The year 2023 will be a test of resilience for the food industry, as the crisis is also causing a change in consumer behaviour pointed out the Slovak Food Chamber and the Slovak Chamber of Agriculture and Food. In reaction to the crisis, price became the main criterion for buying a product and consumers are increasingly looking less for premium products. "After a difficult year 2022, when Slovak food producers also had to cope with a huge increase in the prices of raw materials, fuels, packaging materials and energy, another challenging year awaits us. How food companies will manage to cope with it depends mainly on the systemic measures of the government for the overall support and protection of the business environment," said Jana Venhartová, Director of the Slovak Food Chamber.
On the other hand, according to her, last year the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic announced calls for food producers for the highest annual volume of funds in the last decade. The call for investments in food processing enterprises was increased to a total amount of 240 million euros, food producers received extraordinary aid and calls to cover increased energy costs in connection with the military conflict in Ukraine.
"For 2023 it will be crucial to evaluate and process the call for investments in food processing enterprises so that the projects applied for can be implemented even taking into account the increase in costs compared to the application period. At the same time, food producers expect the introduction of state aid schemes for the food industry as a systemic support for the sector from the state budget," she stressed.
According to Venhart, producers' costs this year will be influenced by the state's ability to respond flexibly and effectively to high electricity prices, and ensuring both physical and affordable energy availability for the whole year. She said rising costs and inflation, caused mainly by rising food prices, are reducing the population's purchasing power, which is reflected in reduced consumption. The crisis is also causing a change in consumer behaviour, with price becoming the main criterion for buying a product and consumers increasingly looking less for premium products.
According to the Director of PKS, both the government and the parliament should carefully consider the impact of the adopted legislation on entrepreneurs and not burden them with additional costs in the current recession. "In 2023, we also expect a discussion on sectoral sub-legislation so as to remove unnecessary administrative burdens and conditions that put Slovak food producers at a competitive disadvantage compared to foreign producers," Venhartová added.
Jana Holéciová, spokeswoman for the SPPK, added that the aim is to create national stability in the approach to the agri-food sector and to support Slovakia in its task to become a competitive country in the field of food production on the European market.
"The state's actions must lead to strengthening the competitiveness of the food industry, creating new jobs, promoting sustainable growth while maintaining the set environmental goals, reducing the vulnerability of the food supply chain, promoting an increase in the share of domestic food on the domestic market and producing a greater choice of quality fresh food and healthy food for consumers," she stressed to TASR .