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Agriculture and rural development
News article3 June 2020Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development2 min read

Imports of organic tropical fruit increased in the EU, while imports of organic cereals declined in 2019

Overall, imports of organic agri-food products remained stable between 2018 and 2019. In terms of products, imports of organic cereals decreased in 2019, while imports of tropical fruit, oilcakes, soyabeans and sugar increased. Those are among the key findings of the report on ‘EU imports of organic agri-food products: key developments in 2019’ published today by the European Commission.

In 2019, the EU imported 3.24 million tonnes of organic agri-food products, a slight increase of 0.4% compared to 2018. Organic agri-food imports represents about 2% of total agri-food imports to the EU.

Most organic products imported in the EU were commodities (including cereals, vegetable oils, sugars, milk powders and butter) representing 54% of total organic agri-food imports in terms of volumes. Other primary products (including meat, fruit, vegetables, yoghurt and honey) represented 38% of imports in volume. However, commodities and other primary products have a lower value than processed products, leading to representing 38% and 43% respectively of imports in terms of value. Processed products represented 6% of imports in terms of volume but 11% in terms of value.

In the EU, member states that imported most organic products in 2019 are the Netherlands (32% in terms of volume), Germany (13%), the UK (12%) and Belgium (11%).

Regarding origins of products, the ten countries that exported most organic products to the EU represented 70% of imports in terms of volume in 2019, with China (13%), Ukraine (10%), Dominican Republic (10%), Ecuador (9%), Peru (7%), Turkey (7%), India (5%), Colombia (3%), Kazakhstan (3%) and Brazil (2%).

Imports from China include mainly organic oilcakes, while Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Peru mainly export organic tropical fruit, nuts and spices to the EU. Ukraine, Turkey and Kazakhstan mainly export organic cereals (including wheat, excluding rice). Finally, Brazil and Colombia’s main export to the EU is organic sugar.

In general, the most imported organic products in 2019 were tropical fruit, nuts and spices representing 27% of the total volume of organic imports (0.9 million tonnes). Bananas represent a significant part of these imports, constituting 85% of tropical fruit imports. Oilcakes are next, with 12% of organic imports (0.4 million tonnes), followed by cereals (excluding wheat and rice) and sugar both representing 7% (0.2 million tonnes).

Compared to 2018, the biggest changes relate to the increase of imports of tropical fruit, nuts and spices (up by 13%), sugar (increase of 29%), vegetables (+8%), unroasted coffee, tea and mate (a rise of 11%) and soyabeans (+25%). In terms of decrease compared to 2018, cereals – other than wheat and rice - were down by 8%, wheat by 16%, and oilseeds other than soyabeans by 17%.

More information can be found in the ‘EU imports of organic agri-food products: key developments in 2019’ report, including more details for imports of organic cereals, oilseeds, sugar, fruit and vegetables, coffee, tea, olive oil, cocoa beans and animal products.

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