EU food and drink trade growing – but could be better
A report by the trade association showed that the positive trade balance in food and drink products increased by a healthy 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2014 on the same period a year earlier. And the quarterly trade figures reached a surplus of €7.1bn, an increase of more than €0.5bn year-on-year.
The production of most member states was higher compared to the previous quarter expect for a few countries including Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
“The overall performance has been quite good considering the trends of export and the fact that employment is stable,” said Evelyne Dollet deputy director of Economic Affairs at FDE.
“Production could have increased a bit more but some member states, such as Portugal which may still be in economic crisis, which could have led to a low evolution of production.”
The sectors that saw an increase included meat, grain mill and starch, and bakery products, said the report.
Import versus exports
The total food and drink imports amounted to €17.8bn in Q4 of 2014, 3.6% higher compared to the previous year, with a reduction in quantity as well as value only in the fruit and vegetable sector.
Exports on the other hand, saw a 4.9% increase to €25bn in Q4, on the same period in 2013. EU export volumes went up 8.5% in the fourth quarter, the report added.
Positive year-on-year export growth rates in terms of value were registered for grain mill and starch products (14.9%), oils and fats (9.1%), fruit and vegetables (7.6%) and meat products (5%).
“Employment was also stable, which is always a good thing as we are in the final stage of economic downturn,” said Dollet.
EU’s shrinking market share
According to a previous report by FDE, the EU share of global food and drink exports in 2002 had been 20.5%, but it fell to 16.1% in 2012.
Dollet added that though FDE is yet to release its latest figures, the organisation has been active in trying to improve the competitiveness of the entire food and drink sector. In relation to the High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain, set up by the European Commission to improve the competitiveness of the agro-food industry in cooperation with stakeholders, she said: "We welcome the informal decision to renew it and are waiting for its publication."
Last year, FDE has also published a report urging European institutions to develop a policy specifically tailored to the food industry as well as urge the Greek European Commission to back industry-specific policy.