Global Agriculture

2020 a year of stability for EU agri-food trade

31 March 2021, Belgium: China, Switzerland and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region were the major growth destinations for EU agri-food exports in 2020. In the case of China, the value of exports rose by €3.22 billion compared to 2019, driven by pig meat, wheat, and infant food. A wide range of products drove a €675 million increase in exports to Switzerland, while cereals and dairy products propelled increases to the MENA region, particularly to Saudi Arabia (where export values rose by €648 million), Algeria (up by €494 million), and Morocco (up €413 million).

The value of EU exports fell in relation to the USA (by €392 million, with spirits and wine the main products affected), Turkey (down by €360 million) and Singapore (a decrease of €346 million). Despite the impact of Brexit, EU exports to the UK increased by €467 million compared to 2019, with wheat, pasta and pastry amongst the leading products. However, the value of EU imports from the UK dropped by €1.2 billion, with spirits and liqueurs hit in particular.

Canada grew significantly as a source of EU agri-food imports in 2020, with rapeseed and durum wheat propelling a rise of €1.05 billion in import values compared to 2019. Imports from Brazil and Indonesia both increased by €580 million, driven by soya beans and palm oil respectively, while import values fell in relation to Ukraine (down by €1 billion), the USA (down €626 million), and India (a decrease of €247 million).

In terms of product categories, exports of pig meat grew by €2.12 billion compared to 2019, while the value of wheat exports increased by €1.70 billion. Other product categories to perform strongly in 2020 were pet food (up by €557 million), rapeseed and sunflower oil (up €467 million) and pasta and pastry (up €391 million).

2020 was a challenging year for many EU agri-food exports, with values declining for spirits and liqueurs (by €1.58 billion), wine (by €1.2 billion), raw hides and skins (by €582 million), and cotton (by €413 million).

As regards imports, values decreased for the EU’s intake of coarse grains (down by €1.22 million), spirits and liqueurs (a fall of €493 million), and oilcakes (a drop of €441 million). On the other hand, increases were recorded in the import values of palm and palm kernel oil (up by €719 million), fatty acids and waxes (up €689 million), rapeseed and sunflower seeds (up €602 million), and fresh and dried fruit (up by €491 million).