ICE: New Chances in Hungary for Italian F&B

With unemployment at an all-time low and a constant increase in wages and GDP, the country is becoming an excellent outlet for Italian exports. Especially for agri-food companies that have premium products in their portfolio

The continued growth of the Hungarian economy – which in 2017 and 2018 recorded increases in GDP of 4% and 4.8% respectively and which is expected to reach +4.1% in 2019 compared to the previous year (source: Hungarian Government) – combined with the increase in local consumption, make Hungary an interesting destination market for many companies that aim to intensify their presence across borders, starting with European markets.

According to the analysis of Antonello Canale, Director of ICE- Italian Trade Agency Budapest, the level of unemployment in the country is at an all-time low: 3.6% in the first quarter of 2019. Wages, especially in the capital, continue to grow, shortening the distances with those of Western European countries and the quality of life in Budapest, which is comparable in many respects to that of the large cities of Northern Europe. Moreover, Hungary, with its strategic position in the heart of Europe, is increasingly an important hub for all countries in the Central-Eastern region.



Hungary has an accessible and high-end potential domestic market, with a dynamic agri-food industry, an extensive network of food distribution chains, a fast growing catering sector and a tourism sector that is accelerating the development of the hotel sector. The cuisine, the Italian lifestyle and consequently the products made in Italy, which have always been appreciated by Hungarian consumers, continue to enjoy great popularity in the country.


The main distribution channels for premium Italian food products are the delicatessen stores, located mainly in Budapest. These stores sell niche and high quality products; the target are mainly consumers with the highest purchasing power, more attentive to gastronomic novelties. Gourmet shops usually also supply ‘haute cuisine’, a sector that has seen considerable growth in recent years. However, the main distribution channel for consumer products remains large-scale distribution. Hungarian consumers, for convenience and time savings, mainly attend the points of sale of the 13 chains in the country, which, according to a recent analysis, have all increased their turnover in the last year, reflecting the greater purchasing power of consumers.

The increase in demand for healthy and organic products can also be seen in the same purchasing policies of large-scale distribution chains, which in several stores create specific sections dedicated to these categories. There are also more and more “free from” products to meet the needs of consumers with food intolerance. Price is still an important factor in the choices of Hungarian consumers. However, every year there is a continuous growth in the sale of organic products.


The Sirha Budapest exhibition, which in the last edition registered more than 300 exhibitors and over 20,000 trade visitors, is the most important event of the agri-food sector in Hungary. The trade show includes the confectionery industry, the bakery industry and the HoReCa sector.

The next edition will take place from 4 to 6 February 2020 and, for the third time, ICE-Italian Trade Agency will organize an Italian collective in the context of the promotional activities of the South Export Plan. The goal is to encourage the internationalization of small and medium-sized Italian companies.

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