“This year, the apple harvest is expected to amount to 730,000 tons, exceeding the ten-year average by around 25%. Approximately 25-30% of the harvest is eating apple and 70-75% is industrial apple”, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy said on Monday at the press conference to launch the apple consumption promotion campaign in Budapest.

It is very important to better adjust apple production to market needs in order to enhance competitiveness and the quality level of the underlying production technology. This would allow farmers to produce at lower unit-cost and with higher productivity, he pointed out.

It is important to ensure that both producers and consumers come off well: the producers receive a fair return on their investment, and consumers get the fruit as cheaply as possible, he added.

The Minister said that the government is facilitating a health-conscious lifestyle in which the consumption of Hungarian fruits and vegetables from an early age is a significant element. This is why the government is funding the school fruit scheme, in which apples are the most popular product.

The Ministry is striving to increase the ratio of apple consumption to that of industrial apple use, and to increase the production area of eating apples.

President of the National Chamber of Agriculture Balázs Győrffy said that the eating apple harvest began 2-3 weeks earlier this year. Late summer droughts may have caused the apples to shrink in certain areas, particularly where irrigation is not possible, which may even slightly expand the range of industrial apples.

The wholesale purchase price of eating apple is HUF 60 to 80 per kilogram, he added.

Managing Director of the Agricultural Marketing Centre (AMC) Péter Ondré highlighted that the 30 kg average per capita apple consumption of 15 years ago has since halved, and surveys show that 30% of Hungarians do not eat fruit regularly. He also noted that the AMC will be organising guerrilla tasting drives in Budapest to stimulate consumption and events in most apple-producing counties to show the culture of apple consumption and give producers an opportunity for direct sale.

István Hunyadi, professional director of the FruitVeb Fruit and Vegetable Product Council, explained that apple is produced on around 27,000 hectares in Hungary. He also noted that the largest production area is in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, with 17,000 hectares. Apple provides 30% of all fruit growing areas, mostly producing industrial apples, he said.

The apple consumption promotion campaign is being implemented in cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Marketing Centre, the National Chamber of Agriculture and the FruitVeb Fruit and Vegetable Product Council.

(MTI/Ministry of Agriculture)