The Commission has given the green light to 52 new programmes covering a “wide range” of foods, from dairy products and olive oil to fruit, vegetables and meat products. These programmes will be supported by grants, worth €88m, from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy budget.
Announcing the decision, the EC said that the programmes will enable the EU agri-food sector to communicate the quality of its products, with the aim of opening new markets and building market share. The drive focuses on a number of priorities, such as “highlighting the quality of European food”, specific market sectors or specific countries and regions.
The campaigns are largely focused on driving exports of European food products in international markets. Out of the 52 approved programmes, 32 target non-EU countries. Ten are focused specifically on the EU's quality schemes, which include geographical indications such as protected designated origins (PDOs) or protected geographical indications (PGIs), as well as organic certification.
These programmes were submitted by organisations working at member state level. They were then evaluated and rated by the EU's Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA).
In addition to these so-called “simple” programmes, the Commission is in the process of evaluating a further ten “multi” programmes that have been proposed by organisations working at the EU or multinational level with the goal of promoting the European food sector across a variety of different countries and regions. The approval of these programmes, for which a further €45m is available, is expected later in the year.
EU global exports on the up
According to new data released by industry body FoodDrinkEurope, exports of food products from the EU to global markets rose for the seventh consecutive year in 2016.
Exports totalled €102bn in the period, a 4% increase year-on-year. The EU is a net exporter of food and drinks with a positive trade balance of €30.1bn and food imports in 2016 stood at 71.9bn.
“Key export growth markets include China, US, Australia, Norway, Canada and Korea,” FoodDrinkEurope noted. “NAFTA remains by far the EU’s largest trading partner by region, followed by the China region, EFTA, ASEAN, the ACP group of countries and Mercosur.”
While export value has grown, the industry body noted that Europe’s share of global exports has come under pressure in recent years. “While the EU share in global exports has declined over the past decade, it has stabilised in recent years at around 17%,” the trade body revealed.