A déjà vu in Eastern Europe
With an expanding export market and an annual GDP growth of 4 percent, Hungary is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. Yet when it comes to feed safety, it is a different story. Hungarian feed companies become GMP+ Feed Safety Assurance (FSA) certified for export, but not as much for domestic production. Is Hungary really ready for feed safety? I found the surprising answer on my first ever trip to the East European country last March.
JOHAN DEN HARTOG
Managing Director, GMP+ International
April 23, 2019
Looking at the number of GMP+ FSA certificates, Hungary is a far cry from countries like the Netherlands and Germany, or even Poland and the Czech Republic, where feed safety has taken center stage in the past decade(s) and GMP+ certification is omnipresent. For years, GMP+ growth in Hungary has been modest at best.
From corn to fish foods
During a recent business trip with the Hungarian Grain & Feed Association, I got the chance to visit the sprawling facility of Pannonia Bio in Budapest. Pannonia Bio owns a €250 million multi-product biorefinery that heavily invests in the development of new bio-based technologies. It is the largest ethanol plant in all of Europe.
I was not only struck by the sheer size of the facility, but also by the innovation that takes place there. At Pannonia Bio, corn kernels are transformed into a wide range of products, including meat alternatives, biofuel, biochemicals, and fish foods.
Even though this is just one company (albeit a big one), I have to admit the whole experience altered my outlook a bit on Hungary and its feed sector. Also it reminded me of similar experiences in another East European country.
For a long time, we saw the same situation in Poland: the only interest for certification there came from trade and transport abroad. Ten years ago, we could barely find audiences for our message. But eventually, along with domestic developments and growing export of animal products, came increased feed safety awareness – and applications for GMP+ FSA certificates shot up (recently there is even growing interest in Poland in the brand-new GMP+ GMO Controlled standard).
We are not there yet in Hungary. But I couldn’t suppress the feeling of a slight déjà vu. Sooner rather than later, feed safety will reign supreme in Hungary as well – starting next year, with a GMP+ seminar in Budapest.