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Protected meat products in Hungary – local foods and hungaricums

Ágnes Kovács and Gabriella Zsarnóczay


The authors present an overview of the development of Hungarian high quality regional meat products under EU legislation for protection of geographical indications and designation of origin, and conforming to Hungary’s national program – Traditions, Tastes, Regions (TTR, Hungarian abbreviation: HÍR), launched in 1998 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and covering 300 agricultural products from nine regions. After Accession, 11 products were submitted for Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), four of which are meat products. A categorization of Hungarian consumers shows that there is a remarkable heritage of agricultural products and traditional manufacturing methods that offers considerable potential for producers within an increasingly diverse and quality-oriented EU food market.

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1The behaviour of European consumers has been undergoing gradual change. They now require not only much higher dietary, hygienic and health standards in the products they buy, but also look for certification and reassurance of products’ origins and production methods. The quality is of the primary importance. The consumer awareness is reflected in the demand for products with individual characteristics due to specific production methods, composition or origin. Thus in the whole EU, there is a trend of increasing needs for the value added, special, high quality food products. So, new agro-food policy of EU is orientated in this direction. The increased freedom of movement of goods has certainly helped to make available a much wider variety of products from all over Europe, creating also a need for better consumer information. Hungary’s accession to the European Union represents a great challenge for its food industry in both qualitative and also quantitative respects. The challenge can be met with excellent quality products and with products having a special, particular or unique character. In order to improve Hungary’s competitiveness, the use of trademarks and labels indicating geographical specialities and guaranteeing special quality, is becoming extremely important.

Protected food products in Hungary

The Traditions – Tastes – Regions (TTR) Program

2In 1998, in order to join the European Unions Euroterroirs program, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) launched a national project, Traditions, – Tastes – Regions1 (TTR) with the aim to create the collection of Hungarian traditional and regional or local agricultural products and foodstuffs, and to improve their reputation. As a result of this program, the professional and historical description of 300 products has been completed. All foodstuffs produced in a given region with traditional processing methods, associated to a specific geographical region, and having an historical past, were included in the register. The name Traditions – Tastes – Regions and a coloured logo were officially patented as a trade name and trademark by the Hungarian Patents Office.2 Products were classified according to planning regions approved by the EU. According to which divisions, the regions richest in traditional and regional products are South and North Great Plain, with 86 and 58 products of the total 300, respectively. Regional fruits and vegetables form the major group of the collection with 110 products. These typically Hungarian products in particular have the potential to offer an enrichment of the variety of foods on the market European.

3After the EU accession3, Hungary submitted 11 agricultural products to the Commission for the Protected Designation of Origin – PDO and these products are currently under transitional national protection.

Hungarian regional meat products

4There is worth to mention some meat products manufactured in Hungary for the domestic trade, which are made of raw materials originating from indigenous animals like Hungarian Gray Cattle and Mangalitza, in Hungarian, Mangalica. The Hungarian Mangalitza red and blonde swallow-bellied pig has served as a food resource in Hungary for centuries. Nowadays the breeding of these traditional pigs is starting again for the production of traditional products such as Vas Mangalitza dry sausages, Gyula Mangalitza sausage, Gyula Mangalitza chuck, Gyula Mangalitza bacon, Vas Mangalitza liver paté, Vas Mangalitza smoked delicate bacon, Vas Mangalitza lard, Mangalitza Stifolder and Mangalitza paprika thick sausage. The Hungarian Gray Cattle is a typical breed of the Hungarian Great Plains, which fresh spring and summer grass assures healthy fattening. The breed is a very resistant animal that can stand the cold winters and is also resistant to many diseases. Due to extensive grazing, the meat of the Gray Cattle is rich in iron and vitamins. Gray Cattle products that reach the market include cured-cooked beef ham / leg, smoked-cooked beef leg and loin, salami and “Tourist” salami. New markets include catering outlets gearing up for a rise in tourism from west Europe. All tourists are fond of the Hortobágy (Great Plains) geographical beauties rich in local culture and tradition, and especially of the extremely tasteful foods and dishes, which are prepared after old recipes kept from centuries by local inhabitants such as Hortobágy beef stew, beef paprikás, (paprika beef stew), golden beef soup, and Hungarian stew or roast steer.

