Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Croatia Will Have Enough Food, Agriculture Minister Says

ZAGREB, 9 March 2022 - Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković said on Wednesday the government would do all that was necessary to contribute to citizens' food security and that Croatia would have enough food, despite disrupted international commodity trends due to the war in Ukraine.

Responding to questions from the press after a cabinet session, she said the government was considering various models to ensure the necessary supplies.

"Croatia will also do everything that is necessary to enable farmers and fishermen to work", she said, adding that today the government adopted decisions to aid farmers and fishermen and to procure HRK 594.6 million worth of strategic commodities.

Asked what those commodities were, she said it was necessary to procure corn, wheat, pork and turkey meat, oil and milk.

Farmers did a good autumn sowing despite the difficulties they ae exposed to, she said, adding that preparations for the spring sowing are going well and that preparations are being made for the autumn sowing. "That's a guarantee that Croatia will have enough food."

However, it is necessary to take this seriously given that Ukraine and Russia export more than 25% of the world's wheat, almost 20% of corn and 50% of sunflower oil, the minister said.

Reporters asked her how much of that Croatia produced, how much it would need, and guarantees that what was produced would not be bought by others.

Vučković said last year's wheat balance was 930,000 tonnes, where more than 500,000 tonnes was exported and 210,000 spent.

"We need 150,000 tonnes until the next sowing, a smaller part is available on the market, but commodity stockpiles are being ensured", she said, adding that trade has been affected by supply disruptions.

Croatia is very active internationally, proposing many measures to the European Commission, she said, confident that some of them will be adopted.

At the closing of today's session, the government adopted a decision to replenish strategic wheat, corn and rye supplies.

For more on Croatia's food security, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 28 January 2022

Food Expensive Also Due to High Trade Margins

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - Food prices in Croatia in December 2021 continued their growth that had started in July, and year-on-year they were as much as 8.1% higher, while the inflation rate was 5.5%, the highest since October 2008, when it stood at 5.9%, Večernji List says, noting that food is also expensive due to high trade margins.

At the EU level, the price of food, alcoholic beverages and tobacco was only 3.2% higher in December and inflation was 5%, which some analysts justify with a slower first wave of price growth in Croatia while in the wealthier countries, they say, prices grew at a faster rate initially.

Prices started soaring in Croatia only in the past few months, and for some products, such as cooking oil, they went up by more than 20%, which is now also happening in other EU markets with lower living standards such as the Czech Republic and Hungary, the daily says.

Croatia has never been a cheap country, notably when it comes to food, telecommunications services, various technical goods and the like, and this can also be attributed to high trade margins, says the daily.

Tax expert Vlado Brkanić has calculated that since 2010 four retail chains in Croatia have almost doubled their trade margins. In 2010 most trade margins were around 17% and in 2015 they were above 30%.

Some sector stakeholders say that high trade margins are also due to high logistic costs considering the high seasonality of some Croatian regions during several months of the tourism season. However, Martin Evačić, CEO of the NTL retail chain, who heads the retail sector of the Croatian Employers Association, claims the average trade margin in the EU is above 32% while in Croatia it is below 25%.

As for food prices, Evačić says that they are still not following producer prices that are changing on a daily basis, noting that he expects state assistance in that regard, whether through VAT reduction or abolishment, freezing prices of basic foodstuffs or vouchers, which is what some poorer EU countries are already doing, says the daily.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Štrudlafest 2021: Croatian Strudel Festival Returns

September 2, 2021 - Štrudlafest 2021 lifts the bar of the already known Croatian strudel festival in Jaškovo village near Karlovac. More sport, more workshops, and obviously, more strudel.

With the pandemic dying down just enough for events to be allowed to be held (while still respecting the current epidemiological measures) Štrudlafest in Jaškovo village near Karlovac is back! With the motto: ''It can't get sweeter than this,'' the event spanning September 3-5 is promising a delicious and unique combo of gastronomy, sport, culture, art, and lots of entertainment for all ages.

