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Hungary could produce 50% more food than it consumes, says official

Hungary produces about 20% more food than its inhabitants consume, but this level could be raised to 50%, Zoltán Gyaraky, a Rural Development Ministry official who specializes in the food processing industry, said at a conference on Thursday.

The ratio of domestically produced food to imports consumed in Hungary should be raised from about 70% at present to the earlier level of around 80%, Gyaraky said.

Hungarian farmers must struggle with falling output, lower profitability, weak competitiveness and a loss of markets, short-term thinking, the black market and the growing market share of brand names, he said. There is no single answer for all these problems, but family farms should get incentives for doing their own processing, he added.

Hungary's farm and food industry generates 4.6% of GDP but the average value of output per hectare, at €970, is less than half of the €2,100 EU average, Gyaraky said.

About two-thirds of Hungary's area is arable land.

Hungary's food industry was worth more than HUF 2,000 billion in 2009, the latest annual data published by the Central Statistical Office (KSH) shows. The value of exports rose to HUF 614 billion.

About 96% of Hungary's more than 8,300 food companies are small businesses. (MTI-Econews)