Poland is thriving with salmon, but the industry faces a problem.  “Factories may close”

Salmon exports from Poland to the European Union represent 25%. The entire volume of fish exported from our country to the European Union Common Market. This equates to approximately 195 million individual servings per year.

The Polish Society of Fish Processors (PSPR) explains that the size of the industry may be evidenced by the fact that: The two largest companies process about 70,000 tons of fish annually. Factories employ several thousand people, and in peak season this number increases even more.

However, depending on the industry, this may change. In her opinion, the reason is the decision of the European Commission, which wants to limit the so-called fortification – the only technology, in the opinion of PSPR, that allows to reconcile large-scale production and food security.

By changing regulations, the EU wants to combat listeriosis, an infectious disease caused by bacteria. However, Polish companies believe that “hardening” is completely safe.

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Stay home, hardened

– Reducing “hardening” will force adaptation to new conditions. Costs should be calculated in millions of zlotys. The proposed changes have a significant impact on the profitability of production at Polish processing plants. In the worst-case scenario, factories may close, Arleta Kramska, director of PSPR, tells money.pl.

“Hardening” is a fish processing technique. The smoked slices are frozen at -7 to -14°C, so that they can later be cut into slices. This reduces the risk of fish becoming infected with microorganisms, including bacteria.

Polish processors emphasize that this is the fundamental technology for them, thanks to which it was possible to develop production on an unprecedented scale. – Poland has become a salmon pole thanks to this technology Kramska confirms.

Fight for the leadership position

Discussions have been ongoing in the European Commission since December 2022 A change in regulations would limit “stress” to 96 hours. Currently, frozen slices can stay at the right temperature for longer than four days. This makes it easier for factories to manage the production process and delivery to stores.

– The Commission stipulates that the maximum duration of this process should not exceed 96 hours, which is also recommended in the industry guidelines drawn up by the European Salmon Smoke Association – the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) of the European Commission informs us.

He adds that keeping fish products (in this case, frozen salmon) at a temperature other than that stipulated by EU law, i.e. 18 degrees Celsius, violates EU regulations.

The practice in Poland reported in the 2020 audit report by DG SANTE is to store frozen products for up to three months at a “hardening” temperature (between -12°C and -8°C) and is therefore not compliant with the regulations. European Union – Directorate General explains to us.

Unionists will protest

The changes are being pushed by Belgium and France. According to unofficial information, the regulations are scheduled to enter into force in the first quarter of 2024. The protests in Brussels were planned by, among others, Takaful. The problem is that the new regulations, as Director General Santi informed us, “were supported by all Member States except Poland.”

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development believes that the technological process used by Polish companies is safe.

This has been proven by research carried out in the Merieux Nutrisience certified laboratory, which was presented by the Polish processing industry to the European Commission. The results showed that after 180 days of storage at a temperature of -10 to -14 degrees Celsius Listeria monocytogenes did not reproduce (Listeriosis – Editor’s note) – The Ministry informs in response to our questions.

– Companies operating in Poland will become victims of regulations that may isolate local exporters from part of the lucrative Western European market – said Jacek Podgorski, Director of the Agricultural Forum of the Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers, in an interview with Portal Spożywczy.

in addition to The industry points out that the European Commission has not proposed a transition period that would allow Polish factories to adapt to the changes.

Poland is the salmon leader

Arleta Kramska points out that if the planned regulations are implemented, they will have an extremely negative impact on the state of the industry.

Losing the leading position and reducing production may lead to a large number of layoffs in Polish factories – believes the head of the PSPR.

The industry estimates that as a result of these changes, up to 6,000 people may lose their jobs in the sector. the people.

He warns that another impact of the change in regulations could be that food is wasted because it will not be able to reach the market. Prices may also rise.

Changes in the technological process will require new investments. Its treatment costs are estimated at tens of millions of euros. Most importantly, the changing technological process will not have a positive impact on food safety or quality. It is difficult to use specific numbers at the moment, but with the current production volume, trying to maintain them will be a real challenge. Perhaps, after analyzing the profitability of these changes, the industry will not make them at all and the factories will close – says Arleta Kramska.

Our interlocutor believes that the changes will also affect employment in the fishing industry. – Reductions in fishing quotas and closure of cod fisheries have led to people working in the fishing industry losing their jobs. These people found work with wizards. Kramska asserts that the directive will hit this group again.

Piotr Bera, journalist at money.pl

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