''Štrudlafest is a true paradise for strudel lovers because apart from the delicious tastes of homemade strudel you can purchase from dozens of stands of hard-working domestic manufacturers - strudel is everywhere around you. You'll have the chance to enjoy a picnic in the shade next to the water source, but also enjoy creative workshops where you can decorate your own strudle plate,'' said the organisation when speaking about this Croatian strudel festival.

Due to the current epidemiological measures in place, many events require prior reservations, but with so many events finally taking place once again, there's no reason to be sad if you miss a few of them.

For instance, there is Art Apetit, a painting workshop, and for those who want to dive deep into the secrets of making the perfect strudel, official ambassadors of this much loved product will be able to consult with you to ensure total satisfaction.

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Marica, a strudle Ambassador © Štrudlafest promo

For the youngest among us, the series of sport, gastronomy, or creative workshop activities will be topped off by a visit from the most famous Croatian fairy tale author, Ivana Brlić Mažuranić.

With a lot of talking done about strudel and sport, the traditional cycling tour ''Štrudla by Bike'' will also take place, and in addition to pedaling your way to the breath-taking scenery of continental Croatia, you can also take a scenic trip along the Dobra river with the first-ever ''Štrudla by Boat''.

The organisers point out that in addition to Jaškovo, strudels can be sampled across Karlovac County with special discounts, and various museums in the region also have special gifts for their visitors to honour this popular treat.

Learn more about Karlovac on our TC page.

For more about food in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

"Proven Quality - Croatia" Label Soon to be Introduced for Local Food Products

ZAGREB, 19 Aug, 2021 - The agriculture ministry strongly supports fruit growers in efforts to cut production costs and standardise their products and thus boost their competitiveness, which is why the ministry will soon kick off a system of awarding the "Proven Quality - Croatia" label, the ministry said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Minister Marija Vučković and other officials held a meeting with fruit growers  to inform them of the national system designed by the ministry for awarding the above-mentioned label to food products that meet certain requirements. The national system of evaluation of the quality of food products intends to improve competitiveness of local agricultural produce and food products and intensify their promotion.

This will be conducive to better recognisability of those products in retail chains, according to the ministry.

The ministry notes that the reforms as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisage the establishment of a logistical infrastructure in fruit and vegetable production and the construction of logistics and distribution centres for fruits and vegetables.

The Croatian Fruit Growing Association assesses that in 2021, the production of apples will reach 65,000 tonnes, the ministry said in a press release, among other things.

The apple export has jumped by 71% year-to-date in comparison to the corresponding period of 2020, while import has increased by 3..2%.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Hvar Town Budget Restaurants: Yes, They're Real

August 16, 2021 - Finding himself in a luxury destination with a not so luxurious budget, TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac avoided starvation by locating Hvar Town budget restaurants. Here are his suggestions. 

The words ''cheap price'' are very relative. It's much easier to determine a high price but what qualifies as actually cheap is a much tougher question. In that spirit, Hvar Town, known as one of the more popular and therefore more expensive destinations, lives up to its reputation. Last week, the Croatian media landscape was stunned by the bill issued at one of Hvar's elite clubs. The undoubtebly fun night that featured loads of high-quality beverages such as four 4,800 kuna worth bottles of Don Julio tequila reached the total amount of 99,154 kuna.

A one night spending spree on that level is downright impossible from journalist's income.

So, for the week in Hvar, it was convenient for my paycheck to serve both to feed my stomach after a relaxing day of SCS (swimming, chilling, and sightseeing), and in the meantime, why not inform the public on Hvar Town budget restaurants. Again, ''cheap eats'' may be a hard to define term, but here are some solutions which will nevertheless see you well fed for a little over 200 kuna. Three restaurants after which you don't have to file for bankruptcy, but you'll still have an enjoyable and quite the in-style dining experience. Why only three, you may ask? Well, I can't confirm these are indeed the only three options, but, well, there was sort of a limited budget involved in the research.

