Global Agriculture

EU agri-food trade sustains increase, after a slow start in 2021

24 September 2021, Belgium: Despite a slow first quarter, the total value of EU agri-food trade (exports plus imports) for January-June of 2021 amounted to €157.1 billion, reflecting a 3% increase on the same period in 2020. Exports rose by almost 6% to €95.3 billion, while imports fell by 1% to €61.8 billion, giving a total agri-food trade surplus of €33.5 billion for the first half of the year. This is an increase of 21% compared to the corresponding period last year.

For January-June 2021, the value of exports to the UK fell more than exports to any other country, down €446 million or 2% compared to the first half of 2020. Similarly, the overall decline in agri-food imports to the EU was largely driven by the reduction in imports from the UK, down by €2 billion or 30% on the same period last year.

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There were significant increases in exports to a number of major trading partners compared to the first half of 2020. Exports to the United States grew by €1.65 billion, largely driven by wine, spirits and liqueurs, as well as preparations of vegetables. Exports to China rose by €627 million, with the strong performance of EU pig meat and coarse grains making a considerable contribution to this figure.

There was also growth in the value of exports to Switzerland (up €414 million), Norway (up €383 million), Israel (up €204 million) and Canada (up €200 million). The January-June period also saw import values increase for products from Brazil (up €614 million), India (up €324 million), Australia (up €320 million), Serbia (up €213 million) and Argentina (up €155 million).

Despite the overall increase in agri-food exports, exports to a number of countries declined compared the same period of last year. This includes those to Saudi Arabia (down €341 million), Algeria (down €107 million), South Africa (down €98 million) and Kuwait (down €89 million). Aside from the sizeable decrease in imports from the UK, there was also a decline in imports from the United States (down €522 million), Ukraine (€285 million), Vietnam (€165 million) and Moldova (down €131 million).

Regarding specific product categories, the first half of 2021 saw major increases in the export values of wine (up €2 billion) and spirits and liqueurs (up €1 billion), representing increases of 33% and 35% respectively. Other increases in the value of exports were seen in pig meat (up €485 million), rapeseed and sunflower oils (up €465 million), and chocolate and confectionary (€446 million). Large decreases were, however, reported for exports of wheat (down €1.3 billion) and infant food (down €566 million), with smaller but significant drops in value also recorded for vegetables (down €177 million), butter (€161 million), and milk powders and whey (down €100 million).

The most notable increases in the value of imports were seen in oilcakes (up €877 million), soya beans (up €739 million), fatty acids and waxes (up €216 million), cut flowers and plants (up €106 million), and palm and kernel oil (up €68 million). The highest decreases in import values, on the other hand, were seen in tropical fruit, nuts and spices (down €733 million), unroasted coffee and tea (down €245 million), fruit juices (down €175 million), raw tobacco (down €168 million), and rice (down €128 million).