Hungary Newsflash Week 7

COVID-19 effects on breweries and the dairy sector, campaign for domestic products, horticulture subsidy announcement, drone regulation and river pollution - The week in Hungarian agriculture

A bartender taps beer.
©Marcelo Ikeda Tchelão
The effects of the COVID-19 crisis are continued to be felt in the economy. The Hungarian brewing industry reports that their sales dropped by 9% in 2020, mainly due to the shutdown of the HORECA, tourism and entertainment sectors.

Weekly briefing

  • Brewing industry: The top five Hungarian companies in the beer business (Borsodi, Dreher, Heineken Hungary, Carlsberg, Pécsi) report that last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their total trade volume decreased by 7.5% to 6.18 million hectoliters, while domestic sales dropped by 9% to 5.66 million hectoliters. The domestic alliance of breweries reports that the loss of demand was caused by the collapse of the HORECA, tourism and entertainment industries.
    Heineken Hungary is the owner of the country’s largest beer brand, the iconic Soproni beer, which will soon be the first beer in a long time produced entirely from Hungarian ingredients following Heineken’s investment into the return of hop cultivation into Hungary. Find out more about this here.
  • Beverage industry: Coca-Cola decided to test the first prototype of its new, paper-based soda bottle in Hungary, for its plant-based beverage AdeZ. Click here to find out more.
  • Governance: The Ministry of Agriculture announced a new subsidy scheme, totaling €41.8 million, for fruit growers. The subsidy is intended to aid in the adoption of modern technologies and widen crop portfolios. The target of the scheme is the growers of fruits, medicinal herbs, aroma plants and spice farmers. We reported on the difficulties paprika growers faced last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic in last week’s newsflash.
  • Precision agriculture: The Ministry of Information and Technology (ITM) issued a new decree on the mandate of the institutions and organizations responsible for the education of pilots for remote-controlled drones. According to the decree, only organizations with licenses acquired from the air traffic control authority will be permitted to conduct drone pilot education programs, and for the sake of transparency, the list of these organizations will be published online.

Milk production – Costs increasing

The largest domestic dairy industry union recently conducted a survey among producers. The outcome shows that in one year, milk production costs increased by 15-18%. This aggregate increase is based on the changing costs for animal husbandry, feed, packaging materials, infrastructural costs, logistics, labor – And a variety of other expenses which accumulate in the product chain.

Noticeable changes were caused by the pandemic which substantially increased the costs of hygienic procedures. Another factor was the decreasing value of the Hungarian Forint, which further increased the prices of energy, animal feed and packaging materials – Which also led to increased input costs in the dairy sector.

A drone flying over a field
©DJI-Agras
A new regulation to the education of drone pilots aims to increase transparency and makes the training of remote-controlled drone pilots conditional upon licensing from the national air traffic control authority.

Campaign for purchasing domestic deemed successful

The nonprofit called Magyar Termék (Hungarian Product), a platform for the popularization of domestic Hungarian products recently organized a press conference on their recent popularization campaign, reports the news portal Magyar Mezőgazdaság. Hungarian producers participating in the cooperation spearheaded by the nonprofit use a special brand label on their products, signaling to the consumers that the product in question is 100% Hungarian in its origin. So far, thousands of citizens and over 180 companies joined the platform.

Their recent campaign “Buy domestic!” was launched last May, as a reaction to the economic effects the COVID-19 crisis had on Hungarian food sectors.

The platform’s general manager, Eszter Benedek commented that last year thirty companies joined the platform and through the campaign to popularize domestic products, their aggregate profits increased from €3.62 billion to €4.26 billion.

The platform also reports that the prospects of the campaign are positive because as the pandemic progresses, consumers are consciously searching for high-quality domestic products.

River polluted with heavy metals

Authorities in Romania alerted their Hungarian counterparts through the Principal International Alarming Centre (PIAC) on Wednesday, signaling that contaminants from industrial mining reached the Szamos (Someș) river, reports the news portal 444.hu. The portal HVG writes that at around 2 AM on Thursday, inspectors from the national disaster management directorate took samples from the river and identified elevated levels of zinc, copper, aluminum and iron.

The Szamos is a tributary of the River Tisza, which is in turn one of the largest tributaries of the Danube. The River Tisza is home to many endangered species, including the Tisza mayfly, (Palingenia longicauda) a subspecies to, and one of the last surviving populations of, the European mayfly, which, due to human activity, is almost extinct from Europe’s rivers today.