of British lamb to Poland should exceed £43 million.
The hard work has been rewarded during 2016 COBCOE Trade Awards, where AHDB has won The Breakthrough Trade Award being nominated by the BPCC.