EU agri-food exports reach a new record

The value of EU pork exports rose last year.

The value of EU pork exports rose last year. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The annual value of European Union (EU) agri-food exports reached a new record in 2016, figures reveal.

Total exports reached 130.7bn euros (£110bn), buoyed by exports to the USA, which rose by 1.26bn euros, and China, which was up by 1.06bn euros.

At the same time, the value of EU agri-food imports fell by 1.5% to 112bn euros, leading to an increase in the EU trade surplus for the sector to 18.8bn euros (£16bn) - the surplus in 2015 was 15.3bn euros.

In all the agri-food sector accounted for 7.5% of total EU exports in goods last year. However, 6.6% of all imported goods are agri-food products.

The trade surplus means the agri-food sector is a major contributor to the EU’s overall trade surplus, which stood at 39.3bn euros.


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Non-commodity primary producers such as pig and vegetable farmers were among those who successfully increased exports, and values for processed food and drink, such as wine and olive oil and food preparation rose by 5%.

However, export values for commodities such as cereals and milk powder and non-edible products fell.

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There was a boost for pig farmers, with a big recovery in pigmeat exports, with the value of the trade rising by 32%, or 1.28bn euros, while the amount raised from meat offal export sales, mainly from pig production, rose by 22.5%

However, the value of the raw hides and skins trade plummeted by 41%, as did that of the wheat trade, which dropped by 13%. The value of poultry meat exports also dipped by 10%.

The USA topped the table for importing EU agri-food products, followed by China, Switzerland, Japan and Russia.

The countries from which the EU imported most food goods by value were Brazil, followed by the USA, Argentina, China and Switzerland.

Among the countries to which the EU is a net-exporter of agri-food products is Canada, with a surplus of about 1.25bn euros in 2016.

Exports to the north American country has increased steadily over the past years. The main products it buys in are value added processed products, food preparations and beverages, with wine, spirits and liqueurs, confectionery, beer as well as pastry and biscuits dominating.

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