The Hungarian premium quality ground paprika is also in demand abroad. The balance of trade in Hungary’s ground paprika is positive: while Hungary imports mainly lower-value bulk products, the bulk of exports are high value-added, premium products, writes Magyar Nemzet.
Paprika from Kalocsa (southern Hungary) and Szeged (southern Hungary) has EU protection of origin, but its marketing abroad should be further strengthened. Although the external trade balance for ground paprika is still in surplus in value terms, imports of ground paprika are twice as high in volume terms as exports, the National Chamber of Agriculture noted.
The production of paprika is concentrated in the counties of Bács-Kiskun and Csongrád-Csanád, in the Szeged and Kalocsa production districts.
However, the area under production has almost halved in five years, falling from 1,739 hectares in 2018, to less than 1,000 hectares in 2023 (950 hectares).
Among the reasons, the National Chamber of Agriculture pointed out that the average yield has been around eight to nine tons per hectare in recent years, compared with the 20 to 30 tons per hectare that could be considered economical. In other words, it is not economically viable for non-intensive producers, and many smaller producers have abandoned production. The sector is undergoing market consolidation and restructuring, the chamber’s analysis concluded.
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Production costs for sweet peppers have roughly doubled in the last decade, with total costs reaching up to HUF 5 million (EUR 12,922) per hectare. Harvesting accounts for almost half of the expenditure, and intensive production – whether large or small-scale, or retail – is considered to be profitable. Climate change phenomena, such as sudden and large changes between day and night temperatures and UV sun radiation, have a significant impact on yields.
The increasingly frequent monsoonal rainfall also causes significant damage.
Although climate change and rising production costs pose a challenge, the sector can be strengthened by more efficient technology, greater organization, and stronger marketing.
A shift is recommended towards cold-pressing could be justified for the production of premium raw materials. The integration of producers, of which there are several good examples in the sector, would mean improvements in technology, efficiency, and competitiveness, the National Chamber of Agriculture concluded.
FactPaprika was not known as a spice and vegetable in old Hungarian cuisine, its use spread slowly and only became generally known in the 18th century. It is thought to have been introduced in the 1600s. The first specimens were grown in the garden of the Franciscan monastery in Szeged. In Europe, it was here, in addition to Spain, and later in the Kalocsa region, that mass cultivation of paprika began. This was helped by a Hungarian invention: paprika powder.
Via Magyar Nemzet, Featured image via Facebook/Farkas Péter