Hungary Newsflash Week 18

Investments in the dairy sector, poultry indusry reacts to rising feed prices, partial HORECA reopening, horticulture and wine production suffering from the weather, and the dire situation of Hungary's swallows - The week in Hungarian agriculture

Dinner outside.
©Pexels
With the partial reopening of the HORECA sector, terraces and outdoor areas of restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, catering businesses can now open to patrons every day until 9:30 PM.

Weekly briefing

  • Green industry: Last week, between April 28-30 the first online Ökoindustria conference was held in Hungary. (More precisely, in Hungary’s digital sphere.) This was the sixth Ökoindustria conference altogether and the first one entirely held online. Ökoindustria is the leading green expo in Central and Eastern Europe. This year, the Netherlands was the guest country of the expo. Nineteen Dutch exhibitors participated with virtual booths and the Netherlands Embassy participated with an orange Netherlands Pavilion. Altogether, 70 exhibitors and more than 4200 guests attended the event. See more here.
  • HORECA: Partial reopening was introduced in the end of April. According to the government’s figures, Hungary vaccinated 3.5 million citizens by April 23, and so the terraces/open-air spaces of the HORECA industry can be reopened to patrons until 9:30 PM. The curfew now starts at 11 PM.
  • Poultry industry: The domestic industrial alliance of laying hen breeders and egg producers have announced that farmers will raise the producer price of eggs by 20% in the coming period. The alliance stated that due to the current six-month trend of rising animal feed prices, the current producer price of egg barely covers the costs. The alliance also added that currently there is a higher quantity of eggs imported from other member states than usually, which makes the situation for domestic producers more difficult.
  • Horticulture: Due to the continued spring frosts, apricot and peach crops have been severely hit throughout Hungary. (See our report over here.) It is too early in the season to assess the full extent of damages. Producers are now hoping for average yields but the frosts or the coming June rainy period might cause a 10% harvest yield loss for strawberry production. Stakeholders are now projecting a 10-30% price increase for fruits and vegetables in the coming months.
  • Viticulture: The turbulent spring weather patterns affected vineyards as well in various areas in Hungary. In the historic wine region Tokaj, vegetation and blossoming has been delayed by three weeks. Vineyard owners haven’t reported such a disruption in 25 years – And this phenomenon will pose serious challenges in the growing season and will also affect harvest yields.
  • Aquaculture & Fisheries: As a part of the partial lifting of restrictive measures, a new governmental decree allows licensed fishermen to participate in night fishing provided that they have received their immunization certificate. (A plastic card issued after vaccination)
  • Dairy sector: With a €14 million investment, Friesland Campina Hungary is expanding its production capacities at their Mátészalka factory. The new expansion will increase the production output by 25%. See more in our news update here.
Barn swallow nest
©Jochen Schaft
Many things contribute to the decline of the populations of Hungary's swallow species - Industrial agriculture, bad citizen habits and especially the chemical agents used in mosquito eradication programs which devastate the insect populations, the primary food source of swallows.

€8.3 million innovation and R&D center for dairy research

MTKI Kft., a dairy research institution based in Mosonmagyaróvár, Western Hungary, is expanding its portfolio with a new, €8.3 million facility which will serve as an innovation and R&D center and the company’s new headquarters. The institution, which is 118 years old and employs 104 currently operates as a company owned by the Hungarian agriculture and life science university (That’s the recently created mega-institution, we reported on this here.)

Minister for Agriculture István Nagy participated in the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the new facility. The Minister highlighted that today many dairy producers only stay afloat due to subsidies and that Hungary still has lots of work to do to improve sustainability and competitiveness in this sector. The Minister also highlighted that the market can change rapidly due to fashion trends, health factors and many other reasons, and that the agro industries and food production has to be able to adapt to the changing market conditions. The new center will offer a wider portfolio of research services.

To Kill a Swallow

The Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society (MME) reports that two million swallows have disappeared from Hungary’s ecosystems and that humanity is at fault. This was stated by spokesperson Zoltán Orbán in an interview with the radio station InfoRádió. According to to MME, the primary causes of the swallows’ plight is large-scale industrial agriculture, climate change, mosquito eradication programs using obsolete chemical agents and the fact that many people still destroy swallow nests. However, the amount of nests destroyed by citizens has decreased by 50% due to successful popular information campaigns. Still, the populations of common house martins, sand martins and barn swallows have dropped by a staggering 62% between 2000 and 2010.

Swallows normally consume large numbers of insect pests, and due to the decline of their populations, an extra two thousand tons of pests remain in the ecosystem every year. Mr. Zoltán Orbán said that the mosquito eradication programs are especially destructive for the ecosystem, also affecting insectivore swallows. “98% of Hungary’s mosquito eradication programs use neurotoxin agents, which kill every insect indiscriminately. Out of one hundred insects killed by the toxins, two are mosquitos.”