Chestnut prices have jumped by 66 percent in Hungary in just one year, reaching HUF 1,000 per kilogram compared with HUF 600 last year, the Hungarian Institute for Agricultural reported. By the time these winter delights reach the cities and are roasted by street vendors, chances are a small paper cone with about a dozen hot chestnuts will set you back about HUF 1,000.
The report cites three reasons: on the one hand, chestnut trees are notoriously sensitive and require special ecological conditions such as very mild and rainy weather as well as an alkaline soil. As for the weather, rainfall in Hungary was well below the average this year, with a record low water level reported on the Danube where it enters the country from Slovakia – a mere 11 centimetres (4.3 in).
The second reason is that chestnut trees have in past fifteen years have been decimated by the chestnut blight fungus and the aggressively invasive Oriental chestnut wasps which destroy part of the harvest on the remaining trees. Third, the last time chestnut trees were planted in significant numbers was back in the 1970s and most of those trees are approaching the end of their lifespan.
So Hungarians are increasingly relying in Italian imports (as much as 2,500 tons per year) to satisfy their craving for the delicacy.