1.) Alviž

With a bus not really being the top of the list of options for the high class, it's convenient that one on-budget restaurant is located right at the Hvar Town bus station. From the outside, Alviž looks like some small diner where you might have to bump into other guests crowded into a small place as you munch on wooden tables and chairs. You might feel hesitant to come in, but one look at the menu that promises delicious meals at much more affordable prices makes it worth visiting. Once inside, you realise that the space is actually luxurious as you're taken to the backyard with a real Dalmatian ambiance. Wooden tables underneath brick rooftops and wooden ledges make way for wine, and you are in for a fantastic dining experience. The red and white wine options are fantastically refreshing, but sadly, the beer options are scarce. The food is served quickly and cooked to perfection. You can find a variety of dishes for under 150 kuna, but as the sides are purchased separately and you need to add the drink, you're in for bill of just over 200 kuna usually. Tested and recommended: Fried squid and four types of cheese pizza. Sadly, the fried squid would have gone well the traditional Dalmatian blitva (chard), but one minus to the venue is that you can't order it as a separate side-dish. Still, the squid and fries go together very well.

 

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Fried squid and four types of cheese pizza © Nina Lelas

2.) Villa Dinka

Here's another restaurant with a strong Dalmatian vibe squeezed in between the Amfora and Pharos hotels. This time, there are no wine grapes growing above you, and it looks a bit more formal, but it is nevertheless a cozy place to dine with a stunning view of the Adriatic and the Paklenski islands to trigger your appetite. Again, the sides must be ordered additionally, but along with one drink, the bill doesn't hit higher than a little over 200 kuna. When dining with one more person, meat platas for two are definitely the best bet for meat lovers in Croatia to both get full and to save money. Villa Dinka is no exception to that rule, but they upped their game and topped the usual meat offer of Čevapi, shish kebab and steaks by also adding lamb chops and beefsteak. A delicious upgrade!

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Meat plata from Villa Dinka © Nina Lelas

3.) Đordota Vartal

Not too far from the Franciscan Monastery, Đordota Varta seems to have been crowned as the best on-budget restaurant in all of Hvar Town. The restaurant was completely filled, but people were persistent in waiting in line, hoping to get some food. Once inside, you could see why. Another typical Dalmatian restaurant, with the craftsmanship of Dalmatia being the leading theme as the restaurant is decorated with saws and other tools people on Hvar used in the past. The dishes are accompanied by sides, but you can order more if needed. The tuna steak is absolutely divine, with big portions cooked to perfection, perhaps one of the best-grilled tuna steak's I've had in all of Croatia. For meat lovers, the satisfactorily filled portion of the traditional Dalmatian Pašticada with gnocchi is a must. The beer and wine selection were alright, but not very memorable thanks to the restaurant's short but well-executed cocktail list, with 50-60 kuna per cocktail it obviously isn't the cheaper thrill to get, but these prices are quite standard for coastal Croatia and more accessible than many drinks from other cocktail bars Hvar has to offer. One sip of that delicious pina colada pays up a triple in pleasure.

If you're too hungry to remember to reserve your table and you're also too hungry to wait for the aforementioned goodies, you can also opt for the restaurant's beach terrace. Sadly, over there, you can only order pizza, but the dedication of the staff will nonetheless make sure that pizza, while affordable, is next level compared to your usual experience.

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Delicious Pašticada and tuna steak © Nina Lelas

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about traveling Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Cultural Identity of Vukovar: New Book Presented in Vukovar

June 9, 2021 - The fascinating question of the Cultural Identity of Vukovar is researched in a new book edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez. However, as the editors stressed in the introduction, further research is needed to encompass all social groups in Vukovar and their contribution to the heritage of Vukovar.

