Saturday 19 January 2019

Value of food exports from European Union up 20pc to hit €84bn

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Food exports from the European Union to the rest of the world have increased 42pc in volume in the past five years, according to data from Eurostat.

The increase in volume has not been matched by the increase in the value of food exports to the rest of the world which increased by 20pc in the five years to 2016.

In 2016, the EU exported 91 million tonnes of food outside of its borders, the total value of which was €84bn. In comparison, food imports to the EU have increased by just 6pc in terms of volume in the five-year period, while they have increased by 18pc in terms of value.

Last year, total food imports to the EU represented almost 93 million tonnes of food - almost identical to the export volume of food.

The value of the food imported was €101bn.

Looking at specific food groups, the EU exported over €14bn of cereals such as wheat, spelt, barley and oats in 2016, accounting for almost one fifth of the total extra-EU food exports in value.

The second-largest group consisted of vegetables and fruit, which accounted for €12bn, or 14pc, of exports.

Meat exports, followed by dairy products and eggs completed the top four exports of food from the EU to non-EU countries.

In terms of food imports, member states imported mainly fruit and vegetables - which represented just under one-third of the total extra-EU imports, or almost €30bn.Fish made up a quarter of imports, while just under a fifth was made up of coffee, tea, cocoa and spices last year.

During 2016, intra-EU exports of food amounted in 2016 to 250 million tonnes, worth €283bn.

Last year, the Netherlands, exporting €13bn, was the EU's biggest food exporter in terms of value.

However it was closely followed by France and Germany, which each exported €11bn worth of food. Italy and Spain completed the top five member states for food exports in terms of value to non-EU countries in 2016.

The United States was the main destination for exports, taking food valued at €8bn from the EU.

Other major destinations for EU food exports were China, Switzerland, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile imports of food into the EU came mainly from Brazil - which accounted for €9bn worth of total extra-EU food imports, the US (€7bn), and Norway (€6.8bn). Other countries that member states imported food from last year included Argentina, China, and Turkey.

Taking Ireland on its own, the value of our food and drink exports in 2016 was €11.5bn, according to Bord Bia. The UK was the main destination for Irish agri-food and drink exports last year, accounting for 37pc of all exports.

Continental Europe was the destination for 32pc of Irish food and drink exports in 2016, while 31pc went to international markets outside of the EU.

Dairy products and ingredients accounted for a third of Irish food and drink exports in 2016, with beef accounting for a fifth of our food and drink exports.

Irish Independent

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