Hungarians’ favourite Easter dish, ham, will be in abundance in the shops. But the price will be extremely high, as the meat sector is struggling.
If it’s Easter in Hungary, it’s ham on the table. Real wages have been dropping in Hungary for four months now, so the purchasing value of wages is falling. With lower wages come higher food prices. Hungary has the highest overall inflation in Europe. According to the Central Statistical Office, general food inflation in Hungary has been above 40 percent in each of the last five months.
“There will be ham on the shelves, and our member companies are looking forward to the festive season,” Martina Mostisch, executive secretary of the Hungarian Meat Producers’ Association, told Index. On average, different ham products could cost 35-40 percent more this year than last year. “It’s ‘only’ 40 percent because traders are calculating a smaller margin to avoid even more deterrent prices. If the entire increase in purchase prices were passed on to consumers, we could see a 50-60 percent increase in the price of meat products at Easter in shops,” said Katalin Neubauer, secretary general of the Hungarian National Trade Association.
Hungarian retail outlets prefer products from domestic suppliers. However, international retail chains may use imported ham. Last Easter, 3.1 million households bought a total of 7,539 tonnes of ham and smoked meat.
Experience in recent years has shown that Hungarians prefer better quality. Mortisch says this could change now and that consumers would opt for cheaper products of lower quality because of rising prices.
“Pork and pork products have taken a smaller slice of the food inflation pie compared to other food products,” said Tamás Éder. The Hungarian cereals market has seen a drastic price increase, for example.
In Europe, there was an oversupply of pork, so prices did not rise at that time, but at the beginning of 2022, the oversupply was reduced and pork prices started to jump as a result. Not only cereals but also energy prices and rising labour costs had a negative impact on the industry.