EU share increase in fruit and vegetable import Balkans

The Balkans are important producers and traders of fresh fruit and vegetables, with a total import of around 1.2 million tonnes. They also export around 1.2 million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables. The countries we’re taking a look at here, together produce nearly 4 million tonnes of fresh vegetables, and an equal amount of fresh fruit. Their proximity to large fruit and veg exporters like Turkey and Italy, as well as to large buyer Russia, makes them important players in the world of fruit and vegetables.

Import from EU countries increased significantly

The Balkans have been importing more and more products from EU countries, partly because of Slovenia (2004) and Croatia (2013) joining the EU. About a decade ago, the 7 countries in the Balkans imported less than half a million tonne (30%) fresh fruit and veg from EU countries. Now they import 1.2 million tonnes, 680,000 tonnes (55%) of which from EU countries. Their export has also increased from 400,000 tonnes to over 900,000 tonnes, around 40% of which to EU countries.

Click here to open a pdf with more statistical data.

A lot of Serbian produce, mostly apples, to Russia

The repercussions of fresh fruit and vegetables from EU countries can be clearly seen in Serbian export. In 2013, Serbia still exported 120,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables to Russia, last year that was 175,000 tonnes. Most of this was comprised of export of Serbian apples to Russia. EU members Slovenia and Croatia hardly exported fresh fruit and vegetables to Russia, and neither did Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania.

Belarus backdoor
A backdoor to Russia that is seen in the figures, is Belarus. Official statistics show that the import of fresh fruit and vegetables in Belarus increased from 0.49 million tonnes in 2012 to 1.31 million tonnes in 2014, with the export increasing from 190,000 to 920,000 tonnes. Poland has supplied the most produce to Belarus, but Spain, Turkey, Moldova, the Netherlands, Belgium, Serbia and Macedonia also exported to Belarus. It’s not surprising that most of Belarus’ export has been focused on Russia.

Click here to open a pdf with more statistical data.

Serbia: big exporter, but still trade deficit
Serbia is a major export of fresh fruit and vegetables, but still is a net importer almost every year. Last year, Serbia imported 270,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables, while exporting 268,000 tonnes. Value-wise though, Serbia was a net exporter. Import amounted to a value of 133 million Euro, the export was worth 140 million Euro. Serbia imported 55 million Euro worth of fruit and veg from EU countries, while exporting 30 million Euro worth to those. Last year, Serbia was even more dependent on the Russian market than in previous years.

Macedonia: biggest exporter Balkans
Remarkably, Macedonia is by far the most important fruit and vegetable exporter of the Balkans, with an amount of 300,000 tonnes annually. About a third of this export goes to Serbia, with Bulgaria and Bosnia being other important buyers, with the main export product being apples. At less than 60,000 tonnes, the amount of import is smaller.

Slovenia: a lot of re-export
Slovenia is the biggest importer of the 7 Balkans countries, most of it being re-export. According to Eurostat figures, Slovenia exported no less than 307,000 tonnes, while other sources (UN Comtrade) report an import figure that’s around 100,000 tonnes lower. The discrepancy is probably related to re-export. Slovenia’s export is also significant, at 170,000 tonnes.

Click here to open a pdf with more statistical data.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: relatively large import
For its size, Bosnia has quite a significant amount of import, which exceeded 200,000 tonnes in 2014 for the first time in years. The EU share in that import is increasing, being fifty percent in 2014. Bosnia exports a relatively low amount of fruit and vegetables: 23,000 tonnes in 2014.

Montenegro: the smallest
Montenegro is the smallest country, both in terms of import and export. Import was consistently around 60,000 tonnes in recent years, with Serbia being the main supplier. Montenegrin export is very modest, at less than 10,000 tonnes.

Albania: import trend declining, export increasing
Despite the significant domestic production, Albania is still a net importer of fresh fruit and vegetables. Albanian import does show a declining trend, to 80,000 tonnes in 2014, with Greece being the most important supplier. Export of fresh fruit and veg from Albania is growing, however. Over half of that export is focused on Serbia and Montenegro, with tomatoes and watermelons being the main export products.

More info:
Fruit & Vegetable Facts
Jan Kees Boon
+31 6 54 687 684

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