The upward trend in Spanish fresh fruit and vegetable exports didn't continue last year. At least not when it came to volume. In 2020, Spain exported 12.8 million tons of fresh fruit and vegetables. That's four percent less than in the record 2019 year. Spanish fruit exports actually shrank by seven percent to 7.4 million tons. At 5.4 million tons, fresh vegetable exports were only fractionally lower.
Value-wise, however, 2020 was a record year. Spain exported €14.7 billion worth of fresh fruit and vegetables last year. That's eight percent more than in 2019. That means Spanish export product prices were considerably higher. Fresh fruit was as much as 17% more expensive last year than in 2019. At seven percent, the increase was less for vegetables.
More imports again
Spain imports quite a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables too. In 2020, these continued to grow. The country imported 2.5 million tons of fresh fruit and vegetables last year. Spanish imports prices have also risen sharply. Average import product per unit prices were seven percent higher than in 2019.
Mainly fewer oranges, mandarins, and tomatoes
The Spanish export trend largely consists of oranges and mandarins. Significantly fewer of these two products were exported in 2020 than in the previous years. Exports of both products fell by almost ten percent. Large fruit, such as watermelon, exports also plummeted in 2020.
The large vegetable product picture varied. Spain exported a record number of bell peppers last year. However, Spanish tomato exports were considerably less successful with a minus of eight percent. Spanish cucumber and lettuce exports both fell slightly. The country saw sizeable losses in nectarine (-23%) and peach (-19%) exports.
Yet several products' exports increased again in 2020. These are khakis, garlic, grapes, aubergines, apples, and avocados. These products have annual export figures of between 150.000 and 200.000 tons.
85% to EU(27) countries
Spain exports most (85%) of its fresh fruit and vegetables to the EU(27) countries. In 2020, these exports decreased slightly less than those to other countries. With more than a quarter of the total, Germany is Spain's top client. Exports to this country fell by only three percent. That makes it a little better than the average.
France is Spain's second most important export destination. Exports to this country fared even better, with only a one percent loss. Exports to the United Kingdom also remained relatively stable. Those decreased by three percent. Exports to the Netherlands, in fourth place, didn't go as well.
7% less to the Netherlands
In 2020, Spain sent a total of 974.000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables to the Netherlands. That's seven percent down on 2019. Less went to Italy (-4%), Poland (-13%) and Portugal (-6%) too. Belgium did better with a plus of three percent. Spanish exports to Switzerland (+14%), Finland (+11%), Norway (+16%), and Ireland (+5%) were also up last year.
Fewer exports in summer, with higher prices too
The summer months, between May and August, were solely responsible for the decreased Spanish exports. That was true for all the major products. Mandarin exports were also significantly lower in January and February. Top vegetable product exports regularly experienced difficulties in 2020's first quarter as well. These were tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers.
Spanish export prices were higher throughout the year. But, the difference was more apparent after the first quarter of last year.
Lower-than-average drop in exports to the Netherlands in 2020
Oranges are the most important product that Spain sends to the Netherlands. But last year, exports fell considerably. With just under 120,000, ten percent fewer oranges were exported to that country than in 2019. Spain sent even fewer tomatoes (-22%) to the Netherlands in 2020.
Of the top products, only Spanish bell pepper exports were up. Among the less important products, there were several growers, such as avocados, persimmons, and grapes. Strawberries exports also performed reasonably well.
A lot from Morocco
Spain imported noticeably more Moroccan products. In 2020, they imported roughly 500.000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables from that country. That's 25% more than in 2019. In particular, many Moroccan watermelons came in. Imports of Moroccan tomatoes also grew substantially. Spain bought in a quarter more - totaling 80.000 tons - of these products.
Moroccan bean imports remained stable at around 80,000 tonnes. Spain imported slightly fewer Moroccan bell peppers. But, Moroccan oranges imports exploded. It increased by 45% to 45.000 tons. Morocco also sent more raspberries and blueberries to Spain.
Portugal is Spain's second most important supplier. In 2020, at 310.000 tons, fresh fruit and vegetable imports from that country remained on the same level as the two previous years. Spain's neighboring country mostly sent oranges (+53%), apples (+66%), en tomatoes (-52%).
More and more to/from the Netherlands
Spain imports an increasing amount of fresh fruit and vegetables to/from the Netherlands. Last year, these imports grew by 17% to almost 200.000 tons. There's no dominant product, but surprisingly, oranges are the top product. In 2020, more than 20.000 tonnes of these could be exported to Spain via the Netherlands.
This concerns (re)exporting South African products in the summer. Then, many tomatoes are also exported from the Netherlands to Spain. Although, this was less in 2020. Avocados and grapes are the other re-export products that often go to Spain via the Netherlands.