Fruit and Vegetable trade within Europe worth €33 billion

Genoa - Danes, Poles, Spaniards and Italians: the EU’s biggest consumers.

Genoa - Trade in the fruit and vegetables segment within EU member states is worth €33.4 billion (Eurostat, 2015 figures), about seven times larger than the inbound and outbound trade with non-EU countries (4.7 billion). Consequently, nearly all trade in the fruit and vegetables segment in Europe occurs within the EU common market, despite the fact that trade with non-EU countries is markedly increasing.

To unpack the figures in more detail, fruit accounts for 61.5% of intra-European exports, while vegetables account for the remaining 38.5%. This is despite tomatoes being the single most traded product, accounting for 9.8% of the total share. The main three players in this segment are Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy, which account for more than two thirds of the trade generated between EU Member States. Spain leads the sector, except in tomatoes, carrots and apples. The Netherlands ranks first in tomato exports within the EU, while Italy tops the list for grapes (31.7% of the market), and apples (28.2%).

Within the EU, Danes are the biggest consumers of fruit and vegetables, consuming on average 275 kilogrammes per person per year; followed by Poles (257 kg), Spaniards (255 kg) and Italians (230 kg). The major consumer countries are Italy, Germany and Spain, but it should be noted that both Mediterranean countries have seen volumes drop significantly through the recent economic downturn, while Germany, with a lower per capita consumption (156 kg), has experienced a slight increase in volumes over the last decade. The only other country in which consumption was not affected by the crisis was France, but also in this case per capita consumption remains quite low (144 kg).

While trade within the European Union represents the largest market-share for Europe, it should be noted, however - as already mentioned - that imports from non-EU countries are growing rapidly. In the first six months of 2016 imports of vegetables recorded a 23% growth, while in monetary value the increase has levelled at 11%. It now stands at 1.55 million tons, for a total of €1.602 billion, and is the result of the intensification of trade relations with Morocco and Egypt, which account for 31% and 15% respectively, of total imports of vegetables into the EU. Those two countries recorded a 13% and 10% increase in exports, respectively, for a total of 482,571 and 250,559 tons shipped. In the fruit segment, however, the increase was 9% in volume and 8% in value, for a total of 6.5 million tons, worth €6.714 billion. The result was driven by the trend in imports of citrus fruits, soaring by 21% (to 946,174 tonnes), as well as that of apples and pears, which recorded an increase of 15% (to 450,468 tonnes). Europe also purchased more pineapples (+9%), bananas (+5%), melons and watermelons (+5%) and table grapes (+1%).

Continuing with import trends, edible nuts remain the most purchased product by EU states, and represented more than a quarter of the total value (about €19.1 billion) of fruit and vegetable imports. Bananas rank second (17.7%), followed by dates, figs, pineapples and avocados (11.5% in total), table grapes (9.9%) and citrus fruit (9.1%). Although the origins of the imports are quite varied, almost half come from just five countries: the United States (15.0%), Turkey (10.7%), South Africa (8.4%), Morocco (6.7%) and Costa Rica (6.2%). A clear trend towards country-specific suppliers should be noted: three-quarters of edible nuts come from the United States (53.2%) and Turkey (21.3%), two-thirds of the bananas come from Central and South America (Colombia 26%, Ecuador 24.5%, Costa Rica 17%), and two-fifths of dates, figs, pineapples and avocados comes from Costa Rica (24.5%) and Peru (16.3%). Nearly a third of citrus fruit imported is from South Africa (31.3%), while another third comes from Argentina (11.2%), Turkey (9.9%) and Morocco (9.3%). South Africa is also the main exporter of table grapes to the EU (26.0%), followed by Turkey (20%) and Chile (15.4). Finally, almost four-fifths of apples and pears come from just three countries: South Africa (29.6%), Chile (27.7%) and New Zealand (21.6%), while the origin of half of the cherries, apricots, plums and peaches imported is Chile (20.5%), New Zealand (18.7%) and Morocco (11.9%).

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