After being published back in April this year, the book „Cultural Identity of Vukovar – Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors“, was presented this Wednesday in Vukovar. As Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute writes on its website the book was published in cooperation with the Vukovar State Archive, so it was only suitable that the first book presentation was held in Vukovar at the videoconference hall of College Of Applied Sciences „Lavoslav Ružička“ (named after a famous Croatian chemist whose work is awarded a Nobel Prize). In addition, the event marked International Archive Day.

The book was edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez, and the presentation, alongside editors, saw scientific experts Dr. Dražen Živić, Mirela Hutinec, and Dr. Domagoj Tomas talks about the book.

„Fast events triggered by globalization process and information revolution which paradoxically lead to today's societies being fiercely occupied with the meaning of past, and preserving its valuable traces. In that context, there is a spreading interest for heritage that holds an important component to understand the relationship between the past and present“, says the editorial introduction of the book.

The editors went on to explain how „the city proved to be futile to interpret the meaning of heritage and its contribution to cultural identity,“ and the editors wanted to present various aspects of Vukovar's cultural heritage.

Apart from editors Žanić (who wrote a chapter „Layers of memories and material heritage in modern-day Vukovar) and Elez (author of the chapter „State archive in Vukovar and development of archive service in Vukovar-Srijem County“), the book features eight more authors. Ivan Rogić (Whose Heritage? Who is the successor?), Dražen Živić (on Vukovar's feudalists), Vlasta Novinc („Danube, food, Corso“), Dragana Drašković (on the cultural life of Borovo Selo), and more by Dragan Damjanović, Toni Roca, Ivana Bendra and Ivan Hubalek.

With these broad presentations of culture and heritage in Vukovar, editors hope this book will encourage further research as they are aware this is certainly not the final word on these interesting questions and issues.

„As editors, we are aware that the book does not deal with topics that concern different social groups that left their trace in Vukovar end enrich the history of the city. We hope that future editions that will deal with this topic expand the reach of issues and help us to realize better what do we inherit from the past and why is that important“, concludes the introduction of the book.

So far, the book is available only in Croatian, and research that will, as editors say, deal with other social groups in Vukovar is yet to come. Keeping in mind the terrible aftermaths of the war in Vukovar in the 90s and inter-ethnic tensions, further findings on joint cultural contribution to Vukovar may indeed be the enlightenment needed for peaceful cohabitation and development of Vukovar as a perspective city in Croatia.

Speaking of heritage, learn more about UNESCO recognized heritage in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Lošinj Gastro Weekend 2021: Local Culinary Spectacle Throughout May

April 28, 2021 - Starting this weekend, the Lošinj Gastro Weekend 2021 prepares a real treat to the visitors of 14 restaurants on the island.

A beautiful island setting of Lošinj, and delicious food next to the Adriatic - all a regular feature of the annual gastro weekend which starts this week and continues until the end of May.

As Losinj Tourist Board website VisitLosinj.hr announces, fourteen restaurants from Osor all the way to Mali Lošinj will each weekend have a special offer based on a specific product.

Starting with this Friday, April 30 to Sunday, May 2, the restaurants will have lamb specialties in which the local meat will be offered to satisfy your taste buds.

The next is asparagus weekend (May 7-9), followed by fish dishes (May 14-16), Medditaranian herbs dishes (May 21-23), and finally the Antic cuisine (May 28-30).
Artatore, Baracuda, Bocca Vera, Bora bar, Borik Mediterranean Bar, Deveron, Diana Steakhouse, Eki, Lanterna Grill Mare, Silvana, Silver Bay Televrin, and Veli žal are the restaurants.
Turizmoteka.hr also covered the story and warned readers to reserve their place in the restaurants to enjoy this lovely culinary spectacle.

„In these moments, the cooperation between every actor in the destination is extremely important to overcome the negative effect of corona crisis as fast as possible. This festival is an ideal opportunity for visitors to meet Lošinj through local specialties. Come and enjoy!“, said Mali Lošinj mayor Ana Kučić, writes Turizmoteka.

