Hungary Newsflash Week 11

Tesco focusing on Hungary, digital agriculture developments, greenhouse vegetable news and agroforestry education - The week in Hungarian agriculture

Close-up of ripe bell peppers
©Hans Braxmeier
Due to the worst light conditions of the past 15 years observed in the December-January period, greenhouse vegetable production decreased by 30-40% by the beginning of the year.

Weekly Briefing

  • Horticulture: The National Chamber of Agriculture (NAK) reports that in greenhouse vegetable growing (heated greenhouses, including thermal-heated), due to the December-January period seeing the worst light conditions of the last 15 years, production decreased by 30-40% by the beginning of the year. For more information on greenhouse growing, see our article in the latest Agrospecial (in Dutch) over here. To see our sectoral overview of Hungary’s horticultural fruit and vegetable growing (in English), click here.
  • Animal husbandry: Due to bad weather conditions last year, as well as to shortages in the international market caused by countries stockpiling commodities because of the pandemic, the prices of animal feed are now skyrocketing. The Hungarian Animal Breeders Association estimates that feed prices have increased by 25-50%, which will increase breeders’ input costs by 10-20%. In the case of swine, poultry and dairy cow breeding, feeding can make up for 60-70% of the input costs.
  • Food industry & Meat sector: In a radio interview, Chief Veterinary Officer Lajos Bognár has stated that Hungary’s food industry remains stable during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. On the topic of extra safety measures in connection with the pandemic, the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH) has published various guide materials for food companies on how to maintain production with the safety measures in place. On the topic of the meat sector, Mr. Bognár commented that Hungary is expected to be declared free of Avian influenza by the end of May. We reported on Avian influenza in last week’s Newsflash.

Digital agriculture

The Mezőhegyesi Ménesbirtok (Mezőhegyes stud farm), a state-owned horse farm, largehold and innovation center, has announced the launching of a new technology showroom as a part of the implementation of the government’s Digital Agriculture Strategy. According to the institution, the strategy has four main aspects: “Hands-free farming,” greenhouse gas emission reduction, irrigation system optimization, and specimen-level analysis in animal husbandry. This was announced in an article from the Mezőhegyes farm published on the news portal Agrárszektor.

The farm will receive €3.27 million in governmental funding for the realization of the goals of the digital agriculture strategy. The farm will dedicate a portion of these funds to research and development involving universities, research centers and technology service providers, the rest will be used in the acquisition of equipment and machinery. A stated goal is the dissemination of technological developments to the members of the domestic agricultural grower community.

Precision agriculture is becoming more and more popular and sought after in Hungary. In this regard, 2021 will offer various exciting possibilities for meeting businesses, discovering the sector and the current trends of agro digitalization.

On that note, our agriculture office at the Netherlands Embassy is happy to announce that this September, we will be participating in PREGA, the biggest precision agriculture expo in Hungary. Another exciting development is that in July 2021, Hungary will be hosting the European Conference on Precision Agriculture in which the Netherlands Embassy will also cooperate.

Stay tuned for more news on ECPA 2021 and PREGA 2021!

A hen feeding.
©Andreas Göllner
According to the authorities, the earliest Hungary can be declared free of Avian influenza again is the end of May.

Tesco focusing more on Hungary, exits Poland

The news portal HVG reports that the British grocery retailer corporation Tesco is officially shutting down its Polish branch and exiting the country. The corporation reached this decision last year and the acquisition of the Tesco Polska chain by the Dutch Salling Group for around €195 million has recently been approved by competition authorities. In its official announcement, Tesco states that following this development, they will be able to focus more on Great Britain, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

Tesco has been often suspected as one of the primary targets of various tax measures by the Hungarian government that affected multinational corporations in the retail sector more severely than domestic companies. One instance was an extra tax on retail commerce between 2010 and 2012, which imposed heavier tax duties on larger companies based on profit brackets. Tesco later sued over imposed tax duties, but lost at court. Currently, the reintroduction of these extra tax duties as a part of the COVID-19 recovery effort, as well as governmental comments on the importance of Hungarian ownership in the sector sparked speculation in the press about the government’s renewed plan to force multinational retail corporations out of the country.

However, Zsolt Pártos, the general manager of Tesco Hungary, commented last year that Tesco did not intend to exit Hungary and that the company was in fact planning on new investments. On the topic of the corporation exiting Poland, he added that with the shutting down of Tesco Polska, the Hungarian branch will now be in a good position to strengthen its position in the region.

Practice-oriented education in forestry

The University of Sopron announced that together with a local trade school, they are planning on launching a new knowledge center for forestry education. The goal is to improve practice-focused learning in the education of the next generation of forestry professionals. The two institutions will also involve private sector stakeholders in order to enhance cooperation and improve synergies between parties in both the academia and education side as well as the business side of the sector.

According to the official announcement, the knowledge center will also offer post-gradual education in specialized fields. The knowledge center will be located in the city of Sopron in Western Hungary, and three other facilities will be involved in the project from Northern Hungary, Southern Hungary and from the Great Plains.

Award-winning Hungarian wines

Hungarian contestants won multiple awards at the “SAKURA” Japan Women’s Wine Awards 2021 event, which was held in Osaka, Japan, on February 16. This special event is held annually with only women judges from the Japanese wine industry. This year, a total of 186 women professionals judged over 4500 wines from 32 countries. Hungary’s Juliet Victor winery won a Double Gold award for its Betsek Furmint 2017, and Chateau Dereszla also took home a Double Gold for their Tokaji Semi-Dry White 2017. The Juliet Victor winery has already won a Double Gold award in 2019.

Despite the global pandemic, a record number of 4562 submitted wines were judged in the competition. The Diamond Trophy and Special Grand Prix awards will be announced later in March.

Find out more about Hungary’s iconic viticulture sector in our article over here.

71 new species discovered

The Hungarian Natural History Museum announced that their researchers, analyzing the museum’s specimen collection, identified 71 new species, six subs-species and three new genera recently. 65 of the new species are arthropods. Three are new snail species from the Balkans and one is a bat species out of China’s Wolong National Nature Reserve. Two of the new species are lichens.

The specimens of these new species are coming from 28 countries from the southern tip of Africa, through Europe and Asia to Papua New Guinea.