In the past year, the EU has grown into the largest food exporter in the world, thus taking over the lead position from the United States. In all likelihood, experts say, Europe will continue to be number one in the coming years. Europe has become breadbasket of the world, or at least a major hub in the global food trade, because the EU also tops the list of biggest importers.

10 percent of the 120 billion Euro that the EU exported last year comes from Russia. Compared to 2012, this represents an increase of 6 billion Euro. Agriculture in the United States suffered from drought, causing exports to drop with 2 billion Euro to 115 billion.

From importer to exporter

Last year, the EU introduced 102 billion in agricultural products and was thus the world's largest importer. In joint second place are the USA and China with 84 billion (followed by Japan with 46 billion). In 2010, the EU was a net exporter. In previous years, imports overshadowed exports. Since 2010, the trade surplus in agricultural products has steadily grown to 7% of the trade in 2013, i.e. 18.6 billion. Only trade in machinery, chemicals and pharmaceuticals is larger.

The growth of European exports is mainly due to a growing demand from emerging economies. The biggest increases were Saudi Arabia with 20.4 percent and China with 19.7 percent. In absolute terms, exports to China grew fastest with 1.2 billion Euro. Exports to Saudi Arabia have been growing since 2010 and last year reached a value of 3.9 billion. The export of semi-finished and finished products respectively rose by 39 and 11 percent.

US, Russia largest markets
The United States and Russia remain the main export markets. Of the total exports, 13 percent goes to the United States and 10 percent to Russia. China is in third place for the first time with 6.1 percent of European exports, followed by Switzerland, who accounted for 5.9 percent of exports. Fifth and sixth on the list are Japan and Hong Kong. Exports to Japan dropped by 2.3 percent to 4.2 percent. Hong Kong accounted for 4 percent of exports. Hong Kong and China together account for 10 percent, equalling Russia.

Europe's share in the Russian food imports is 42 percent. This makes the EU the most important supplier of food products to Russia, with about 11.9 billion Euro. The main categories are unchanged, and have been for years: fruit (9%) and cheese (8%). The fruit import brought in around 1 billion Euro, half of which is represented by pears and apples. The vegetable exports accounted for 0.8 billion. The same amount was earned from the export of meat products, excluding pork. Until recently, Europe exported a large amount of pork to Russia, accounting for 8 percent of exports and nearly 1 billion Euro. In the winter of 2014, Russia blocked the import of pork. Other important export products to Russia are: bakery products, pasta and baby food.

Russians warn of deteriorating trade
Russian analysts (hinting at the current boycott) like to point out the important role of Russia in the European food exports and the possible consequences if complications would occur in this trade. Some are expecting a 5-percent drop in Russia's imports from the EU by the deterioration of the relationship.