Romania harvested a bumper wheat crop this year, yet wheat is becoming more expensive, leading to rising prices for bakery products. The phenomenon is tied to the world market, but also to offset the losses of previous years.
This year brought the largest wheat harvest since Romania’s accession to the EU in 2007. According to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, more than 11.33 million tonnes of wheat were grown this year in the country, and by Aug. 16, 98.54 percent of the area of about 2.2 million hectares had been harvested. The average yield per hectare was 5,346 tonnes.
By way of comparison, last year’s drought resulted in a crop of only 6.4 million tonnes of wheat in the country. The grain growers of Szeklerland — the predominantly Hungarian-inhabited area of the country — did not have a bad year either, although the area is not primarily famous for its grain. At the same time, yields in Hargita county are around the national average of 5.3 tons per hectare, and in Háromszék they exceed four tons in the case of wheat and barley.
These yields are generally worth treating with caution until the final figures come in, as farmers usually harvest the more promising crop first. Despite the abundant and high-quality wheat crop, experts are likely to make bread and bakery prices more expensive in the fall.
The explanation for the seemingly contradictory phenomenon is that the price of wheat and flour is determined by the world market, and this year the wheat harvest in Europe and worldwide is of lower quality. Thus, despite the outstanding quantity and quality in Romania, disappointing crops elsewhere increases the demand and the prices globally.
“This year, Romanian producers are trying to make up for last year’s losses by raising the price of wheat, when they were able to harvest 6.4 million tonnes nationwide. In America, Ukraine, Russia, i.e. the large wheat producers, however, the drought has accumulated this year, the yield is lower worldwide,” Romanian Agriculture Minister Adrian Oros said at a press conference.
It is also noteworthy that while the price of wheat generally falls during harvest, this has not happened this year either. László Diószegi, one of the best-known bakery entrepreneurs in the country, predicts a 10 percent price increase.
“From September 15, we will have to raise the price of bread, otherwise we will hardly be able to cover our production costs,” Diószegi said. “Flour prices have already increased three times this year, and another price increase has been announced since September 13. We have not raised our (bakery) prices for almost two years, but the drastically rising price of flour, energy and labor will make it inevitable for us.”
Title image: MTI/Tamás Sóki.