Polish raw milk vending machine manufacturer Konrad Pszowski came to our attention through comments he posted on the Bovine. We thought, as a maker of raw milk automats, he could fill us in a little on the under-reported raw milk scene in Europe. So we contacted him. He wrote back, and we sent him some questions. And now we are pleased to present his answers in the form of this exclusive interview:
The Bovine: When I was in Poland in 2007, one could drive along the highway from Warsaw to Bialystock and see people milking cows into buckets out in the field. Also one would sometimes pass horse-drawn hay wagons on the smaller roads. Is there a strong feeling among Poles that smalll farming is something that should be encouraged, that it’s here to stay and not on the way out like it is in so many other parts of the world?
Konrad: I think that we can divide Polish farmers on three groups. First group are big farmers with lot of land, farm animals. They are focused on big production and earning money. I think they are very similar to other big farmers in any country in Europe. Big machines, newest technology, newest chemistry, big efficiency, big money.
Second group are farmers which decide on organic/ ecological farming. Some of them additionally decided on agro tourist as an additional source of money. You can go there and spend some days manually milking cows, horseback riding. You will mainly eat there products produced on those farms.
Third group of farmers are mainly old people which doesn’t want to change their way of live. They haven’t got agricultural machines. They’ve got very less land, animals. Time stops there 50 Years ago. That’s why You can still see people people milking cows into buckets out in the field and horse-drawn hay wagons on the smaller roads.
The Bovine: Tell me a bit about your business with raw milk dispensing machines.
Konrad: Our company produce raw milk vending machine. Our machines are dedicated for this product in all aspects: milk dispenser, empty bottles dispenser etc. Our machines follows all UE and hygienic standards. We produce our machines in many versions to be most suitable for our customers. We all the time develop our product. Our newest idea is an additional module where is possible selling of fresh eggs, cottage cheese, sausages etc.
The Bovine: How did you personally get started in this business?
Konrad: We started with two machines where we sell milk. We have seen that there was a lot of problems with those machines: stacking bottles, not proper amount of milk dosed etc. We decided to built our own vending machine and eliminate all this problems. So our idea was born. After first machines was ready and proper functioning we decide to go with our product to other customers.
At this moment we focused only on production raw milk vending machines.
The Bovine: What countries do you mainly export to?
Konrad: Most of our machines we sold on Polish market. Now we produce one machine to Estonia. We negotiate with our customers from Ukraine, USA, Kenya. We see that this subject is getting more and more popular all over the world.
The Bovine: Over here in North America, raw milk has been the subject of huge controversy, with health authorities claiming it’s a hazard. While in Europe, it seems to be not such a big deal, just an accepted fact that some people like raw milk and it’s ok for them to drink it. And yet we’ve heard of recent initiatives in Ireland, for instance, to ban raw milk. And there have been stories from France about how certain types of traditional cheeses have to be made from raw milk to get the taste right, and that there have been efforts by big corporations to replace those types of cheeses with ones made from pasteurized milk. What’s your perception of the state of raw milk in Europe? Is there growing interest in it like there is in North America? What sort of regulatory backlash, if any, are you aware of?
Konrad: I’m not really deep in government regulation all over the Europe. I know that raw milk is not denied in many of European countries. I know that raw milk is very popular in Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Poland of course.
I think that in European countries there is big knowledge about raw milk. People know what products they can make out of this milk. They know how to produce house cheese, sour milk, butter. This knowledge is bigger in countries from Eastern Europe where before 1989 was easier to do it by yourself than to buy in market.
Especially this knowledge is bigger between people more than 40 Years old. In my opinion interest in it will grow all over the world. Especially that we are more aware of this what we eat.
The Bovine: Have you had any interest from outside of Europe in your raw milk dispensing machines?
Konrad: Yes, for example. from Kenya, USA, Hong Kong. We see that our website is visited by people from Canada, South America, Australia, Asia.
The Bovine: What other countries have you exported to?
Konrad: At this moment we are building first machine to Estonia
The Bovine: Any interest from North America?
Konrad: Yes, We are in constant contact with one customer. We know that at this moment he is waiting on some approvals from Milk Sanitarian Supervisor. If everything will be OK I hope we’ll take next steps.
The Bovine: Do you personally drink raw milk?
Konrad: Yes I like it very much. I drink raw milk without boiling. I know how to make cheese, butter, sour milk.
The Bovine: How are raw milk sales handled in Poland?
Konrad: It’s very easy. You have to report Your willingness for raw milk selling to sanitary or veterinary inspector. After they acceptance they can visit Your point to check if all sanitary aspects are fullfilled. When we started our raw milk selling it took us not more than one week.
The Bovine: Is there a quality certification program there for raw milk producers?
Konrad: All of those aspects are regulated by EU. Milk producers are controlled by veterinary inspectors. There are limits and rules which has to be checked each time milk is produced.
The Bovine: What else would you like to add that I haven’t asked about?
Konrad: In my opinion popularity of raw milk will grow each day more and more. In Poland first vending machine was installed 1,5 Year ago. At this moment here are 150 machines. Our market is etimated on approx. 1,000 machines. This is really a lot and this is only Poland. Day by day we receive more request from countries all over the world.
This way of selling milk is perfect for both sides milk comsumers and milk producers. Milk comsumers can buy raw milk. This was really hard to buy before raw milk dispenser was installed. Raw milk was only available on farms. Vending machines allows to buy it even in big cities.
Milk producers can earn even three times more from milk selling. We calculate that reimbursement should be after 5-6 months after machine instalation (calculated with avarage milk sell on 120 – 150 ltr/ day)
This is really good bussines for both sides.
The Bovine: Thank you Konrad for taking the time to answer all these questions and for sending us the great photos. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have raw milk vending machines like those made by Konrad’s company all across North America? Someday!