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Fresh produce trade growing quicker than total global trade

The export trade in fresh fruit and vegetables has developed more rapidly than the total global trade in goods in the past ten years. Seen in value (expressed in euros), the export of fresh fruit and vegetables grew slightly faster by an average of eight per cent than the total global export in the past ten years. In the past year, the global fruit and vegetable export (including double counts of re-export) passed the limit of 100 billion dollar. That’s only a modest figure (0.7 per cent) in relation to the total export trade of goods in the world, which is 15 trillion (15,000 billion). 

The value of the Dutch export goods amounts to about 430 billion euro. In the total global trade in goods, that means the Netherlands has a share of about three per cent. With that, the Netherlands is seen as the seventh exporter globally, after France, but before the UK and Italy. The total Dutch import of goods has stagnated in recent years, and is at a value of approximately 380 billion euro. With that, the Netherlands came ninth in the list of import countries in 2015. In the EU, Germany, the UK and France are slightly higher on that list.

For fresh fruit and vegetables, the Netherlands is the second export country after Spain with a share of nine per cent, as regards value. In the total Dutch export, fresh fruit and vegetables has a share of about two per cent. The Dutch export of fresh fruit and vegetables increased to more than nine billion euro last year, regarding value. Import also increased, to about 5.5 billion euro in the past year. On the list of fruit and vegetable exporters, the Netherlands is fourth.

Crisis tempered export increase 
The ten-year analysis shows that the trade in fresh fruit and vegetables wasn’t much influenced by the crisis after 2009. The total global trade in goods shows a clear slump in 2009. The increase of global trade in fresh fruit and vegetables levelled a bit in 2009, but did grow. 

Seen in quantity, the global trade in fresh fruit and vegetables grew by three per cent every year over the past ten years. With it, the global trade in fruit and vegetables grew quicker than the world population, considering that grew by an average 1.2 per cent per year to about 7.5 billion over the past ten years. 

The Netherlands plays key role for many products
The Netherlands plays a key role for a great number of fruit and vegetable products. Seen in quantity, the Netherlands comes fourth in the total fruit and vegetables trade. Spain is the most important global export country, followed by Mexico and China. The Netherlands is first for fresh vegetables globally. For fresh fruit, the Netherlands is ninth. 

Spain is number one for most products. Of the 40 most important products, Spain is number one nine times, compared to four number one spots for the Netherlands. That the Netherlands is high on the list of export countries for onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and headed cabbage is not surprising. High positions for products such as oranges (no 7), grapes (6), pineapple (3), melons (7), garlic (4), mangoes (6), avocados (3), kiwifruit (7), grapefruit (5) and papayas (9) stand out more. 

The importance of the Netherlands as an export country is mostly thanks to re-export. On the list of importers of fresh fruits and vegetables, the Netherlands is in sixth place. The most important import countries are the US, Germany, Russia, the UK and France. The Dutch share in total global import amounts to more than four per cent, vegetables 2.7 per cent and fruit more than five per cent. High positions are mostly taken up by the Netherlands for oranges (2), tangerines (6), grapes (3), pineapple (2), lemons (4), melons (2), avocados (2), mangoes (2) and grapefruits (1!).

EU market of vital importance for the Netherlands
More than a quarter of border-crossing traffic in fresh fruit and vegetables takes place between EU countries. Of the total Dutch goods export, nearly three-quarters is focused on EU countries. The importance of EU countries is even more important for fresh fruit and vegetables, nearly 85 per cent. This shows the major importance of one internal market for the Netherlands. 

That picture is different for imports. Of the total Dutch import, more than half comes from EU countries, and for fresh fruit and vegetables that is about one-third. That more import is from outside the EU in relation can be explained because of the key position the Netherlands takes up in the trade of fruit and vegetables.

When considering separate countries, the four most important export countries (Spain, Mexico, China and the Netherlands), have shown a slightly larger average increase of export in the past ten years. Peaks regarding growth are: Turkey (biggest products were tangerines, tomatoes, lemons and oranges), Guatemala (mostly bananas), India (especially onions and tomatoes), Egypt (especially oranges and onions) and Peru (mostly grapes). A significant increase could also be seen for Belarus and Lithuania, although that mostly concerned transit to Russia.

Largest growth in Asia and Africa
The internal EU trade might be important, but the growth of internal trade is falling behind the growth of the global trade in fruit and vegetables. All regions in Asia and the African continent have managed to realise a larger growth than the EU countries. And the same can be seen with imports. Growing markets are mostly located in Asia, with China in the lead. African countries also import more and more fruit and vegetables. The increase of import in the Gulf States actually disappoints. With an average five per cent in the past ten years, it is less than the regions mentioned before. 

For importing countries, the considerable increase for China stands out. In the past ten years, imports of fruit and vegetables increased by an average 15 per cent per year in China. Exotics and bananas are the most important Chinese import products. In practically all EU countries, the import of fresh fruit and vegetables shows a slight growth. In ten years, various important EU countries increased import by an average one per cent per year. The Netherlands was an exception, with an average of four per cent.   

Publication date: 4/17/2017


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