Hungary
was chosen as the study area because it has enough dynamics to reach the goals
of this research. Further, Hungary is a challenging area regarding land cover
changes (urban sprawl) and, hopefully, the results of this research will
provide valuable information for land use for organic agriculture policy
makers.

Hungary offers good conditions for organic production. Its
constitution bans the use of GMOs. Many of its low intensity agricultural areas
(mostly pastures, meadows, fallows) are free from the effects of agro-chemicals.
There are currently 127,000 hectares of certified organic land (about 2.5% of
the total agricultural area). More than 1500 enterprises produce approximately
€ 25 million (equivalent) of organically certified food. there are
numerous unexploited opportunities. it is also clear that the country’s organic
sector has not yet reached its potential Organic products in Hungary have only a small market share (less than
1%).

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Exports
and imports: About 85 % of the organic production is exported. Most of the
products leave the country as raw materials or as products with low added-value.
Most of the  organic assortments in
Hungarian food stores are imported processed products. 90 % of domestic organic
consumption comes from imported organic products

The
main customers for Hungarian organic food are Germany, Austria, the Netherlands
and Switzerland. At the same time, the majority of the  organic products in Hungarian food stores are imported.
Some studies  show that 90 % of the
domestic organic consumption is made up through importing organic products.
There is a huge  lack of organic processing
capacity in Hungary, and this could provide large number of  potential opportunities for organic food
processing companies.

Supermarket chains are playing
an ever-increasing role as distributers of organic products, selling about

60 % of the organic food consumed
in Hungary. Specialized shops sell about 20%, organic markets, fairs

and events comprise 6-10%,
on-line sales 6-7% and farm sales 2-3%. As elsewhere, it can be assumed

that
the supermarkets will play a major role in expanding the domestic
organic market. However, only few Hungarian organic producers can currently
meet the demands, quality standards and the regularity of supplies to fulfil
the demand from the supermarket chains. Large scale projects for development,
quality assurance of the product and most importantly cooperation in production
are needed to help domestic producers to stay in this market.

Hungary’s
leading agricultural products are a combination of staple crops, famous
specialty items such as wine and livestock products, and basic livestock.  The most important crops grown in Hungary
include corn, wheat, sugar beets, barley, potatoes, and sunflower seeds. It
also produces grapes and wine, including several famous wines such as those
from the Tokaj region. Other well-known specialty items include salami, goose
liver, and paprika. Livestock production is also important in Hungary.
Important livestock products include milk, meat, butter etc. Now the Hungary
has some important freshwater fisheries, mostly located on the Danube and Tisza
rivers, and on Lake Balaton. The commercial fishing sector consists mainly of
carp, pike, perch, sheatfish, and shad.

Hungary
also has important forestry resources, although poor forestry management
reduced Hungary’s forestry resources under communism. The increament in
agricultural area and inadequate forestation contributed to a significant
decline trend in the period following World War II. In response, in the 1960s the
government and launched an extensive reforestation program to reduce timber
cutting. The timber cut in 1998 was 3.88 million cubic meters (137 million cubic
feet).

Hungarian
consumers show a positive interest in organic products. They would be willing
to pay a premium price of about 30 % for organic products, and the same for
products free from GMOs. Opposite to West-European countries, Hungarian consumers
preferred to buy organic by health considerations. Free from GMOs, toxic chemicals,
additives, artificial flavourings and colourings, preservatives, and are perceived
as having a higher quality organic products are favouredBesides the demand for
organic products has  grown in recent
time, a large percentage of the consumers cannot define what are organic means,
and the difference from non-organic products. Effective outreach programmes and
reasoned marketing campaigns are needed to disseminate credible information and
to develop consumer awareness. Dissolving the misconceptions about organic
production is crucial for increasing domestic consumption.

Hungarian
organic production needs more strongly practice-oriented research. Furthermore,
more dissemination work is needed, underpinned by local scientific evidence,
and efforts are required to increase consumer awareness in order to establish a
stable and growing organic sector. Cooperation and better communication between
organic very is crucial.