"It is our wish to bring our guests almost all gastronomy pleasures the Island of Vitality is known for“, said Dalibor Cvitković, president of Lošinj Tourist Board, referring to the island's nickname.

Learn more about Croatian islands on our TC page.

For more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Touch of Baranja Photo Exhibition in Zagreb Until End of April

April 21, 2021 - A Touch of Baranja showcases 20 photos of the Baranja region to promote this rich natural and cultural site to both domestic and foreign visitors.

If you want to experience a touch of Baranja, but you're stuck in Zagreb, the city's Flower square (Cvjetni trg) offers you a compromise.  

Dodir baRAnJe (A Touch of Baranja), an outdoor photo exhibition that will remain open until the end of April, highlights 20 photos of beautiful Baranja.

''A picture says a thousand words, so this is how we decided to present the beauty of Baranja and motivate Zagreb's citizens and their guests to visit the region located between the Danube and Drava rivers next to the border with Hungary to have a proper break,'' says the website of the Baranja Tourist Board.

The Tourist Board, along with Tourist Boards of Draž and Bilje-Kopački Rit hosted the event.

Nenad Milić, Dubravko Franjin, Romulić&Stojčić Studio, Mario Đurkić, and Zvonimir Janković are the photographers whose work is being featured in the exhibition. Below every photo, there is a QR code that offers an explanation of the photo both in English and Croatian, and in the evening, the photos are illuminated by solar power collected during the day.

As written by the Explore Croatia site, Baranja is special for its display of multiculturalism of the people who live there and who have previously passed through the territory. Tradition and cultural heritage in the area have survived the challenges of time, and nowhere is that more visible than in Baranja's cuisine.

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© Visit Baranja 

''Baranja continues to remain a special destination which will tell the traveller various stories about tradition, family, life secrets, love, death, wines, hot peppers, specific fishing, weddings…“, explains the Explore Croatia site.

Baranja also offers the richness of nature as it is surrounded by rivers and the Kopački Rit swamp and bird reserve that is home to a wide and impressive variety of animals and plants, representing a real treat for the dedicated traveller.

When in Baranja, make sure to try the delicious Fiš Paprikaš, Baranja's own local Kulen recipe, and carp prepared in a delicious way only Baranja knows how to do.

Learn more about Croatia's food on our TC page

For more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Croatia's Food 2nd Most Expensive in EU by Wage: Health Implications?

January 13, 2021 – Only in Romania are they so poor that they spend more of their income on food than here. In a country famous for its premium produce, what is the price on the health when Croatia's food is so incredibly expensive?

Croatia's food is the second most expensive in Europe when judged next to average household income. Only in Romania do people spend a larger percentage of their monthly wage on food and non-alcoholic drinks. In the EU, the average household spends on food takes up 7% of their earnings. In Croatia, it is almost double that amount – 13%. That the average monthly wage in Croatia is a third lower than the EU average accounts for some of this disparity. Though the other reason is simply that Croatia's food is really, really expensive.

“I couldn't believe it when I saw the prices of food after I got to England,” Split-based nutritionist Iva Tokić tells TCN. Having studied for her Bachelor's degree in nutrition at the University in Split, she transferred to Oxford Brookes University in England where she earned her Master's degree in the subject. “I expected food to be much more expensive, because life, in general, is so much more expensive in the UK than it is here. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the prices of the UK's food are almost exactly the same as Croatia's food, except that in England some things like avocado, salmon (losos) and smoked salmon is so much cheaper than it is in Croatia. Insane!”

IvaTotic.jpgIva Tokić, who has her own independent practice as a nutritionist and works as a nutritional educator and consultant for other polyclinics and sports professionals back in her hometown of Split. She has a Master's degree in nutrition

Food shopping in the UK is a very different experience to that in Croatia. You would struggle to understand fully just how different it is unless you'd actually done both. There simply isn't enough farmland in the UK to feed all of its inhabitants. Most food is imported. Where in Croatia, you can still experience the authentic experience of eating a varied diet based on the seasons, in the UK that simply doesn't exist. Everything is in season somewhere in the world. And that's where they'll take it from. Everything is available. All of the time.