Table 1: Hungary’s traditional meat products by region

Southern Great Plain region:

Bácska hurka
Csaba sausage
Csaba thick sausage
Hungarian head cheese
Gyula sausage
Goose cracklings
Szeged (or Pick) winter salami
Szeged Paprika sausage and paprika salami
Orosháza goose liver

Northern Great Plain region:

Csécs bacon
Debrecen delicate sausage
Smoked paprika bacon
Vállaj swabian ribbed bacon
Vállaj swabian ham

Northern Hungary

Kassa black or gypsy bacon
Szepes wieners

Southern Transdanubia

Cabbage sausage
Kulen Stifolder thick sausage

Central Hungarian region

Budapest (or Herz) winter salami
Kőrös roast liver paté

Western Transdanubia

Hurka for frying (blood-, liver-, Swabian blood-, Vas hurka)
Sopron sliced ham
Sopron liverwurst
Sopron cold cuts
Peasants ham

5Foods made of indigenous animals are part of Hungary’s national traditional heritage, but the lack of domestic consumer interest is mainly due to the high difference in prices between high quality products and their mass produced equivalents or substitutes. Due to the general globalization, the market supply is continuously changing and expanding, and less expensive products are now more abundant. This difference comes from the less profitable extensive breeding of animals, higher production costs, complicated authorization and licensing processes and difficulties in transportation and distribution of the small quantities of these products. Overall however consumer demand for regional quality products, buoyed by national and international tourism, increases and new rural development strategies also predispose towards the continuation rare breeds of and traditional farm-based products.

6There are however some problems marketing regional food products: small product quantity, no selling network, inadequate hygiene and safety levels, and low advertisement activity. There is a need therefore to enhance the reputation of local products by different marketing organizations, to encourage the formation of producer groups with a personal, national or EU support, and to promote market access, for example through the creation of local or regional clusters (e.g. Slow Food “conviviums”4).

Consumers’ attitude to Hungaricums (Hungarian local, traditional products5)

7The factors which influence the consumers’ selection are usually unconscious and unintentional. The selection is usually based on earlier experiences and accidental expectations, learned habits from parents and grandparents. The Hungarian sense of taste is very conservative and eating habits can hardly be changed. Well-known tastes, smells, texture, and the aversion from new products also influences consumers’ behaviour. The Hungarian consumer usually connects quality with traditional and regional tastes and senses. Hungarian meat products are part of the national heritage and pride. Hungarians feel that it is their duty is to introduce their children to all the special sensory qualities, to keep the traditional and local foods and their quality for the next generation, to improve demands and claims of the new generation. However, local, traditional meat products manufactured of indigenous, home animals constitute just a small part of the domestic Hungarian food market.

8On the other hand, Hungarian consumers are also open to modern or novel foods based on the latest results of food science and biotechnology. Plus, they are often influenced by factors related to environment protection, animal welfare, food-safety, human health, and others. Considering psychological factors determining consumers’ acceptance, four categories can be distinguished:

  •  “Classical” consumers – like to have their food and meals in a usual way, served up as dishes. They are driven by customs and habits.

  •  “Thorough-going” consumers – are searching for sensory properties, variety, labelling, food safety, health and nutrition.

  •  “Imaginative” consumers – are deeply and emotionally devoted to trade-marks. They are interested in sensory properties, traditional quality and values, country or region of origin.

  • A fourth category of consumers is the price dependent. They are influenced by price, sale promotions and advertisements.

