Impact of COVID-19 on the agri-food sector in Central and Eastern Europe


Impact of COVID-19 on the agri-food sector in Central and Eastern Europe

A research by EIT Food and Deloitte

As COVID-19 shocked every sector of the economy, it also had a major impact on the agri-food industry. It necessitated a comprehensive response to support everyone impacted, but it also accelerated trends that were already developing within this industry.

In collaboration with EIT Food (Europe’s leading food innovation initiative) we have mapped the shock to the food system and the impact that COVID-19 has on farmers, the supply chain, retailers and consumers in Central and Eastern Europe.

COVID-19’s impact on the CCE agri-food sector

Despite its steady growth and relative resilience, the agri-food industry has been negatively impacted by the pandemic. While the shock necessitated a comprehensive response to support those impacted, it also accelerated certain trends that have already been developing within the agri-food industry. Besides the impact, a number of opportunities for a sustainable recovery have been identified across the key sectors within the agri-food industry.

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Opportunities for a sustainable recovery


  • Potential new consumer base due to more individuals preferring local products
  • More direct contact with consumers and higher margins for farmers
    Economics of scale through increased national and regional cooperation

Food Processing 

  • Opportunities for local suppliers to showcase their own products
  • Innovations in the production process to increase resource efficiency and lower environmental impact
  • New and effective transport solutions
  • Chance to establish self-sufficiency within the country or region

Retailers, restaurants, and consumers

  • More informed consumer choices due to growing tendency to prepare food at home and increasing sustainability awareness
  • Higher interest in local retailers and markets resulting in positive effect on margins
  • Growing interest in specialised stores and local restaurants
  • Opportunity for digitalisation – rise of online ordering of ready-made meals or home delivery of food.

Research method

The research is based on quantitative and qualitative analysis including macroeconomic analysis, brainstorming sessions with experts, interviews with academic, business and research partners from 12 countries in the CEE region. This analysis utilises the structural historic and the recent pandemic-related development of the agri-food industry in Central and Eastern Europe in order to identify how agri-food will develop in the future under various exogenous circumstances.

Download the full report

Are you interested to read more and understand the future scenarios, impact and opportunities across the food sector in Central and Eastern Europe? Download the full report from the website of EIT Food: Food Foresight: Impact of COVID-19 on the agri-food sector in Central and Eastern Europe.

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