EU exports for agricultural products reached €129 billion in 2015, an annual increase of 5.7%, securing the EU's position as first world agri-food exporter with a net trade surplus of €16 billion.
The entire output of the European Union's agricultural sector was valued at €410 billion in 2015. Agriculture and the food and drink industry together employ millions of people, accounting for 7.5 % of employment and 3.7 % of total value added in the EU, according to the reportpublished today on Agri-food trade in 2015.
Although some Member States and sectors still suffered from the Russian ban and from low world market prices, the overall EU agricultural trade performance was positive in 2015.
Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development commented on the report: "Our trade performance continues to be a real good news story for the EU agri-food sector. Our high production standards and commitment to quality food and drink products ensure continuing global demand. We have directed significant resources towards making the most of these opportunities, including an increased global promotion budget, and a number of new and exciting trade opportunities. In the coming months, I hope to see further export growth for Europe's farmers and agri-food businesses, and the Commission will support them every step of the way. Every €100,000 of exports supports one rural job on average so the EU's good agri-food export performance is good for jobs and growth in rural areas."
Diversification of exports has been the key word for this performance. Besides finding new markets, ties with existing partners have been strengthened, as around half of the total gain in exports came from increased trade with China. Currently, the top five destinations for EU28 agri-food exports are the US, China, Switzerland, Russia and Japan. Several sanitary and phyto-sanitary barriers were lifted in 2015 and export opportunities also increased because of agreements on geographical indications for EU quality products with among others Morocco. The ranking of the top world agri-food exporters remained unchanged in 2015, after the EU took over the leading position from the US in 2013.
Agricultural products represent more than 7 % of all goods exported from the EU. The wide range of products from all parts of the value chain which demonstrates the versatility of the sector. Among the agricultural feed and food products, the exports feature in particular wines, cereals, meat, olive oil and dairy products, and one third of the export value is generated by beverages and products of the food industry such as pasta, infant food and other processed products. The largest export gains were achieved for products which already represent a high share in agri-food exports, such as spirits and wine. The combined increase in export value for these two product categories reached €1.5 billion. The highest export value decrease* was recorded for milk powders. Dairy products and fruit and vegetables were the sectors most severely hit by the Russian ban. The lower export value of dairy products was also caused by lower prices. EU imports, on the other hand, are more dominated by agricultural food and feed products, which represent about 80 % of all imports. In addition, due to higher growth in exports, the EU turned to be a net exporter as from 2010.
The full report, also including general overviews of the trade performance of the EU's key partners (United States, China, Brazil, Japan, Russia) and detailed description of their trade flows with the EU, can be found here.
*corrected on 22/07/2016 at 12:00