Global Agriculture

Steady increase in EU agri-food trade in first eight months of 2021

27 November 2021, EU: The total value of EU agri-food trade (exports plus imports) for January-August 2021 reached a value of €210.5 billion, reflecting a 5.1% increase on the same period last year. Exports rose by 7% to €127.5 billion, while imports grew by 2.3% to €85 billion, giving a total agri-food trade surplus of €44 billion for the first eight months of the year. This is an increase of 17% compared to the corresponding period in 2020.

Positive figures were reported in exports to the United States, which grew by €2 billion or 15%, largely driven by strong performances from wine, and spirit and liqueurs. Additionally, exports to China rose by €812 million, while increases in values were also reported in exports to Switzerland (up €531 million), South Korea (up €464 million), Norway (up €393 million) and Israel (up €288 million).

Exports to the United Kingdom during this period were nearly at the same value as they were last year. At just €116 million or 0.4% lower than 2020 values, this illustrates a significant rebound in recent months, given how depressed exports to the UK were in the earlier parts of the year.

Despite the significant overall increase in agri-food exports, exports to a number of countries declined compared the same period in 2020. The largest decline was seen in exports to Saudi Arabia, which fell by €399 million or 16%, largely due to a drop in exports of wheat, barley and cereal preparations. Other notable decreases were reported in exports to Hong Kong (down €103 million) and Kuwait (down €101 million).

Despite the evidence of a strong rebound in exports to the UK, imports from the UK fell more than those from any other country in the first eight months of this year, with a decrease reported of €2.6 billion or 27%. A significant decrease was also seen in imports from the United States, which fell by €544 million or 9%, as well as imports from Moldova (down €122 million), Vietnam (down €122 million), and Chile (down €113 million).

Regarding specific product categories, the first eight months of 2021 saw major increases in the export values of wine (up €2.5 billion) and spirits and liqueurs (up €1.3 billion), representing increases of 31% and 32% respectively. Other increases in the value of exports were seen in rapeseed and sunflower oils (up €611 million), and chocolate and confectionary (€610 million). Decreases were, however, reported for exports of wheat (down €892 million) and infant food (down €736 million), with smaller but significant drops in value also recorded for vegetables (down €153 million), butter (down €130 million), and tropical fruits (down €125 million).

The most notable increases in the value of imports were seen in oilcakes (up €1.1 billion), soya beans (up €1.1 billion), fatty acids and waxes (up €500 million), palm and kernel oil (up €479 million), and cocoa beans (up €291 million). The highest decreases in import values, on the other hand, were seen in tropical fruit, nuts and spices (down €669 million), fruit juices (down €194 million), citrus fruits (down €159 million), raw tobacco (down €158 million), and rice (down €140 million).