9For this study, 800 questionnaires were filled in by Hungarian consumers who were asked about traditional, regional foods, shopping customs, preferences, attitude, and factors. The question: “Which products are considered Hungaricums?” was answered as, ‘traditional manufacturing methods’, ‘special quality’ and ‘origin’. Consumers were also asked to nominate Hungaricum products. Immediately after Tokay old wine, Hungarian salami was the most preferred most preferred Hungaricum, followed by paprika. Taken overall (all nominated Hungaricums), the relative incidence for Tokay old wine was highest, but Hungarian Gray cattle and Mangalitza were also mentioned (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Often mentioned Hungaricums - Les «Hungaricums» souvent mentionnés

Figure 1: Often mentioned Hungaricums - Les «Hungaricums» souvent mentionnés

10The factors of major importance, which determine the Hungarian consumers’ product selection, were taste and quality, whilst price was the least mentioned factor when thinking about regional and traditional food products (Figure 2).

Graph 2: Factors which influence consumers’ preferences regarding Hungaricums - Facteurs influençant la préférence des consommateurs en ce qui concerne les «Hungaricums»

Graph 2: Factors which influence consumers’ preferences regarding Hungaricums - Facteurs influençant la préférence des consommateurs en ce qui concerne les «Hungaricums»


11A long time ago, Ancient Greeks and Romans called wines, olives, olive-oils, cheeses, fishes, meat products, and fruits after the names of the region of origin, as a form of recognition of a special quality based on local manufacturing methods found in certain territories, allowing regions to differentiate by quality. These were the first ‘designations of origin’ and ‘geographical indications’. Fortunately, the EU quality policy is aware of the diversity of European culture and supports certain agricultural products and foods known by the regions where they have been produced for generations. Hungary possesses a great heritage of agricultural products and foodstuffs with old local traditions and methods. Protecting these origins and traditions is a way of giving perspective to future generations.

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BELLON, T., and KÚTVÖLGYI, M. 2001. Megőrzött ízek. A Magyar szürkemarha, Timp Kiadó, Budapest, 87p.

EOQ – MNB 2006. EU Community Conference, Debrecen, Hungary.

FVM AMC 2001. Hagyományok – Ízek – Régiók. Magyarország hagyományos és tájjellegű mezőgazdasági és élelmiszer-ipari termékeinek gyűjteménye Vol. I 415p; Vol. II 365p. Kesztler Marketing Kiadó, Budapest.

HAJDÚ, I., and NÓTÁRI, M. 2006. “A hagyományos Magyar termékek fogyasztói megítélésének primer vizsgálata.” Élelmezési Ipar, LX 5: 147-150.

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1 Hagyományok – Ízek – Régiók – HÍR
2 The proprietor of the HÍR trademark is the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and the Agro Marketing Centre (AMC) is authorized for using the trademark.
3 In Hungary one product, the “soda water” obtained the national trademark Traditionalism and Specificity Guaranteed (TSG) before the EU accession. The bakery products, special chocolates and sweets, confectionery and noodles have a chance to obtain the EU TSG label in the future.
4 The local organisational structure of the Slow Food movement. There are already six Slow Food Conviviums in Hungary with local products like Hungarian Gray cattle, Racka sheep, Bronze turkey, Debrecen paired sausage, Goulash (beef stew), and Cívis Convivium Debrecen (meals of herdsmen).
5 When we talk about special Hungarian regional products, we use the word “Hungaricum” including not only foods but also other products made by famous Hungarian companies or persons, such as Rubic’s cube, Biro’s pen, porcelain of Herend and others.
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List of illustrations

Title Figure 1: Often mentioned Hungaricums - Les «Hungaricums» souvent mentionnés
File image/jpeg, 16k
Title Graph 2: Factors which influence consumers’ preferences regarding Hungaricums - Facteurs influençant la préférence des consommateurs en ce qui concerne les «Hungaricums»
File image/jpeg, 16k
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Electronic reference

Ágnes Kovács and Gabriella Zsarnóczay, « Protected meat products in Hungary – local foods and hungaricums », Anthropology of food [Online], S2 | March 2007, Online since 01 June 2007, connection on 22 June 2018. URL :

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About the authors

Ágnes Kovács

Hungarian Meat Research Institute, Budapest, Hungary

Gabriella Zsarnóczay

Hungarian Meat Research Institute, Budapest, Hungary

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Licence Creative Commons
Anthropologie of food est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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