What the UK loses in this set-up - seasonal eating and the varied diet this creates – it makes up for with the offer available and price. Food and flavours from all over the world can be bought in any of the competing supermarkets. International cuisine is incredibly popular. And, just as the supermarkets compete to lower prices, so do producers – it isn't only salmon and avocado that is cheaper in the UK.

The lamb produced in the lush, green hills of Wales or on the moors of northern England and southern Scotland is comparable in extremely high quality to the very best you could buy from Pag or anywhere else in Croatia. Except in the UK, the animals' diets are unrestricted – the lambs grow much bigger. Though much of this premium product is exported (British lamb is a highly prized delicacy across much of western Europe, particularly France), a lot of it is still sold in the UK. Its price is kept down by huge amounts of imported New Zealand lamb which competes against the domestic lamb in price. In Croatia, lamb is an expensive treat – in the UK, it's an everyday meat. And it is much cheaper than it is in Croatia.

abstract-1238657_1920.jpgAlthough the lamb meat produced in the UK is of comparable quality to that produced in Croatia, the meats form a very different part of the diet in the two countries. In Croatia, lamb is an expensive treat. In the UK, lamb is much cheaper and viewed as an everyday meal

Within this one example we can sharply see the disparity between the premium food produced in Croatia and the general diet of the everyday citizen. Croatia is now known well for its cuisine and produce. TCN was pleased to report over recent weeks the success of food and agricultural exports from Croatia. However, the finest prsut, olive oil, seabass (brancin), bream (orada) and red wine for which Croatia is famous do not make up standard everyday Croatian meal. These luxuries are often exported. Pasteta (meat paste) on bread and cheap wine made palatable with cola are more likely to be the elements of Croatia's food found in any student kitchen in the country.

mlinar-pekara-interijer_l.jpgThe pekara (bakery) is a fast, inexpensive and very popular choice for both breakfast and lunch in Croatia, but is it the healthiest thing to eat every day? © Mlinar

“We really don't eat enough fish. It's so disappointing because we live right next to the sea!” says Iva, who now works in her own independent practice, and as a nutritional educator and consultant back in her hometown of Split. “But, we don't eat enough of it because it's way too expensive for a lot of us to eat regularly. We also don't eat enough vegetables and fruit. We eat meat. We eat a lot of meat. We eat a lot of pekara (bakery) too. It's often the cheapest and the most convenient. If you want to save money and grab something fast, get breakfast in pekara. Students and older people in particular, they all eat in pekara. That's not good because that food is high in trans fatty acids and saturated fats. Saturated fats are a problem because it's a big cause of cardiovascular disease. Too much meat and pekara, not enough fish, fruit and vegetables – those are definitely the biggest problems with the Croatian diet.”

seafood-3248701_1920.jpg"Per capita consumption of fish and seafood in Croatia is estimated at 8 kg. Total consumption of fish and fish products per capita is significantly lower than in other Mediterranean countries. Fish is consumed mostly at home, traditionally once a week (on Friday) and during some holidays. The consumption of fish is higher in coastal areas than inland. Most fish is sold at traditional fish markets where the availability and freshness of fish products is considered very good. Only 3% of Croatia’s population eat fish every day, with the average person spending just 840 kuna (110 euros) a year on fish. In Croatia the most popular fish eaten are the cheaper varieties such as sardines and anchovies, followed by hake, mackerel and bonito. Croatia exports a big part of its quality fresh fish from the Adriatic, such as scampi and red mullet, whilst restaurants along the coast will often serve farmed fish or cheaper imported varieties." December 2016 Flanders investment and trade market survey of the Croatian Fishing sector, undertaken by the Trade Office of the Embassy of Belgium

The problems of the diet created by Croatia's food habits have been observed for quite some time. And, according to the 2020 Global Nutrition Report, they are not getting better. Another report, one on childhood obesity published in just 2018 by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, stated that “every third child, i.e. 34.9% is overweight or obese. There are more overweight (21.5%) than obese (17.2%) boys. 67.3% of girls have a normal body mass index, 20.3% are overweight and 10.7% obese.” These figures are not improving, despite physical education being mandatory in Croatian schools.

