Horticulture: a sea of Dutch opportunities in Hungary
A recent field visit by the Embassy’s agricultural team to the south-east of the country revealed that the abundance of geothermal energy and sunlight, the geographic location, and even the challenge of labour shortage presents great opportunities for Dutch horticulture businesses.
Dutch presence in the area
Csongrád county in the south-east of Hungary borders both Serbia and Romania, making it a great location for international trade. Besides, the area holds vast amounts of geothermal water and due to its southern setting has an abundance of sunshine. These factors combined have led to Csongrád becoming the natural centre of Hungarian horticulture.
Dutch businesses were fast to recognise the opportunities that lie in this rich area and since the late 1980s various companies have established subsidiaries or clients for their technology here. Companies present in the area are often market leaders and include Rijk Zwaan, Royal Brinkman and Grow Group. The largest geothermal greenhouse complex in Europe exists here too. Interestingly, the 45 hectares of greenhouses were all built using Dutch technology.
But the existence of Dutch and Hungarian businesses does not mean that Csongrád county is devoid of opportunities. Much of the produce grown by these horticulture companies is sold nationally. Yet the area’s location means that international trade of Hungarian products can be an unexploited market opportunity.
A major challenge that all horticulture - and other agricultural sectors - are facing not only in the county, but nationwide, is labour shortage. Thanks to public employment schemes, unemployment is at record lows in the country. Many people have emigrated to the West for better wages, or found better paying jobs in other sectors, like the automotive assembly industries.
Lack of manual labour means that to survive, growers must innovate and seek ways to implement automatisation and robotisation practices. The Netherlands is a frontrunner in this, also in horticulture. The challenge of labour shortages could be turned into an opportunity for Dutch knowledge and innovation to further expand to Hungary.
The agricultural team at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Budapest is happy to assist with any trade-related questions. Please find the contact details below. If you are interested in getting an overview of the field visit to the county, see this video on the Embassy's Facebook page.
Peter Bori – Junior Policy Advisor Agriculture
For trade requests:
Szilvia Palakovics, Senior Policy Advisor Agriculture