Strong increase in EU agri-food trade reported in beginning of 2022

There was significant growth in poultry, eggs and cereals
calendar icon 10 May 2022
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January saw a continuation of the trend of lower exports and higher imports of agri-food products, which began in autumn 2021, according to a report from the European Commission. This has resulted in a significant decrease in the trade balance, which is down 50% compared to September 2021. These findings were published in the European Commission’s monthly trade report for January 2022.

The largest increases in exports were seen to the United Kingdom and the United States, who along with China, account for 40% of all EU agri-food exports. Exports to the UK grew by €894 million (+36%) to reach 2020 levels after a sharp decline last year. This was primarily a result of growth in exports of poultry & eggs, vegetables, beer, cider and other beverages.

Exports to the US grew by €323 million (+21%), largely driven by cereals and poultry & eggs. Exports to China, however, decreased by €414 million (28%).

The main sources of agri-food imports in January 2022 were the US and Brazil, followed by the UK and Ukraine. These four countries account for 35% of all agri-food imports to the EU. The largest increase was seen in imports from the UK, which grew by 137% to reach a value of over €1 billion, with particularly strong growth in imports of wine & wine-based products, as well as poultry & eggs. Despite this significant growth, imports from the UK remain 21% below their January 2020 levels.

Prior to the Russian invasion, imports from Ukraine had grown by 88% year on year in January 2022 to reach a value of €1 billion. This was mainly driven by imports of cereals, which grew by €258 million (136%). Elsewhere, imports from the US grew by 16%, while imports from China increased by 67%.

Looking at specific products, the EU’s top three export categories were cereal preparations & milling products, dairy products and wine & wine-based products. These represented one quarter of all agri-food exports. In January 2022, these sectors increased their export values by €203 million, €219 million and €227 million respectively.

Exports of cereals also grew strongly, by €210 million or 24%. While pigmeat remains the fourth strongest export sector, the value of pigmeat exports decreased by €233 million (-16%) compared to January of last year. Regarding imports, the value of oilseed & protein crop imports stood at over €1.7 billion in January 2022. These products accounted for 14% of all agri-food imports in 2021.

The import value of vegetable oils increased by 89% year on year to reach 900 million, primarily driven by rapeseed oil. Fruit imports were valued at €1.6 billion, representing a 6% increase year on year. On the other hand, there was a sharp decline reported in imports of olives & olive oils, which fell by 18%.

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