“Everyone that comes to see me, everyone that seeks the help of a nutritionist, they all have high cholesterol levels, history of heart disease or they are obese,” says Iva. “The last one is becoming more of a problem. One third of children in Croatia are now obese. It's really quite pronounced. If you look at the statistics, obesity has actually been decreasing over recent years in developed countries. But, in Croatia, it is increasing.”

“Here, you can see the difference clearly between the UK and Croatia. In the UK, obesity was recognised as an issue and you can see the response throughout society. In the UK, you have taxes on sugary drinks. We don't have that here. The price of fruit and vegetables in the UK has actually been decreasing in recent years compared to average income. Here, it has only increased. At the supermarket checkout in the UK, it is now forbidden to have those tempting large racks advertising chocolates. From this year, that marketing is banned there, in the same way that advertising tobacco products is banned. Everything from the politics and the law to the school system is engaged in addressing the issue. We are not so much a developed country like the UK, so there is little promotion of physical activity here and no wider engagement of the issue. In the UK you even see signs suggesting “Why not takes the stairs instead of the elevator?” There's an effort to make everyone in society conscious of the issue.”

For a country famous for its international sports stars and the beach bodies that visitors see on the coast every summer, who would have thought that beneath the surface, Croatia's food and exercise habits were creating such a problem for the population? However, while a lack of exercise can be attributed to poor education and motivation, it is clear that economics has a significant impact on Croatia's food intake. In many cases, the poorer you are, the poorer you eat.

Slavoniagarden.jpgWhile eastern Croatia contains some of the country's economically weakest areas, many residents of Slavonia have land beside their houses where they grow vegetables, fruits and nuts. Despite this, they are still over-reliant on pork meat © Croatian National Tourist Board

“In the more rural parts of our country, they eat much more seasonal fruits and vegetables,” says Iva. “They eat more vegetables in general – they grow it themselves and eat what they grow. Although, in many rural areas, there is still an over-reliance on meat. Especially the cheapest meat – pork.”

A 2008 study called Regional Differences in Dietary Habits of Adult Croatian Population conducted by researchers at the Andrija Stampar School of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb concluded that the people in the poorest areas of Croatia had the poorest diets. Those regions were central Croatia and eastern Croatia (Slavonia).

Screenshot (114).pngCroatia's food. A map showing the unhealthiest Croatian diets by region, produced for a study undertaken by researchers from the Andrija Stampar School of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb. People who live in the poorest regions - central and eastern Croatia - have the least healthy diets. The diet of those who live in Zagreb, which has the country's highest wages, is very good

In these regions of higher unemployment and lower opportunities, people relied more heavily on a diet of red meat, preserved meats and smoked meats than anywhere else in the country. They also used more butter, pork lard and other kinds of animal fat in food preparation and more salt. While tradition and geographical location do play a part in forming these menus, it is incredibly naive to think that economics is not the key factor – there are river fish available all over Slavonia. This is not simply a question of a healthy Mediterranean diet in comparison to an unhealthy continental one – the City of Zagreb was shown in the study to consume an incredibly healthy diet of Croatia's food. The reason? It may be continental, but it has the highest wages in the country.

cevap.jpgThe Croatian diet is heavily reliant on unhealthy pork meat. Unless you go to a specialist or high-quality outlet, you will find cheap pork meat in almost every mixed/minced meat dish - in cevapi, in lasagne, in bakery snacks, in beefburgers and cheeseburgers (yes, really, they put pork their burgers - sometimes you can even find cheap chicken meat mixed into Croatian burgers. True story) and even in the mixed kebab meat. They preserve pork as the highly prized prsut/prosciutto, in sausages like kobasica and kulen, eat the pig's blood in a sausage called krvavica and fry the pig rind to make a crunchy but hardly healthy snack called cvarci. Croatia also has the best bacon in the world.

