EU exports of agri-food products up last year

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

The EU's leading exports are wine and spirits, infant food, food preparations, chocolate and pig meat. Picture: iStock/Waldemarus
The EU's leading exports are wine and spirits, infant food, food preparations, chocolate and pig meat. Picture: iStock/Waldemarus

Related tags Export Import Trade European commission

EU exports of agri-food products reached €138 billion last year - an annual increase of 5.1% - according to the latest statistics.

The 2017 annual agri-food trade report found imports had a value of €117bn.

The entire output of the EU's agricultural sector was estimated at €427bn in 2017.

Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said: "The success of agricultural trade is clearly linked to reforms of the CAP that allow EU producers to be competitive on international markets.

“But it is also thanks to the worldwide reputation of EU products as being safe, sustainably produced, nutritious and of high quality.”

Export picture

eu agri food exports
EU agri food exports

The top five destinations for EU agri-food exports are the US, China, Switzerland, Russia and Japan.

Sales to these five countries grew by 7.2%, compensating for losses to destinations in the Middle East (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) and Northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria).

Exports to Russia, after a steep fall in recent years due to an embargo for several agricultural products, recovered for the first time since 2013 due to rising exports of products not subject to the ban. The biggest export increase was for food preparations and beverages (+22%) holding a share of 41% (€2.7bn).

Exports of wine (+11.7%) and infant food (+10.8%) increased above the average of agri-food exports (+5.1%). Chocolate and pig meat also have more than €5bn of exports.

The category of wine, vermouth, cider and vinegar – which already are the main exported products by the EU – saw an increase by €1.2bn (+12%).

Beet and cane sugar exports climbed by 43% (€+0.3bn), mostly due to increased EU production following abolition of the sugar quota.

Exports of wheat declined substantially (-27.5%) due to lower production in the EU combined with ample supply on the world market.

For pork and cereals other than wheat and rice, losses in value were moderated by the decrease in exported volumes being counteracted by higher unit prices.

Import stats

The shares for the two main import origins (Brazil and US) decreased while shares for other main suppliers remained relatively stable –except Ukraine, from where the EU imported 34% more in 2017 than in the previous year.

eu agri food imports
EU agri food imports

The EU mainly sources agri-food imports from Brazil, the US, Argentina, Ukraine and China.

The largest increases in imports from the EU are for Indonesia and India.  

Palm and palm kernel oil (6%) increased to the fourth most important agri-food import product, overtaking fresh and dried fruits (5%).

Import value losses were registered for cocoa beans (€-0.7bn, -16%). A sharp drop in prices (-23%) more than cancelled out the effect of higher import volumes. 

Despite the overall positive agri-food trade climate in 2017 there remains substantial future risks to trade developments, said the Commission.

Among the most serious threats are likely to be increasingly protectionist policy approaches in some important economies, more frequent trade disputes as well as trade disturbances linked to the decision of the UK to leave the EU.”

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