Coronavirus in Croatia: Issue of Self-Sufficiency Raised by Farmers

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of March, 2020, while Croatia’s residents are stepping up food their game in purchasing bulk supplies and standing in line in stores as coronavirus tightens its grip, the Croatian Government is making decisions on limiting the prices of food, hygiene supplies and protective equipment.

Owing to the coronavirus effect on the economy, the issue of self-sufficiency in production is increasingly being raised in Croatia, especially when it comes to food and medicines.

Farmers’ associations have often raised this issue in the past, pointing out that domestic production in Croatia is falling year by year. That is why the statistics surrounding about thirty products whose prices have been restricted by the government have been looked at, and the data from last year’s published annual report on the state of agriculture for 2018 published by the Ministry of Agriculture has been extracted.

It turned out that Croatia is far more than sufficient when it comes to the production of cereals, meaning that in this segment, production meets the needs of the Croatian market by 117.8 percent, but self-sufficiency in terms of vegetable production, at least back in 2017, amounted to Croatia’s needs at the level of a mere 61.9 percent, but not one type of vegetable is doing well enough. For example, domestic potato production covers up to 70 percent of the needs of the Croatian market, cabbage covers almost 86 percent of those needs, and as for onions and garlic, they meet 43 percent of the domestic market’s needs.

Self-sufficiency in fruit production amounted to reach only 40.2 percent of all domestic market needs, and only cherry and sour cherry production, with 233.8 percent, was sufficient.

Podravka CEO Marin Pucar says that the market works excellently when it comes to profit, that it is self-regulating in terms of profit, but not so well when it comes to the interests of each individual state and its population.

”As soon as the first signs of the [coronavirus] crisis emerged, both solidarity and the [idea of a] free market disappeared, and everyone is thinking only of themselves. Perhaps this is an opportunity to redefine strategic production, although we should have thought about all that a long time ago. I’m not saying that production can happen without any cost-effectiveness criteria, but the question is whether Podravka would have the production of processed tomatoes it boasts today had that been decided solely on the basis of profit. If Podravka had been taken over by a large international corporation, it might be said that only Vegeta’s production of ready-made soups, medicines and baby food would be profitable,” says Pucar, whose company is constantly reassuring the public that there is enough food and medicine for all.

Pucar says that this is why production takes place in three or four shifts in Podravka, but that the company must also be careful that the emergence of coronavirus among its workers at the plant wouldn’t endanger the production of food or medicines, according to a report from Novi List.

”I don’t know how many people know that in tomato processing, we cover up to 30 percent of the market and that we’re the only one doing that in Croatia. This isn’t particularly profitable production, since we’re paying higher prices to the subcontractors in Istria than we are to those in Italy, but we’ve not stopped producing. We’re also the only ones to have pickled and canned vegetables,” Pucar notes.

Asked if the solution might be that consumers prefer to opt for Croatian production, Pucar said that he understands the people who make their final decisions based on price, but pointed out that this is a situation where one really has to discuss self-sufficiency of strategic products.

Make sure to follow our dedicated section for rolling information on coronavirus in Croatia and our business page for more on how Croatian companies are coping with the current crisis.


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