The Hungarian plum harvest may be slightly better than average this year, with growers harvesting between 60 and 65,000 tons from 6,600 hectares, compared to 65-70,000 tons last year, said the vice president of the Hungarian Fruit and Vegetable Interprofessional Organization and Product Council (FruitVeB).
Ferenc Apáti pointed out that the differences between the varieties and the growing regions are significant this year due to the weather conditions. The crop was affected by the extremely droughty and frosty spring, and then the cool, rainy May, which resulted in severe fruit losses in June. The June storm and ice damage caused further damage to the crop, mainly in terms of quality. In some areas of the north-eastern region, which was more severely affected by the spring frost and storm damage, yields stand below the national average.
The annual yield ranges between 50 and 80 thousand tons, depending on the variety, which means an average of 8 to 13 tons per hectare.
The most significant production areas are in the Bács-Kiskun, Pest and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg counties. Together, these three account for about 70 percent of the Hungarian plum acreage.
In Hungary, per capita consumption is low, at around 1.3 kilograms. About 80 percent of the plum production is sold on the domestic market and 20 percent is exported. Narrowly half of the volume goes to the processing industry and more than half to the domestic or foreign fresh market.
Every year, Hungary imports between 900 and 1,100 tons of the fruit, 90% of which comes from Chile, while exports to Slovak and Slovenian markets amount to 200-400 tons. Exports show an upward trend, with the 250 tons of 2015 rising to 1300 tons last year.
Hungary now accounts for 4-5% of the EU's total plum production, which has fluctuated between 1.3-1.6 million tons in recent years.