The Central Statistical Office recently published an inventory of more than 100 pages about the previous year. We have been browsing through the sea of numbers for our readers, and besides the well-known results we also found some surprising data.
In the past two years Hungary was characterised by continuous economic growth. This generates new hope that the gap with Europe is not still growing. The “productive” areas such as industry, agriculture and construction had a large part in creating the growth trend.
Agriculture managed to achieve an impressive growth of 13% in 2014, the turnover of enterprises in the sector growing 17%. Labour productivity, which is often a subject of scorn, grew 11%. The agricultural sector was able to increase its total volume by 9.6%, which still added an increase of 4.2% if we consider that the producers’ prices fell 4.9%. The average growth was 13% by farming and 5.6% by stock-raising.
Warmest year brought top crop
The corn yield and apple harvest were one third higher than in 2013. The quantity produced from the new hit product rapeseed grew one quarter and cereals were up more than one fifth. Potatoes (up 12%) and fruits (up 9.7%) produced somewhat more modest results.
However, farmers were not always overjoyed about the profits, because producer prices for potatoes, fruits and forage crops fell back by almost one fifth. The excellent crop yield was primarily thanks to the ideal weather. Last year was the warmest since weather records began in Hungary.
A remarkably mild winter was followed by an exceptionally wet February. In summer there was only one period of drought in June, and in the hottest months, July and August, there was enough rain. The humid summer was followed by a mild autumn – farmers could rub their hands in satisfaction.
More than 7.7 tonnes of corn were reaped per hectare, up more than 42% on 2013. The yield per hectare grew a quarter to 66.4 tonnes for sugar beet and by one fifth up to 3.2 tonnes by canola.
Farmers could celebrate earning top incomes from corn and rapeseed: Even in the country of cornfields, Hungary, there has never been so much as 9,169,000 tonnes corn (up 36% on 2013) reaped, which makes the 680,000 tonnes of canola (up 28%) look even modest. The rediscovered canola with the yellow flowers overcame the legume alfalfa (about 600,000 tonnes) in both yield and acreage. Sunflowers (1,555,000 tonnes) and sugar beet (1,010,000 tonnes) are not the most popular Hungarian agricultural products any more.
In the case of sugar beet, which is not needed so much now because after joining the European Union only one single sugar factory remained in Hungary, the high yield achieved in 2014 was able to compensate for the shrinking acreage. A total 1,279,000 tonnes of barley were harvested last year, a yield per hectare 4.5 tonnes higher than in 2013.
The second most commonly planted seed in Hungary next to corn is wheat. The yield per hectare of 4.7 tonnes was only a little higher than in 2013, but due to the slightly increased farming area the yield was 5,325,000 tonnes, one fifth more than the average of the past five years.
Product flood kept purchase prices down
Animal breeding has been showing a trend of growth ever since 2010; last year more than 800,000 cattle were counted in Hungary – 120,000 more than four years before. In pig farming, which had its lowest point in 2012 when the stock fell below three million, it seems that the bad times are finally over, since the upcoming reduction of the value added tax on pork to 5% is naturally making this animal more attractive for farmers. The 3,136,000 pigs counted last year are still 30,000 less than in 2010.
The number of domestic sheep is steady at about 1.1-1.2 million. For poultry the worst year was 2013, when the national stock fell below 38 million. Since then there has been another negative record of hardly more than 1 million geese registered, and the 4.3 million ducks only make up three-quarters of the stock registered in 2010. The Central Statistical Office counted around 2.8 million turkeys and 30.5 million chicken countrywide – both showing a slight increase.
Farmers can expect a generally improving turnover on the market. However, the golden years such as 2010-2012 are over; the flood of product has forced down purchase prices by almost 15%. The price of milk maintained its growth last year, up 6%. As regards new investments in agriculture it came in handy that they paid 4-11% less for important components such as animal fodder, artificial fertiliser and energy.
Automotive factories are pulling up whole regions
Hungarian industry is dominated by the manufacturing sector, which makes up more than 90%. Industrial output grew 8.6% in 2014. The most productive branch, the automotive industry, is driven by exports, which grew only 21% compared to the 29% increase on the domestic market.
The 16% growth in the textile and leather industry, which still remains marginal in Hungary today, was also mainly driven by the automotive industry. The order backlog in the manufacturing sector was one fifth higher at the end of the year than 12 months earlier, which gives hope for continuation of the growth trend when the figures are in for 2015.
However, while the order backlog grew by one tenth in the automotive industry, it tripled in the pharmaceutical industry. Only Ireland in all Europe grew faster than Hungary.
Large companies with at least 250 employees produce 70% of domestic industrial output – this group generated growth almost exclusively from exports. The medium-size companies contributed one fifth of the total production. Small companies with less than 50 employees mostly make their living on the domestic market, however even in this group growth was six times as large on foreign markets as in Hungary.
The number of employees in the industrial sector grew 2.5% in 2014, with output per person up 5.1%. In the manufacturing sector the increase in output was 5.9%, with the automotive industry contributing 9.7%. In a not too surprising way, the productivity of the energy sector decreased further, 8.6%.
Central Hungary, including Budapest and Pest County with its commuter belt, generated an industrial volume of HUF 5,500 billion. Thanks to the automotive industry, output in West Transdanubia grew 18% to HUF 4,900 billion, pushing back Central Transdanubia to third place in regional competition with its result of HUF 4,700 billion.
Similarly, the Southern Great Plain beat the Northern Great Plain by HUF 3,000 billion (up 16%). It’s not too hard to recall that the two large automotive factories of Audi and Mercedes are situated in the two Hungarian regions showing a particularly dynamic growth.
280 residences in northern Hungary
The construction industry was able to surpass the lowest point of 2012, with a value passing HUF 2,000 billion last year. However, orders fell 17% compared to 2013. Residential construction remains poor because even with growth of 15% and 8,360 residences it did not reach even one-fifth of the level before the global financial crisis.
In three northern counties only 280 new residences were completed, meaning that statistically 2.5 residences were built for every 10,000 residents. With such low activity it is hardly surprising that new constructions were only a 2.5% share of the residential market.