was chosen as the study area because it has enough dynamics to reach the goals
of this research. Further, Hungary is a challenging area regarding land cover
changes (urban sprawl) and, hopefully, the results of this research will
provide valuable information for land use for organic agriculture policymakers.
Hungary offers good conditions for organic production. Its
constitution bans the use of GMOs. Many of its low-intensityG1
agricultural areas (mostly pastures, meadows, fallows) are free from the
effects of agro-chemicals. There are currently 127,000 hectares of certified
organic land (about 2.5% of the total agricultural area). More than 1500
enterprises produce approximately € 25 million (equivalent) of organically
certified food. Yet it is also clear that the country’s organic sector has not
yet reached its potential and that there are numerous unexploited
products in Hungary have only a small market share (less than 1%).
and imports: About 85 % of the organic production is exported. Most of the
products leave the country as raw materials or as products with low
added-value. Most of the (modest) organic assortments in Hungarian food stores
are imported processed products. Some estimates suggest that 90 % of domestic
organic consumption is made up of imports.
main customers for Hungarian organic food are Germany, Austria, the Netherlands,
and SwiG2 tzerland. At the same time,
the majority of the (modest) organic assortments in Hungarian food stores are
processed imports. Some estimates suggest that 90 % of the domestic organic consumption
is made up of imports. There is a significant lack of organic processing
capacity in Hungary, and this could provide interesting potential market opportunities
for organic food processing companies. Hungary’s proximity to countries with
large organic markets contributes to this opportunity.
chains are playing an ever-increasing role as distributors of organic products,
selling aboutG3 G4
of the organic food consumed in Hungary. Specialized shops sell about 20%,
organic markets, fairs
6-10%, online sales 6-7% and farm sales 2-3%. As elsewhere, it can be
the supermarkets will play a major role in expanding the domestic
organic market. However, only a few Hungarian organic producers can currently
meet the volumes, quality standards and the regularity of deliveries demanded
by the supermarket chains. Pilot projects for product development, quality
assurance, and cooperation in production are needed to help domestic producers
tap into this market. The formation of farmers’ production and marketing
groups, organic farmers’ markets and local G6 G7 producer-consumerG8
networks can also be important vehicles for distributing certified local
organic products and expanding the domestic market.
leading agricultural products are a combination of staple crops, famous
specialty items such as wine and livestock products, and basic livestock.
Hungary’s most important crops include corn, wheat, sugar beets, barley,
potatoes, and sunflower seeds. It also produces grapes and wine, including
several famous wines such as those from the Tokaj region. Other well-known
specialty items include salami, goose liver, and paprika. Livestock production
is also important in Hungary, including cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, and
poultry. Important livestock products include milk, meat, butter, eggs, and
wool. Finally, Hungary has some important freshwater fisheries, mostly located
on the Danube and Tisza rivers, and on Lake Balaton. The commercial fish catch
consists mainly of carp, pike, perch, sheatfish, and shad.
also has important forestry resources, although poor forestry management
reduced Hungary’s forestry resources under communism. The expansion of
agriculture, a high rate of exploitation, and inadequate re-planting of trees
contributed to a significant decline in the period following World War II. In
response, the government reduced timber cutting and launched an extensive
reforestation program in the 1960s. The timber cut in 1998 was 3.88 million
cubic meters (137 million cubic feet).
consumers show a positive interest in organic products. They would be willing
to pay a premium price of about 30 % for organic products, and the same for
products free from GMOs. In contrast to West-European countries, Hungarian consumers
are mainly motivated to buy organic by health considerations. Studies have
shown that organic products are favored because they are free from GMOs, toxic chemicals,
additives, artificial flavorings and colorings, preservatives, and are perceived as
having a higher quality. Taste, nutritional value, and price are lesG9 s important motivating
factors, and ecosystem protection plays a minimal role for most Hungarian
consumers.G10 G11 G12
demand for organic products is growing, a large percentage of the population,
even some of those who regularly purchase organic products, cannot define what
organic means, and the difference from non-organic products. Effective outreach
programmes and reasoned marketing campaigns are needed to disseminate credible
information and to develop consumer awareness. Dissolving the misconceptions
about the organic productG13 ion is crucial for increasing domestic consumption.
Hungarian organic production needs more strongly practice-oriented
research. Furthermore, more dissemination work is needed, underpinned by local
scientific evidence, and efforts are required to increase consumer awareness in
order to establish a stable and growing organic sector. Cooperation and better
communication between organic stakeholders (producers, traders, umbrella organizations,
certifiers and research institutions) are crucial.