“Credibility, innovation and professionalism are the values that we continue to implement as our advantages” – Poland PSR before the next step into the future
Apr. 12, 2021
Poland is the largest agricultural country in Central and Eastern Europe and is one of the main agricultural export markets of the European Union (EU). In recent years, the country’s rapid economic growth has driven the agricultural and agricultural inputs markets into a favorable period of development. In 2020 the value of Poland’s crop protection distribution market was over EUR650 million, an increase of 6% compared to the previous season.
Polskie Sklady Rolne (PSR) is a leading provider of agricultural inputs in Poland, with its turnover in 2020 being in the top 5 in the market. The company is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. In this article, AgroPages had invited Tomasz Trzmielewski, CEO and vice president of the management board at PSR for an exclusive interview, to introduce the latest developments in Polish agriculture, the policy impacts of the local agrochemical market, and how PSR has met various challenges in this market and is ushering in the next ten years of development.
CEO and vice president of the management board at PSR
AgroPages: Please introduce PSR’s company structure and development. This year marks the tenth anniversary of PSR, what are the company achievements?
Trzmielewski: Building a strong position in the Polish agricultural supply market by pursuing a common purchasing policy and implementing an integrated marketing strategy, these are the main objectives of Polish agricultural warehouses.
Pursuant to the notarial deed from June 6, 2011, three companies, which are Agrosięć sp.z o.o., Agrochest sp.z o.o. and Adler Agro sp.z o.o., established Polskie Składy Rolne sp.z o.o., and soon afterwards, Agro-As also joined the group.
Cooperation brings tangible benefits in the form of better coordination for producers, more efficient and flexible logistics, and a coherent advertising and marketing strategy. However, farmers benefit the most because they are provided with professional services and receive the highest quality products.
Every farmer will find us a stable partner with whom they can plan the sustainable development of their farms. Due to our extensive offers and advice, entrepreneurs cooperating with us can engage smaller funds in their production and achieve a rapid increase in yields and profitability of crops. Comprehensive offerings to PSR members include the highest quality products for agricultural service.
Last year, we ranked fourth or fifth in terms of turnover in Poland. Due to their combined work on Polish territory, our members enabled us to provide services and sales throughout the country, through a branch network with its own warehouses. To ensure the quality and comfort of our partners, we also direct sales via our specialist sales representatives. Our team of sales experts and technical advisers currently consists of almost 200 people in the field, with the group’s members covering the key agricultural production areas of the country, whether in terms of cereals, rape, corn or sugar beet.
Our offerings include full agricultural support, from the sowing to the harvesting of crops. As well as world-class agricultural equipment enabling effective, rational and economic agrotechnics, along with harvesting and selling agricultural crops, we are also sellers of excellent quality seeds of selected varieties that are distinguished by their high yield potential and resistance, benefitting major domestic and foreign growers. We also offer plant protection products and fertilizers from leading producers that are necessary for every farm. We organize the year-round purchase of cereals and oilseeds, ensuring attractive prices and payment terms. We guarantee an individual approach to providing support and realizing the development to our customers.
AgroPages: What is PSR's business model? What are the main competitive advantages of PSR within the industry?
Trzmielewski: Our structure, modeled on the best standards, allows us to fully meet the needs of our customers. Our range of operation, variety of offers, flexibility, versatility from fertilization to harvest, backed by a full range of available agricultural equipment, distinguishes us and our solutions in Poland’s competitive agricultural market.
Our activities in Poland include not only sales but also consulting in the field of comprehensive agriculture services. Thanks to this, our partners can rely on individual solutions to the current problems facing the agricultural production process. We conduct extensive research and development on the areas we serve to improve the production process, both chemical treatments and the technique of soil cultivation, using the latest solutions in the field of agricultural technology, fertilization and plant protection. Our experiences support the sales process and the development of offers for our clients, but above all, they enable us to better understand their needs.
PSR's presence in Poland
AgroPages: Agricultural land conditions in Poland are not good. In order to improve agricultural production efficiency, what products or technologies do you provide to help farmers, and what crops are you mainly targeting?
Trzmielewski: It does not seem that bad. According to the latest data from the Central Statistical Office (Central Statistical Office), the total number of farms in 2020 amounted to some 1.317 million. Compared to 2010, this number decreased by approximately 190,000 or nearly 13%.
We are dealing with the deepening of certain important trends. We are also observing the increasing specialization of farms and a progressive concentration of agricultural production, such as both an increasing number of farms and a declining number of farms within a similar arable land area.
Preliminary results show that the total sown farming area in 2020 amounted to over 10.707 million hectares (ha), with the area being higher by some 340,000 ha compared to 2010. Regarding sown crops, total cereals are still the dominant crop, accounting for around 70% of cultivated area, amounting to approximately 7.3 million ha.
Therefore, PSR is always present where agricultural production is located. Production farms are mainly located in northern (Agrosięć), western (Agrochest), southern (AgroAs) and eastern (Adler) Poland. Such an arrangement of shareholders enables us to cover the entire country through the scope of our cooperation. Therefore, our main focus is the production of grains, including wheat, triticale, barley and rye, along with winter oilseed rape, corn and sugar beets. These are our main goals and development directives in terms of selection of appropriate varieties, technology, protection, harvesting and fertilization.
