Home » Country info » Poland » Country report » 2010

Country Report Poland 2010

This text was compiled by FiBL and originally published in the FiBL/SIPPO handbook "The Organic Market in Europe."

Update: Organic farming in Poland 2013


The organic agriculture movement started in the 1980s due to growing ecological public awareness. Early seminars given by Polish scientists and experts from western European countries led to the establishment of the first organic farmers association in 1989, called Ekoland. This year was also around the time when the first organic products were offered in Warsaw shops (Metera 2005). The association became a full member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in 1990. In 1993, a second sector body, the Polish Society of Organic Farming (PTRE) was established. In 2010, seven Polish organisations were members of IFOAM.

After May 1, 2004, when Poland joined the European Union and agri-environmental programmes came into force, interest for converting to organic farming increased. In 2004, the EU logo started to be used and supplemented the existing organic private Ekoland label. The EU organic logo helped Polish consumers distinguish organic food on the market and encouraged more processors and traders to become involved. A national campaign to promote organic food was launched in 2006 and the next campaign is currently being prepared.

To top

Milestones in the history of organic farming in Poland

  • 1931-1941: Pioneer Stanisław Karłowski was running a biodynamic farm (1760 hectares) in Silesia.
  • 1960: A three-hectare farm starts farming with biodynamic methods.
  • 1981: First lecture by Julian Osetek on the idea of biodynamic agriculture in Warsaw Agricultural University (SGGW). As a consequence, organic farming became of interest to scientists. In the following years more courses within the following years were given in cooperation with the German organic farming movement.
  • 1989. September 1: Establishment of the first organic farmers' association "Ekoland", first certification scheme with private standards. Later an organic logo was established.
  • 1990: Ekoland becomes a full member of IFOAM;
  • 1993: The PTRE association of organic farming is established.
  • 1993, May: The inspection bodies AgroBioTest and Bioekspert separate from Ekoland.
  • 1998: Financial support to control costs for farmers established.
  • 1999: Area-based payments (not agri-environmental program) introduced.
  • 2001: First law on organic farming established, introducing national standards of organic farming (due to many dissimilarities between this law and the EU regulation, Poland is not included in the list of third countries).
  • 2002: Rebuilding of the certification system.
  • 2004: EU enlargement and Poland becomes a member of the EU, new law on organic farming comes into force, new payments under the Rural Development Plan are introduced, appointment of public institutions to carry out the administration issues related to organic farming (PCA, IJHARS, IUNG, IOR, PIORiN)-
  • 2005: New standards of Ekoland.
  • 2005: Establishment of the association Demeter Poland, starting with the certification according to Demeter standards. 
  • 2006: Poland is the country of the year at BioFach in Nurnberg.
  • 2006: Launch of a three-year national promotion campaign for organic farming.
  • 2007: Redesign of the payments in Rural Development Plan was introduced;
  • 2009: New law on organic farming implementing EU regulations 834/2007 and 889/2008.

Source: Szeremeta, Andrzej (no date given in document): Project DOVE: Organic farming in Poland. The Naturland website www.naturland.de. Available at http://www.naturland.de/fileadmin/MDB/documents/Forum___Dokumentenablage/Information_OrganicAgriculture_Poland.pdf

To top

Production base

In 2009, over 367,000 hectares of agricultural land were managed organically. This constituted 2.28 percent of the country’s total agricultural land. Compared with 2008, this was an increase of 16 percent, and since 2000, organic land (22,000 hectares) increased more than tenfold. Poland has thus one of the fastest growth rates of organic land in Europe. Around 60 percent of organically managed land was fully converted. There were nearly 17,423 producers and 277 processors in 2009 (Eurostat 2010).

Of the agricultural land, 45 percent is permanent grassland (170,000 hectares), arable crops account for 37 percent (140,000 hectares) and permanent crops for 16 percent (64,000 hectares) of the organic agricultural land. The share of permanent crops is relatively high due to the fact that it has been possible to apply for grants of up to nearly 600 euros per hectare for walnut plantations, many of which are, however, not productive (Kreuzer 2010).

The key crop groups are cereals (77,000 hectares), followed by green fodder from arable land and unspecified permanent crops (which probably include the unproductive walnut plantations), nuts and then berries and temperate fruits (Eurostat 2010).

To top

Government support

Since 2002, Poland subsidized the cost of inspection associated with organic farming based on farm size. In 2006, government allocated the equivalent of roughly two million euros to organic farming, about half of which was allocated to certifying organizations to cover their inspection related costs. The remaining money was spent on research in organic farming and on promotion and extension (Porter 2006). Furthermore, there was a government campaign that started in 2006.

