Grzegorz Rykaczewski, agri-food sector analyst at Santander Bank Polska, set out the macroeconomic picture, showing the importance of the UK market for Polish produce. It remains the second-largest export destination for Polish food products after Germany – despite a fall to fourth place for overall exports. This also suggests strong potential for future growth of trade in this sector.
Transit guarantees for goods travelling to Britain and Ireland were covered by Huseyn Masmaliyev, trade facilitation manager at SGS, who explained the timetable of new border controls being introduced by the British government and the new documents that would come into force on 1 October, 1 January and 1 March 2022.
Logistics are a major headache in the UK food supply chain at the moment, with the social media full of pictures of empty supermarket shelves. Getting food from Poland to the UK is a matter of a long-term relationship with a suitably large logistics partner, said Antoni Zbytniewski and Justyna Dobraś from Raben Group. Less-than-full truckloads – individual pallets – had the greatest difficulty getting through; should one load from another exporter get held up at the border, every other load on that truck is also held up, through no fault of the firm sending it.
Polish celebrity chef Damian Wawrzyniak, who runs the Times Top 40 restaurant House of Feasts, talked about the practical aspects of food logistics, in particular the process of obtaining veterinary certificates in Poland for food products destined for the UK. Mr Wawrzyniak also explained how he had to reorganise his business during the lockdown to deliver meals from his kitchens to customers, including 900 traditional Polish Christmas suppers. His story shows the determination inherent in Polish entrepreneurs, which could be an important factor in winning market share in turbulent economic times.
Robert Fedorowicz from Santander Trade explained how a network created by 13 banking groups from around the world helps importers and exporters around the world identify trustworthy trade partners. The Santander Trade Club also helps with trade finance and other issues connected with import and exports. Above all, it has a massive database of verified trade partners who are continually looking to buy or to sell across borders.
After the presentations, there was time for a Q&A session with the panellists, giving participants the chance to have their questions answered by experts.