Magazine: The French connection

By: Trademagazin Date: 2017. 07. 07. 07:09

Last year, when Hungary’s agri-food export performance improved by 1.6 percent, the country exported 10.5 percent more to France – this was one of the biggest market growths for us in the European Union in 2016. France is Hungary’s 7th biggest agri-food market. It must also be noted that France itself is one of the EU countries with the biggest agricultural potentials.France’s agri-food sector is strong: farmers are willing to cooperate and they lobby for their interests strongly. On one hectare of land French farmers produce 40 percent bigger value than Hungarian farmers. Perhaps it is because of this high level of productivity that only 1.7 percent of France’s 30 million active workers live off agriculture – the same proportion is 3.5 percent in Hungary. French agriculture’s contribution to the nation’s GDP is only 2.4 percent (it is 4.9 percent in Hungary).

France produces cereal crops, beef, wine, potatoes and dairy products in abundance, while Hungary has cereal crops (especially corn), pork and poultry meat, oilseeds and cooking oil to offer to France. In 2016 we sold 340 tons of live sheep and 780 tons of snails to France. The French purchased more than EUR 10 million worth of poultry meat from us, mainly sliced and frozen poultry. Demand increased for rabbit meat from Hungary: in 2015 we sold EUR 19,000 worth of rabbit meat in France, but by 2016 this value grew to almost EUR 1 million (and 221 tons in volume).

Back in 2005 Hungarian wheat export to France represented a value of EUR 2 million (5,800 tons). Last year our French wheat export exceeded EUR 6.5 million in value (40,000 tons in volume). We exported sunflower seeds for EUR 4 million and sunflower seed oil for EUR 5 million. Hungary’s corn seed export to France was a hefty EUR 19 million. Hungary’s canned vegetable export to France was worth nearly EUR 29 million (34,000 tons). Our fruit juice export got 65 percent bigger and went above the EUR 8-million threshold.

In 2016 the two biggest items in our French import were cereal crops and oilseeds – each represented a value of EUR 30 million. We bought food industry by-products for just this much, and preserved vegetables and various edible products for about EUR 20 million. Hungary’s confectionery product import surged by 20 percent and neared EUR 1.8 million in value and 800 tons in volume. We imported drinks for EUR 5.8 million and exported them for EUR 2.8 million.

In 2016 our surplus was almost EUR 55 million in trading with France. France’s share was 3.5 percent in our export, while French food products had a 4.3-percent share in our import. What makes the value of our French export even greater is the fact that French agriculture is much more competitive than Hungarian agriculture: in 2014 French farmers produced a value of EUR 2,281.2 on one hectare of land, while the same value was only EUR 1,425.3 per hectare in Hungary.

Dr Jenő Szabó
agricultural economist

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