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Berlin Green Week – an exhibition of culinary clichés

Berlin Green Week – an exhibition of culinary clichés

Sausage, cheese and ham – the parade at Berlin’s Green Week presents many clichés – and it clearly should. At the public exhibition of agricultural products, which opened on Friday, some 1,400 exhibitors from 60 countries arrived inside the box of stereotypes: the Dutch build a field of tulips with little bridges – along with huge loaves of cheese – Croats and Poles serve sknaps, Ukrainians chop beets – and the Austrians, just like the Swiss, enticed visitors with sausages, bacon and cheese, together with brass band music and an intensity of costumes which, to put it in the cheek, surpassed only that in the Bayern Hall.

At the same time, Green Week heralds the year of agricultural policy. The dominant theme of the exhibition is climate change and the green transition of agriculture. “This is a topic that has always preoccupied us farmers, but only now because of the energy crisis has it become a broad discussion,” says Nicholas Reitenbacher. Salzburg Farmer runs a cheese dairy with 30 dairy cows and 40 calves as offspring. He struggles with the frugal behavior of the population, who demand cheaper and cheaper dairy products, but do not see the labor and growing operating costs of farmers. “But I don’t see people limiting themselves in other areas, like fuel or vacations. A healthy diet is very important,” says Rittenbacher, who offers his own organic cheese at Green Week.

- © M.  Hirsch
© m. Hirsch

These same questions – related to economic, environmental and social sustainability – are also being asked in Brussels, particularly in view of the security of supply. “There is no food for which I would check all three boxes,” says Wolfgang Pürcher, Director General of Agriculture at the European Union Commission, on the sidelines of the fair.

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Cheese, especially mountain cheese, is an Austrian export that has been exposed to Germany. The balance of foreign trade of agricultural products was uneven in the first three quarters of 2022. Exports of agricultural and food products increased in volume by 1.1 percent during this period, and the increase in value amounted to up to 16.3 percent, or nearly 12 billion euros, but it was That’s because energy, transportation and raw material prices are rising, according to Agrarmarkt Austria (AMA). According to forecasts, the foreign trade deficit will reach 160 million euros. Germany is the most important trading partner, as exports there increased in the previous year by 15 percent to reach 4.36 billion euros.

Green Week was visited at the invitation of the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture.