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Opportunities for US agri exports in Spain and Portugal

Focus on tree nuts and sweet potatoes

US exporters can find ample opportunities in the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is the third-largest European Union destination for US agri products, with Portugal ranking 11th. In 2021, the United States exported $1.6 billion of agricultural products to Spain, or 15 percent of total US agricultural exports to the EU. The United States held a 4 percent market share of Spain’s agricultural imports and 2 percent market share in Portugal, behind other EU member states as a group and Brazil. The Iberian Peninsula has been a major gateway to Europe for US agricultural products and contains many ports of entry including Lisbon off the Atlantic Ocean and Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea.

Best prospects for Spain: Tree nuts and sweet potatoes
During the pandemic, tree nut consumption increased in the EU due to consumer demand for healthy foods. In 2021, the EU was the top market for US tree nut exports. Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands have been the most significant importers. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios accounted for 72 percent of total Spanish tree nut imports globally, of which the United States is the main supplier for all three types. Spain has relied on tree nut imports as domestic production and sources from other EU member states have not met demand.

In Spain, the most significant tree nut consumers have been the food processing and snack industries. Tree nuts have multiple uses in the food ingredient industry. Shelled pistachios have been used by bakeries and food companies, while ice cream makers have preferred milled pistachios.

The demand in Spanish tree nut imports varies by nut type. For instance, total Spanish almond imports from the world were down 11 percent from 2020 to 2021, while walnut imports were up 3 percent during the same timeframe. Despite the varied growth rates, all three tree nuts remain important in the food ingredient sector. Spain continues to be the leading European importer of almonds.

Sweet potatoes
Demand for sweet potatoes has increased during the last 5 years. Spanish sweet potato imports increased from $2 million in 2017 to $13 million in 2021 from all sources. The Netherlands, the United States, and Portugal are top suppliers of sweet potatoes in Spain. The United States is the second-largest supplier and holds a 22 percent market share. Sweet potatoes from the Netherlands are originally from the United States and are re-exported to Spain.

Best prospects for Portugal: Tree nuts
Portugal is a reliable market for US almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. In 2021, Portugal imported $4 million of tree nuts from the United States. Growth has been positive for the last 5 years (2017-2021). Total tree nut imports from the world increased from $94 million in 2017 to $114 million in 2021. The United States faces competition from other EU members, Chile, and Vietnam. Some of the tree nuts originally from the United States are imported through Spain.

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