AgroPages: What are the changes to the structure of Polish agricultural planting? Currently, what is the biggest challenge facing the country’s agricultural development?
Trzmielewski: The recent years in Poland have been a favorable period for the development of the agricultural sector. High prices of agricultural produce and good crops may increase planned investments. The agriculture and handling industries are coping well with the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our advisors are equipped with the best equipment and the right tools, to help our customers in the rational use of the potential yield of crops. Distribution around the country is undergoing consolidation, and the bigger the better. This is already visible in the segment of agricultural machinery and equipment. Example are the leading suppliers of machinery, plant protection products, fertilizers and seeds. Current consolidation is becoming a reality.
AgroPages: The development of organic agriculture in Poland is progressing rapidly. What types of changes have been brought about by this trend in terms of the application of plant protection products by Polish farmers?
Trzmielewski: According to the EU’s directive, the "Green Deal" is slowly becoming a determinant trend. However, in Poland, there is still a dominant model of using traditional protection products based on synthetic active substances. This trend will probably change, which is why we, as an organization, must be ready. Currently, we are conducting ongoing research and testing new biological protection products. We know that soon, without alternative sources of protection, it will be difficult to cope with the development of agriculture, especially in EU countries.
AgroPages: Currently, what is scale and structure of the Polish crop protection distribution market? We can see that international distribution markets are undergoing some consolidation. Is this also happening in the Polish market?
Trzmielewski: Data for the last period of 2020 highlight the growing dynamics of sales and consumption of plant protection products. Last year, it was over EUR650 million, an increase of 6% compared to the previous season. Sales of plant protection products in Poland are done mainly through the national distribution network (5-6) and regional distribution (20-25). In addition, we have many entities that sell locally in shops. Therefore, in summary, producers sell for distribution, both to shops and, mainly, directly to farms.
As previously mentioned, the total number of farms in 2020 amounted to approximately 1.317 million. Compared to the GUS in 2010, this is a decrease of about 190,000 or nearly 13%.
The observed decrease in the number of farms and a slight decrease in the area of agricultural land were reflected in an increase in the average agricultural area (UAA) per 1 farm by some 13%, from 9.8 ha in 2010 to 11.1 ha in 2020. On the other hand, production farms with an area of over 300 ha, of which there are several thousand in the country, should also be presented. The potential of agricultural production in Poland is still considerable. We are the fourth largest country in the EU in terms of area.
This is how global consolidations are noticeable. Producers go through these stages faster than individual countries and their structures. However, these are stages that we also have to go through. Therefore, the response to this situation is the creation of PSR. We believe that we now have a structure to meet the challenges of 2021 and following years.
AgroPages: With the tightening of EU regulations on chemical components, including its restriction policy and the reduction of MRLs, how have Polish agricultural planting and exports been affected? How does PSR respond to this trend?
Trzmielewski: As I mentioned earlier, this is an important issue and is now a priority. However, looking more broadly, we do not yet fully know the financial situation after the introduction of the Green Deal. Talks are continuing in Brussels. In order to make up for the losses incurred by farmers, we realize that this should be followed by additional support for this segment. So, it is difficult at this time to talk clearly about the situation. But we are working within many expert committees to create the best solutions for Polish farmers. The Green Deal, or the EU's “Farm to Fork Strategy,” which limits the use of chemicals in the EU while opening up to products from outside the EU zone, is undoubtedly a new challenge for the agricultural sector. If this reduces the use of pesticides by 50%, what it will mean in practice? New situations create new opportunities. As a philosopher said, “The only constant thing in life is change.” This is why we are already looking for safe solutions for our clients. Biodiversity, modernity and digitization in a broad sense, these are the areas where we are looking for solutions. I believe that farmers, like us, should also react proactively for the upcoming changes.
Some of our activities have already led to the implementation of modern solutions for farmers, and they have been very well received.
AgroPages: PSR offers a large number of products from multinational companies. What is PSR’s future product development strategy?
Trzmielewski: Yes, currently, our main suppliers are international companies, but we also have domestic producers of plant protection chemicals in our portfolio. However, the current dynamic situation allows us to choose from these suppliers’ products dedicated only to us, enabling us to even better deliver our solutions to our customers. On the other hand, we are more determined to develop our own solutions. We are now looking for partners among the best producers of plant protection products from around the world. Based on reference products and national registrations, we aim to enrich our offerings to our customers, who are farmers in Poland.
AgroPages: What is PSR's development plan for the next ten years?
Trzmielewski: The future is for someone tomorrow, but for me personally, it is a few years forward. We should be ahead of the competition and discover the unexplored. The more so as the train is running.
Today, I have a vision for the PSR Group to have a trademark with the letter “Q.” New products in the field of technology, machinery, plant protection, fertilization and seed production are our key activities for 2021. I hope that with the support of all PSR members, we will soon discover new ones.
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