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  • Author or Editor: Z. Lakner x
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In a period of economic crisis, there is a constantly increasing need to have a general picture on the place and role of different branches in fabrics of modern, open national economies. Based on Leontief’s input-output model, using the unified, structural database of OECD, the article analyses the economic role of the food industry in national economies of OECD member states as well as in economic structure of some important emerging markets by approach of network analysis. Applying this unique combination of a comprehensive database and network analysis methods, it is proven that the centrality of the food industry, determined on the basis of these indicators, is much higher than the average of other sectors of the national economies. This fact can be explained by the specific “bridge” role of the food industry between the different sectors of national economy. Results have proven the importance of the food industry and highlight the necessity of revision of governmental resource-allocation principles for R+D and industrial policy in member-states of the European Union.

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The food safety problem is gaining importance not only in developed “welfare” economies, but also in former socialist countries. The article analyses the attitudes and opinions of Hungarian consumers on problems of food safety, based on a direct question survey, consisting mainly of closed questions. For the majority of Hungarian consumers the food safety issue is a top priority problem. Consumers consider the microbial and hygienic quality of food, food processing and catering as the most important threat for food safety. The elder generations and the women respondents were more worried about food safety problems. In general, respondents with lower qualification level underestimate the importance of food safety problems. In most cases there were no significant differences between the opinion of respondents with at least MSc qualification level in field of human or natural sciences, having no relation to food safety, and the opinion of specialists in food safety. Combining factor and cluster analysis, five main consumer types can be separated from each other from viewpoint of evaluation of various risk factors threatening food safety. These groups can be matched with the social status of respondents. Consumers demand a more rigid official control of food safety, even if this could increase the food price. Most of the consumers accept the modern food preservation methods.

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After the transformation process and privatisation a rather specific dual structure has been formed in the Hungarian food industry: large food industrial enterprises, dominantly in foreign ownership, fulfilling locally the global strategy of the international firm, and micro - and small - scale firms in domestic ownership. The strategic behaviour of Hungarian food industrial firms have been examined by direct-question surveys and interviews. Based on enterprise- and business-level strategy theories, the objective was to create a taxonomy of strategic patterns of Hungarian food industrial firms. On basis of investigations four characteristic groups of small and medium scale enterprises could be separated from each other. The high cost of technology development, the uneven quality and quantity of agricultural raw material, the concentration of food trade organisations are important hindrance factors of development of food industrial enterprises. The small and medium scale enterprises consider the activity of chambers of producers as an important tool in improving their economic position. In opinion of food industrial entrepreneurs the most important factor of success in privatisation was the knowledge of legal loops and good social network. Under these conditions, the promotion of preparation of newly formed small and medium scale enterprises to meet the demands of EU joining is a necessary precondition of success. The multinational food industrial enterprises forming four groups follow diversified strategies. This variability of multinational firms increases the flexibility and competitiveness of the Hungarian food industry.

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The food industry is in the crossfire of increasing pressure of competition, consumer demands, and growing importance of ecological sustainability considerations. Life cycle analysis is one of the most important methods for evaluation of environmental effects of food industrial technologies and packaging systems. During the last decades there have been an intense work to collect pieces of information on different environmental aspects of food packaging systems all over the world, but there is a considerable gap between the amount of knowledge and its practical application in decision making on the level of enterprises as well as in the process of determination of environmental protection fee. Application of modern, freely available software frameworks for life cycle analysis offers a favourable possibility for integration of environmental information into managerial and governmental decision making processes. Based on case studies, the article demonstrates the possibilities of utilisation of cumulative environmental burden indicators as well as expert decision-support systems for optimisation of product-portfolio, based on environmental considerations.

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Sustainable nutrition (SN) considers the environmental impact of food production. This study aims to analyse the relationship between nutrient density and water footprint (WF) of the most consumed food items in Hungary and to create a classification of nutrients. Based on a comprehensive analysis of literature and different data sources, the authors analysed the stochastic relationship between WF and nutrient density of different food items by Spearman's rank correlation. The analysis proved significant (P<0.05) relationship between nutrient density and WF of the most relevant food items in Hungary. Based on the classification, there are nutrients that are overconsumed among the Hungarian population and positively correlate with WF (e.g., cholesterol) and there are nutrients that are under-consumed among the Hungarian population and negatively correlate with WF (e.g., dietary fibres). In general, it can be concluded that the re-structuration of food consumption patterns in Hungary is an important and urgent task, which serves both the public health and ecologic goals. These efforts should be based on a complex evaluation of the problem. This study was one initial step to analyse SN focused on Hungary and further studies are definitely needed.

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Consumption of dietary supplements (DS) has been showing a persistent, rapidly growing tendency all over the world. A new branch has been created on the borderline of food and pharmaceutical industries. It is a general tendency that the policy and regulation towards the products of this branch are lagging far behind the practice. This is an especially important problem with adolescents. To work out an efficient regulatory framework, we have to have an adequate picture on consumer behaviour and attitudes towards these products. Based on literature analysis of two focus group interviews, we have developed a motivational model on usage of DS, which has been tasted during a direct-question survey involving more than 500 respondents. Our results have proven that the consumption of DS is proliferated among young recreational athletes. One quarter of them consumes proteins, one tenth L-carnitine at least 2–3 times a week. The most important motivational factor is the improvement of sport performance. The level of confidence in these products is considerably influenced by peers and trainers. The propensity to underestimate the potentially adverse consequences of these products is high.

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