“Sometimes the most difficult obstacle to good health facing those here who really need to change their diet is the cost of Croatia's food,” agrees Iva. “It's easy to say “you must eat more fish, fruit and vegetables”, but it's not always easy to do. Many people simply can't afford it. So, what I try to do in those cases is to look for the cheapest foods available which are still the right options. For example, sardines here are really not so expensive. They are high in Vitamin D and Omega 3, which is very important for cardiovascular health. I also recommend eggs, which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D. I recommend changing to milk and cheese which have a lower fat content. You can find good food which is not that expensive. You might have to search, but you can find it. I recommend people to go and see what is in the discount section. There are lots of us looking to address these problems. On the Instagram page of different.hr each week they advertise what foods are on discount in every Croatian supermarket. That's a really useful resource. It's also great to grow something of your own. You don't need a huge Slavonian back garden to do it – you can even grow some things just on your balcony.”

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Croatia Agriculture and Food Exports Jump in 2020, Imports Fall

December 19, 2020 – A surprising success story in a difficult year as Croatia agriculture and food exports jump in 2020, while imports of the same have fallen

Good news from any place is welcome in this most difficult of years. According to provisional data from the country's Central Bureau of Statistics, the total value of Croatia agriculture and food exports in the period from January to September 2020 amounted to 1.7 billion Euros, an increase of 5 percent from the same period in 2019. Within the same period, the value of agricultural and food imports into Croatia was 2.5 billion Euros, a decline of 7.3 percent from last year.

The success of Croatia agriculture and food exports in the period means that the country's trade deficit has decreased by huge 26.6 percent compared to the same period last year. With this year's findings taken into account, the trade deficit now stands at 758.8 million Euros.

fieldsromi2.jpg© Romulić & Stojčić

Croatia agriculture and food exports covered 69 percent of total imports this year, an increase of 8.11 percent. A total of 15.86 percent of all exports from the country come from the Croatia agriculture and food exports sector.

The most important item of production within the sector is corn, which accounts for 5.4 percent of all Croatia agriculture and food exports.

From January to September 2020, the most significant products in exports were: cereals (205.4 million Euros – a growth of a huge 62.6 million Euros); various food products (168.1 million Euros – including manufactured/processed foods like sauces, soups, ice cream, sugar products); fish and other seafood (a huge 147.4 million Euros – showing a growth of 14.5 million Euros); cereals, flour, starch or milk products; confectionery products, including chocolate (135.9 million Euros – a growth of 13.8 million Euros), and tobacco-related products (122.6 million Euros). TCN recently took a closer look at the successful and well-established Croatian chocolate industry

Other successes within 2020 Croatia agriculture and food exports were live animals, with an increase of 10.1 million Euros, and the residue and waste of the food industry, which is exported to go into prepared animal foods. The latter saw an increase of 8.6 million Euros.

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So far this year, Italy was one of the most important destinations for Croatia agriculture and food exports. Their total consumption of Croatia agriculture and food exports was 300.8 million Euros, which amounts to 17.76 percent of Croatia's exports in the sector. Croatia agriculture and food exports to Italy increased by 21.9 percent this year, while imports from Italy to Croatia in the same period was 263 million Euros, a decrease of 16.6 percent on 2019. This creates a surplus of 37.6 million Euros.

The most important Croatia agriculture and food exports to Italy are maize, wheat and soybeans, tobacco-related products, sea bass (brancin) and bream (orada).

For the last five years, Croatia agriculture and food exports top consumer has been Germany. For the past seven years, Germany has also been the country from which Croatia has imported the most.

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