Fish Market

The fish industry is considered as one of the fastest developing branches of the food sector in Poland. Fish processing is a fundamental component of the fish industry (just after the fishing) and plays an important role for the appreciation and commercialisation of the natural resources of the sea.

The processing subsector comprises the initial processing (the separation of the edible parts of the raw material) and the actual processing (highly processed food products) – the production of tinned goods, preserves, pickled fish, salads, pastes etc. The size of an industrial plant plays a decisive role, since the assortment is to a large extent dependent on it. Small plant produce mainly salted and smoked fish, which requires lower quality standards and relatively small financial investments. Only big plants with appropriate investment means are in a position to manufacture highly processed fish products, which require advanced processes and complex technological lines.
In Poland there are fish plant all over the country, although most of them are located in the coastal region (62% of the plants are in voivodships of West Pomerania and Pomerania), where they have easy and fast access to the raw material. The production in these two voivodships represents 75% of the total value of the national production in this sector. Further inland a significant concentration of fish processing plants can be observed in the voivodship of Silesia, a region in which there is traditionally a high demand for processed fish products.

The structure of the fish processing sector is exceptionally scattered. Over 80% of around 300 companies are small and middle-size processing plants. Only about 60 companies employ more than 50 people and only 2% of the companies have over 250 employees and more than half of them possess foreign capital. The data published in 2001 by the Main Veterinarian Inspectorate show, that 95% are private companies (a number of 340).

The process of adapting the fish processing plants to the requirements of the European Union is in course. From over 323 fish processing plants registered with the Main Veterinarian Inspectorate at the end of 2004, 167 (51,7 %) plant were authorized to deal in fish and fish products in the whole of the EU, whereas 56 plants have till the year 2006 to conform to the Union norms and about 100 plants, mostly small local plants have not taken appropriate measures and are in danger of liquidation. The data of the Main Veterinarian Inspectorate from 24th May 2005 on the other hand show, that 297 companies in the register were already authorized to deal in fish, of which 182 processing plants are authorized to deal in fish products in the whole of the EU. 42 plants are in the transition period (until the end of 2006).
Most of the fish processing plants authorized to trade on the market of the EU are located in the coastal region, 59 in the voivodship of Pomerania and 48 in West Pomerania. In the remaining part of the country most plants of this type were in the voivodship of Warmia and Mazury - 17, of Great Poland - 11 and of Kujavia and Pomerania - 9.

Since Poland became a member of the Eruopean Union, the interest of foreign companies in Polish products has increased. This is to be explained by the fact that their prices are still lower than those from other countries of the EU and that there is no difference in terms of quality. In view of the lower production costs, foreign companies are equally interested to commission Polish plants with the maunfacturing of their products.
Due to the above changes and the simultaneous adaptation of the Polish plants to the Union hygiene and sanitary norms, the export of Polish fish and processed fish products has increased.

In 2004 the export value of fish and its processed products increased by almost 31% compared to the previous year. 75% of the products went to old member countries.
Thanks to the significant export increase, the higher prices and the concentration processes the financial condition of the fish industry improved considerably. As a result the sales value in processing plants with at least 50 employees rose by about 25 % .
The increase in the export to foreign markets favourably influenced the development of the fish processing industry in 2004.
The financial result has remained positive for two years, although a sudden improvement was observed already in the months preceding the accession (1st half of 2004). The net profitability decidedly increased and amounted to over 4% of the sales value for the year 2004.

Last year the total size of the final production of processed fish products increased by over 5%. This contributed in turn to a considerable increase in the import of raw material. Worth mentioning is also, that the value of the final production of consumer goods is 13% higher than in the previous year. This is due above all to an increase in the production of processed goods that are mainly destined for export, that is of smoked and tinned fish.
In 2003, after the drastic decline since the end of the 90s, the processing companies knew a distinctive revival of investment activity. And in 2004 the level of investment expenditures for the purchase of assets was the highest in the last five years. The revival was a result of the adaptation of the plants to the sanitary and veterinary requirements of the EU. An additional incentive for the investment activity of fish processing companies was the possibility to benefit from the support programs of the European Union.