Hungary Newsflash Week 12

Partial lockdown reopening, grocery retail news, green transition conference announcement, EU-Mercosur deal reaction, rabies vaccination - The week in Hungarian agriculture

Beeld: ©Pexels
Red foxes are the main culprits behind the spreading of rabies. The immunization program in Hungary,which continues this spring as well, has been highly succesful - The last confirmed rabies case was documented in 2017.
  • Green Transition: Central Europe’s leading green economy expo, Ökoindustra, will be held again this spring between April 28-30. The conference, Ökoindustria 2021, the sixth installment in the series will be held online with the Netherlands as the event’s guest country. Find out more about how you can participate here.
  • Pig sector: We published a new analysis article on the trends, challenges and opportunities of the Hungarian pig sector.
  • Government: Minister for Agriculture István Nagy said in an interview by the portal that the retail commerce sector is critical, and that foreign companies take out too much profit from the country. He added that if a larger share of retail commerce would be owned domestically then the profit “taken out of the country” could be used in developments domestically, and also that it would make economic planning more predictable, and protection from price volatility easier. Previously, Ministerial Commissioner János Lázár said in December at a conference that retail commerce is one of the sectors that should have more Hungarian ownership. For years, there has been widespread speculation in the press that the government would like to force multinational retail companies out of the country – See more about this in last week’s Newsflash.
  • Retail commerce: The government is negotiating with the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the restructuring of the emergency shutdown of retail stores, reports the new portal HVG. According to Prime Minister Orbán, the government accepted the Chamber’s proposal, according to which, the general shutdown stores would be replaced by restrictions based on floor area in square meters. For more information on the general lockdown measures, the closure of non-essential stores and the regulations in connection with the retail commerce of agricultural supplies, see our Week 10 Newsflash here.
  • Grocery retail & Food sector: According to a recent analysis by the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH), in the past six years, the share of food products in decreased from 80% to 70% in domestic grocery retail commerce. The largest decrease was observed in the processed food category (Cheese, yoghurts, fruit jam, packaged meat products, etc). There is a difference in the product variety based on ownership as well. While in multinational grocery retail stores, the share of domestically-produced food products is 66%, in the case of domestically-owned companies, this figure is 80%.
  • Aquaculture: As the fish breeding season is starting, fishery owners report that this year, rudds might replace carps as the most farmed fish in Hungarian aquaculture. While the producer price of carp is €1.92/kg, rudds go for €3.3/kg.
  • Precision agriculture: With the recent updates to the regulation of remote-controlled airborne vehicles, the operation of drones now has a set of requirements. The Institute for Transport Sciences offers a free basic course and there is also a mandatory examination for the fee of €12.6. These, along with compulsory liability insurance are requirements for operating airborne drones in Hungary.
Food products on shelves in a grocery store.
Beeld: ©Flickr
In the past six years, the amount of domestic food products in Hungary's retail chains decreased from 80% to 70%, shows a new analysis by the food chain authority.

Ministry increases food industry subsidies

Beáta Falkai, head of department in charge of food economy and quality policy at the Ministry of Agriculture has announced the size of the subsidy scheme intended for the food industry in the next seven-year cycle, reports the news portal Agrárszektor. While in the 2014-2020 planning period, the financial envelope for the subsidization of the food industry was €1.284 billion, in the next cycle, as a part of the Rural Development program, this subsidy will operate with a budget of €2.048 billion.

Ms. Falkai commented that there are 4211 companies in the Hungarian food industry employing 143 thousand people with a total profit of €10.154 million. In the past years, this industry doubled its incomes.

Chamber of Agriculture strongly opposes EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement

In a recent press statement, the National Chamber of Agriculture (NAK) refers to the February session of COPA-COGECA and their statement on the new trade agreement and voices its strong opposition towards the deal. The alliance states that the deal “reinforces double standards,” because for example, the EU would import “ethanol and sugar that do not meet the EU’s own production standards.” The Chamber also voices their concern that “the EU states ambitious goals in the Farm to Fork strategy, so this double standard is incomprehensible and it will lead to production moving to certain third countries where Europe has no say in the definition of production standards.” NAK supports COPA-COGECA in their opposition to the deal and addresses the European Parliament, asking for the “protection of the interests of Hungarian and European farmers and consumers.”

Rabies vaccination continues

The seasonal immunization of wild animals against rabies is commencing again in the spring. As a part of the campaign, the mandatory locking up domestic dogs and a ban on livestock grazing will enter into force in the Eastern and Southern counties in Hungary, announced the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH).

The immunization program, which is 75% co-financed by the EU, has been successful in the past years which is signified by the increasing rarity of confirmed rabies cases and the decreasing size of the area covered. This year, an area of 27.4 thousand square kilometers will be involved in the program with the airborne dispersal of vaccine baits. The last confirmed rabies case in Hungary was identified in 2017, but authorities have confirmed multiple cases in the last years in neighboring Romania, close to the Hungarian border. In Subcarpathia, in Western Ukraine, authorities have identified 12 cases in 2020 alone.

The main disease vector of rabies is the red fox. The Hungarian red fox population is estimated to be around 75 thousand individuals. In the past years, analyses showed that in the vaccination areas, some three-fourths of the fox population took the vaccinated bait.