Hungary Food Prices Spike Most in EU

Food prices have risen dramatically across Europe in recent months, jumping 19.6% in March from a year earlier and becoming the main driver of inflation as energy costs have fallen. But in Hungary, food prices have surged more than 45% over the year, according to EU statistics office Eurostat, far surpassing the next highest figure of just over 29% in Slovakia, the Associated Press reported. Such price hikes are hitting consumers hard in the Central European country, forcing them to change what kind of food they buy and how much of it they can afford, and leading businesses to rethink what they offer for sale. “Habits have definitely changed, so people are really thinking about what they buy. We’re almost to the point where sausage and ham are considered luxury food items,” said Szilvia Bukta, a manager at a butchery stall in Budapest’s historic Grand Market Hall. Some types of food in Hungary have nearly doubled in price in the past year. Staples like eggs, milk, butter and bread cost 72% to 80% more, pinching pocketbooks in a country where the median net wage is just over $900 per month. While most European economies are facing similar difficulties as Russia’s war in Ukraine fuels a cost-of-living crisis, inefficiencies in Hungary’s farming and food processing industries and a historic devaluation of the forint currency made the country’s “extreme inflation” worse than anywhere else in the EU, said Peter Virovacz, chief economist at ING Hungary. Read more.