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Hungary frees up sugar reserves to bring down prices

Hungary's government will release 2,000 tonnes of sugar from state reserves to bring down high sugar prices, Rural Development Minister Sándor Fazekas said in a statement sent to MTI on Friday.

Sugar prices were up 67.3% in March from the same month a year earlier, the latest data from the Central Statistics Office (KSH) shows. In the same month, Fazekas ordered an investigation of practices of companies on the sugar market.

Hungary has just one operating sugar refinery, owned by Magyar Cukor, a unit of Austria's Agrana. All of the other refineries were shut down after the 2007 season, when the EU slashed sugar price subsidies and offered farmers and refineries incentives to get out of the business.

"Our hands are tied until 2014 because of the EU's sugar regulation, but afterward, with careful planning, we can change the future of Hungary sugar production with the toughest protection of Hungarian farmers' interests," Fazekas said.