Since Poland joined the European Union in May 2004, Polish organic farmers have received a per hectare subsidy for organic farming under the European Union’s rural development programmes, but the Polish government already began granting area based payments as early as 1999.

To top

The market

The market share of certified organic food products in the domestic market is still very small. In 2006, the turnover of organic products was 50 million euros and the market share 0.14 percent of the total food market. The annual per capita spending was 1.30 euros. It is expected that by the end of 2010, the market will be at 140 million euros with a share of 0.33 and an annual per capital spending of 3.70 euros (Vaclavik and Szeremeta 2008). However, market data have not been available for the years after 2006.

An important initiative for the development of the Polish domestic market is the Organic Marketing Forum in Warsaw, which took place for the 5th time in 2010. Its aim is to support closer cooperation in the enlarged European Union and the creation of domestic organic markets in Central and Eastern Europe through a professional meeting of entrepreneurs.

Together with direct sales, health food and natural food shops developed as the first organised retail structure and both are still the most important channels for sales of organic food. In recent years, some supermarkets have started to offer a limited range of selected products in organic quality; these are, however, mainly imported from Germany, Italy and France. As a result, most organic food is often very expensive and hence only available for higher income consumers. There are, however, a few shops in Poland offering inexpensive local organic food. A major challenge is to establish logistical networks for cutting distribution costs and for product range extension (Vaclavik and Szeremeta 2008).

To top

In 2008, the best sold organic products were cereal products and seeds, followed by juices, vegetable preserves and by fresh vegetables and fruits. It is expected that there will be an increase in the domestic product range due to the increasing number of processors and better organisation of the supply chain. Fresh products will become more widely available and the sales of
organic fresh production will increase. The production of regional organic products is also expected to increase in importance (Va- clavik and Szeremeta 2008).

Processing, wholesale and retail are not well structured and devel- oped at the moment, resulting in a low number of points of sales, higher prices and lack of some product types like fresh food, dairy and animal products. Due to the small domestic product range, sales of imported products, particularly processed products, are popular among retailers (Vaclavik and Szeremeta 2008).

Health aspects and taste remain the main reasons for buying organic food among consumers. Up to the middle of the 2000s, health food shops were perceived by Polish consumers as an alternative source for buying special and dietary food. Recently, wealthier consumers who consciously look for high quality prod- ucts have become customers of specialised shops.

Due to increased ecological awareness, it is expected that more customers will buy organic food. Currently, the main barriers to development and the main reasons for the small demand are consumer related: the low consumer awareness about organic food, the lack of trust in quality and control of organic food and the low income. Additionally, poor quality and lack of information on organic food quality and of sales points hamper consumer purchas- ing. A major challenge is therefore to create a consumer base that has awareness for the advantages of organic food (Vaclavik and Szeremeta 2008).

Exports of organic products from Poland are not significant. A few exporters sell fruits for processing (frozen black and red currants, strawberries, wild fruits, canned cucumbers and cereal coffee). Lack of organisation of small farms is one of the biggest barriers to the development of the export sector (Metera 2005). More and more Polish processors produce organic products for foreign brands as subcontractors. Export of processed food under Polish brands is very limited.

Import and market requirement

The organic market is not well developed, partly due to the low number of processors and the low range of processed products available, resulting in a number of organic imported products being offered. Thirty percent of organic products consumed in the country are estimated to be imported. The most relevant imported products are cereal products, juices and oils. The key countries of origin are Germany, Italy and France (Vaclavik and Szeremeta 2008). In some cases, Polish processors import some organic raw materials when there are problems with domestic supply due to either a lack of availability, the product being out of season, or, on occasion, due to high prices.

To top

Market access provisions

Market access for organic products is regulated by EU regulation 834/2007 on organic farming. The following additional provisions apply in Poland: The inspections laid down by the EU Regulation on Organic Production are conducted by 11 private inspection bodies. There are no private logos or standards which have to be taken into consideration for gaining access to the Polish market.

Poland imports very little products from third countries. The import of organic products is regulated by the EU Regulation on Organic Production. Applications for import permits for organic products have to be issued by the importing company to Agricultural and Food Quality Inspection (Główny Inspektorat Jakozci Handlowej Artykułów Rolno-Spozywczych), see www.ijhars.gov.pl. It must be taken into consideration that administrative procedures for import authorizations can take a long time.

To top


To top

SIPPO & FiBL 2011: The Organic Market in Europe