In 2016, the European Union (EU) imported almost 93 million tonnes of food from outside the EU, worth a total of €101 billion. Compared to 2012, food imports have increased by 6% in terms of volume and by 18% in terms of value.
On the other hand, in 2016 the EU exported 91 million tonnes of food outside of its borders. These exports were worth €84 billion. Compared with five years ago, this is an increase of 42% in volume and 20% in value.
The Netherlands, largest food exporter in terms of value to countries outside the EU
Last year, the Netherlands exported €13 billion of food outside the EU. This represents 16% of total extra-EU food exports, making the Netherlands the largest exporter of food to non-EU countries among all Member States. The Netherlands was ahead of Germany and France (€11 billion each, 11%), followed by Italy and Spain (around €8 billion each, 9%).
The United States was the main destination for these exports. The EU Member States sent €8 billion of food to the United States in 2016 (10% of total extra-EU exports of food in value). Other major destinations were China (€7.5 billion, 9%), Switzerland (€5.6 billion, 7%), Japan and Saudi Arabia (€3.8 billion each, 4%).
Imports of food into the EU from countries located outside the EU came mainly from Brazil (€9 billion, or 9% of total extra-EU food imports), the United States (€7 billion, 7%) and Norway (€6.8 billion, 7%), followed by Argentina (€5.4 billion, 5%), China (€4.8 billion, 5%) and Turkey (€4.5 billion, 4%).
The source dataset can be found here.
Cereals top product exported from the EU; fruit and vegetables top products imported
When looking at specific food groups, the EU exported over €14 billion of cereals such as wheat, spelt, barley and oats in 2016, accounting for almost one fifth of the total extra-EU food exports (17%) in value. The next largest group was made up of vegetables and fruit (€12 billion, 14%), meat (€11 billion, 13%) as well as dairy products and eggs (€10 billion, 12%).
The EU Member States imported mainly fruit and vegetables (almost €30 billion, or 30% of total extra-EU food imports), fish (€24 billion, 24%) and coffee, tea, cocoa and spices (€19 billion, 19%) from third countries.
For comparative reasons, it is worth noting that intra-EU exports of food amounted in 2016 to 250 million tonnes, worth €283 billion.
This news item marks today's World Food Day.