The total value of EU agri-food trade – exports and imports – for January to August 2021 reached €210.5 billion, a 5.1% increase on the same period in 2020.

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 US, which grew by €2 billion or 15%, largely driven by strong performances from wine, spirits 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 UK 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.

Agri-food exports decline

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.

Agri-food imports

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 US, 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.

Agri-food categories

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. This represents 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, up €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;
  • 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;
  • Rice, down €140 million.