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Farm minister orders investigation of sugar market

Rural Development Minister Sándor Fazekas has ordered an immediate investigation of practices of companies on the sugar market, state secretary György Czerván said.

Sugar prices have risen sharply recently, spawning “sugar tourism”, according to reports. Hungarians can by a kilogram of sugar in Austria for as little as €0.65, or about HUF 175, almost half of the price in Hungarian stores.

Fresh inflation data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH) show sugar prices rose 9.5% year-on-year and 8.2% month-on-month in January.

Johann Marihart, CEO of Agrana, which owns the last operating sugar refinery in Hungary, blamed the high sugar prices in Hungary on a “sugar deficit” -- domestic production meets just one-third of demand -- and the country's relatively high 25% VAT rate in a report published by Austrian Press Agency on Wednesday.