European Union agricultural and food exports hit reached €137.9bn in 2017.
Member states saw “major gains” in the annual value of exports to Russia in particular, which increased by 16%, equivalent to €892m.
There were also strong advances made in several Asian markets, such as Japan, which imported 11% more European food products compared to 2016, an increase worth €645m, and Korea with 13%, worth €341m. Exports to China increased by 5%, equivalent to €591m.
However, 2017 export values remained down for North African and Middle Eastern destinations. This was mainly due to fewer exports in cereals, the Commission said.
This was particularly true for exports to Egypt, which fell by one quarter (25%), albeit from a low base, meaning the decrease was worth €0.448m.
Agri-food exports to Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates also went down “appreciably” in 2017, the Commission report said.
The EU’s top five export destinations in 2017 were the US, China, Switzerland, Russia and Japan.
Meanwhile, for the same period, Europe imported €117.4bn of agri-food products from third countries, a 4.5% increase compared to 2016 data.
“Nevertheless, driven by the stronger export performance over the 12-months period, the export surplus now stands at EUR 20.5bn, which represents a growth of 9% over last year and the eighth consecutive year of agricultural trade surplus.”
The EU’s top three trade partners for food imports were Brazil (€11.8bn), the USA (€11bn) and Argentina (€5.7bn) although it was Indonesia that saw the biggest growth. European Union countries bought 34% more agri-food products from Indonesia in 2017 than in 2016, fuelled by an increase in demand for palm oil.
Imports of cocoa, soybeans and meat preparations into the bloc all fell.