Hungary: Crises and changing mindsets

Inflation record, price cap on firewood, historically low maize harvest, changing figures of women managers in agriculture - Our Friday briefing on Hungarian agriculture

A woman shopping in a grocery store.
Beeld: ©MatlaBrand
Food inflation is skyrocketing in Hungary - Many food products are 30-50% more expensive than a year ago. The inflation figure in August was 16.7%, and experts think the figure will go higher before the end of the year.

Inflation record high, food prices skyrocketing

The Hungarian edition of Euronews reports that based on the latest report of the Central Statistical Office (KSH), inflation in Hungary has reached 15.6% n August. The news portal writes that core inflation is now 16.7% and the effect of increasing household utility costs has not yet reached the inflation curve.

The August inflation figure set a new 24-year record, and food inflation is even higher, with an average of 30.9%. The prices of many food products increased by 30-50% y-o-y, however, some items increased in price by more than 60% in a year.

The y-o-y price increase for margarine was 65.8% last month, the price of bread went up by 57.9%. The price of dairy increased by 43.8% in average, however, cheese was 52.6 % more expensive than a year ago. Dry pasta products and bakery goods saw price increases of 49.1% and 38.5%, respectively.

In the poultry sector, the prices of chicken meat and eggs increased by 38.8% and 37.5%, respectively. reports that analysts expect Hungary’s inflation figure to potentially reach 20% by the end of the year.

How many women managers are in agriculture in Hungary?

A new study by the Central Statistical Office (KSH) analyzed the rate of education and the share of genders in various sectors in Hungary. A paper based on the agriculture-related sectors shows that  73% of all agricultural managers in the country have relevant education in an agriculture field, 44% of them are highly educated, 22% have middle level education and 7% have basic education.

86% of all managers in Hungary are men, this figure is even higher in the agriculture industry, with 89% of managers being men and 11% women.

The fact that agricultural education is more popular among young men is also visible in the fact that out of men who are agricultural managers, 56% do not have relevant education in agriculture, however, this figure is 74% in the case of women managers. 10% of men in management have a higher education degree in an agro field, while this rate is 6% for their women counterparts which means that 81% of all highly educated agriculture managers are men.

The figures show a slowly changing landscape though. The age group over 54 years shows the highest percentage of higher education in management positions (65-69%). There is a relatively low share of higher education in the age group 40-44 (around 50%) and the age group 25-34 shows a higher percentage again (62%). In general, the highest rate of higher education in management in agricultural companies are shared between the age groups 20-39 and 54+.

However, there are differences based on gender. In the case of men, 66-70% of all managers with higher education in agriculture are aged 55+, in the case of women, 66-67% of managers with an agriculture degree are aged 25-34.

Government announces price cap on firewood

The government of Hungary announced on Thursday a new price cap on fuel for household stoves and furnaces, specifically, firewood and lignite.

The new policy comes after a recent legislative amendment, in which the government relaxed the environmental protection regulations on the country's woodlands, clearing the way for logging, including in protected forests. The measure led to criticism by stakeholders and NGOs.

The new measure will enable consumers to buy a maximum of 10 m3 of firewood at a governentally cotrolled price. The introduction of the regulated price will happen before the beginning of the winter heating season. Aside from dispensaries, forestries will also be allowed to sell firewood directly per the new policy.

Gergely Gulyás, Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office also added that due to the rise in gas prices, the government has issued a general 25% gas consumption reduction in public institutions, except for hospitals and social institutions.

Hungary won’t have enough maize for export his year

The news portal Agrárszektor interviewed Zsófia Pótsa, secretary-general of the cereal processors’ and fedd producers alliance in Hungary. Based on the latest information, the country will not be able to export maize this year. Although the government introduced an export registration obligation earlier this year (which many feared will hinder the country’s cereal exports), the government has not halted trade by buying up shipments.

However, maize production in the country has been hit hard by the drought this year. As we reported recently, in 2022, climate change hit Hungarian agriculture like a freight train. The drought destroyed the harvest over at least 690 thousand hectares of farmland, and although wheat yields have been, for the most part, not great but not terrible, the farming of maize, a notoriously water-sensitive crop, has been dealt a devastating blow.

Early projections suggest a total yield of 3.1 million tons of maize in the country, which might be higher (the most optimistic figures do not exceed 3.5 million tons). However, the domestic industries use 4 to 5 million tons of maize annually in the country. Apparently, 2022 will be the first year in living memory where Hungary will not be able to supply its domestic demand of maize.

The news portal Agrárszektor writes in their article that it is also true that Hungary’s maize consumption has increased in the past years with the increased demand for industrial applications, primarily, ethanol manufacturing, which uses 2 to 2.5 million tons, followed by animal feed production, which uses 1.8 million tons. Human consumption only makes up for 200 thousand tons of maize in a year.