Despite difficulties, there is enough fish and everyone can find something for the Christmas table in the shops, said Agriculture Minister István Nagy at a press conference promoting fish consumption in Budapest’s Central Market Hall on Monday.
The Minister stressed that the Christmas period is a crucial time for fish consumption in Hungary. It is estimated that fish producers sell 40 percent of their annual stocks during the holiday festivities, and for some large fish producers, Christmas fish sales account for 60-70 percent of their annual turnover.
István Nagy explained that the majority of fish farmers have been smart to optimize production in the difficult conditions, “like good farmers.” Some ponds have not been filled and those that could not be filled to capacity have been stocked at lower densities, he said, adding that although this has reduced the amount of fish produced, it has effectively minimized their inevitable losses.
Photo: MTI/Balázs Attila
Nagy thanked all those involved in the sector for ensuring that there would be enough Hungarian fish on holiday tables, as they had also limited the volume of exports to this end. The Agriculture Minister encouraged everyone to seek and buy Hungarian fish.
He also pointed out that per capita fish consumption has been steadily increasing in recent years. He said that in 2013, when the Hungarian Fish Farming Operational Program (MAHOP) was launched, fish consumption was 5.4 kilograms per year, yet by 2021 it had risen to 6.5 kilograms, an increase of 20 percent. While the figures are attractive,
Hungarian fish consumption remains low by European standards, the Minister said.
The dominant species in domestic fish production and consumption is carp, followed by African catfish. The Minister highlighted the rapid growth of intensive fish production, which, while it accounted for 15% of the total in 2013, has now risen to 24%. African catfish now accounts for 94% of the consumer fish produced in intensive aquaculture, with production doubling since 2013, from 2,050 to 4,108 tons. Hungary is now the largest producer of African catfish in the EU.
Photo: Facebook Rózsa Nemes Futó
Battered carp is one of the most popular traditional Hungarian Christmas Eve dinners, usually served with potato salad.
Due to its slightly fatty texture and fine fishbone, carp has waned in popularity in past years, and is often being replaced by African catfish or its more expensive European catfish variety.
Although Hungary is a land-locked country, imported saltwater fish are increasingly popular, especially as the price of domestically farmed fish is often similar to that of foreign salmon or cod.
Featured Photo: MTI/Sóki Tamás