The total value of EU agri-food trade reached €32.6 billion in March 2022, an increase of 12% compared to March 2021, and of 13% compared with February 2022.

The European Commission published its latest monthly trade report this week, which revealed that, in relation to exports of agricultural products, that figure reached€18.9 billion, while imports were valued at €13.7 billion. This represents increases of 11% and 16% respectively compared with figures from the previous month.

The EU continues to benefit from trade of agricultural products with a trade balance of €5.3 billion.

The report also featured a special focus on the impact of the war in Ukraine for agri-food trade in March 2022.

In addition to the usual year-on-year comparison (March 2022 vs. March 2021), it compares March 2022 with February 2022, to better highlight the great disruption of Russia’s blockade and bombing of Ukrainian export routes and farming facilities.

Imports and exports

In March 2022, EU imports of Ukrainian sunflower oil, maize and rapeseed dropped by 10%, 37% and 29%, respectively, compared to the same period a year ago.

Concerning wheat, the quantity imported in the EU declined by 77% compared to March 2021.

Likewise, a significant drop in Ukrainian exports of wheat was recorded for their main partners globally: To Egypt by 26% (year-to-year), to Yemen by 55% and even no trade was recorded for wheat to Lebanon, Libya nor Nigeria.

Similarly, Ukrainian maize exports fell drastically in March compared to the level of the same month in 2021.

The biggest decline in exported volumes was recorded for China, Egypt and Iran. For sunflower oil, India, China, Iran and the United Arab Emirates was hit the most by the reduction of Ukraine exports in March.

In March 2022, EU export logistic chains were also disrupted and the quantities exported to Ukraine dropped compared to March 2021. Volumes of cheese exported to Ukraine decreased by 85%, mixed-food preparations by 61% and cereals preparations by 11%.

Global exports from EU

In a global context, marked by uncertainties regarding food security due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the EU increased its exports towards North Africa by 16% in March 2022 compared to March 2021.

This mostly concerned oilseeds and protein crops towards Algeria and cereals to all countries but also beef and veal, notably to Libya and Egypt.

EU exports of food commodities to sub-Saharan Africa also increased in March 2022 compared with the previous year. This concerns rice, maize, white sugar, pigmeat and sheep and goat.

In general, EU’s exports to its top 10 country partners increased, except to Russia.

First quarter

Looking at trade in the first quarter of 2022 (Jan-March 2022), EU exports to the UK, the US, and Japan increased the most compared to the same period last year.

During the same period, EU imports from Brazil, the UK and Ukraine increased most year-to-year. Import values increased respectively by 56%, 51% and 65%.

Regarding monthly data for March 2022 compared to the month before (February 2022), EU imports from its top 10 partner countries increased, except from Ukraine and the US.

Looking at specific products, EU cereals export value increased by 37% compared to February 2022.

The rise was led by an increase in prices but also in the quantity of maize and other coarse grains exported.

Regarding imports, the main increases concerned coffee, soya meal and rapeseed. Apple and pear imports also increased substantially, by 226% in value.