Agro-food exports, thanks to the recovery of world trade, have grown by
10.7%in 2021 compared to the previous year, and have reached
59,141 million euros. This increase has been below that registered by the global exports of the Spanish economy, a
16.7%, reaffirming the fact that agri-food exports have a countercyclical component that makes them grow less than exports in general in good years, but perform better in bad years. This is stated in the report of
Cajamar Analysis of agri-food exports 2021, prepared by the expert in internationalization, consumption trends and agri-food sustainability
Likewise, the agri-food trade balance has obtained a new record, reaching
18,058 million eurosbeing the largest of all sectors of the Spanish economy, becoming a crucial element in offsetting part of Spain's chronic trade deficit.
The Director of Sustainable Development of the Cajamar Cooperative Group,
Roberto Garcia Torrentepointed out that "the Spanish agri-food sector has a clear export vocation, as evidenced by the fact that sales abroad have increased by more than one
66% and that currently represent almost the
fifty % of Spanish production.
The report also shows that the exports of the agri-food sector of our country continue the trend of sustained growth during the last decade (between 2011 and 2021), where the average growth rate has been
6.3%. However, for the first time in the last 10 years, the increase recorded by Spain's agri-food exports, with this
10.7%have not been the ones that have experienced the greatest increase in 2021 in comparison with the agri-food exports of the rest of the countries of the European Union, being surpassed by France, with an increase of
12.5% and from Italy, with a
11.8% last year.
Exports rise to all countries except China
In the data by country, the drop in exports to China stands out, from
6%, in 2021 compared to the previous year, after several years of spectacular growth. The cause has been the slowdown in sales of the pig sector, which continue to account for more than
80% of total agri-food sales to that country.
The markets that stand out for the positive behavior of Spanish agri-food exports in 2021 have been Italy, with an increase of 7
€63 million, 16% higher than the previous year; France, 734 million euros more, 9% higher; Germany, with an increase of 605 million euros, 10% more, and Portugal, with 553 million euros more than the previous year, which represents an increase of 12%. In third countries, exports to the United States stand out with an increase of
€403 million and a rise of 20%, and South Korea with an increase of 288 million euros and a spectacular increase of 63% compared to the previous year.
The author of the report, Jaime Palafox, has pointed out that "in 2021 Spanish agri-food exports, unlike the previous year when numerous ups and downs were recorded, show
an upward trend in all relevant markets except China, a clear consequence of the recovery of trade after the pandemic.”
In the more medium-term analysis, exports to third countries have been the ones that have shown a more dynamic behavior, with average growth in the last decade above the
8%, against a more moderate increase, with an average of
5 %, in agri-food sales to member countries of the European Union (EU). Although, in 2021, exports to the EU grow more, specifically a
11.1%compared to a 10% increase in those destined for third countries, a situation that has only occurred in three of the last 10 years.
Spanish exports of fruit and vegetables, pork and olive oil, leaders in the EU
The report also carries out an analysis of the evolution of the exports of the different products grouped by categories, going into more detail in those that are relevant in exports, such as
fruit and vegetables, pork, olive oil and wine.
Spanish fruit and vegetable exports maintain the leadership in the EU and have registered a good trend last year, with an increase of 6%, somewhat higher than in 2020, which was 5%. As for the destination markets, the European Union and the United Kingdom absorb 92% of sales abroad, a percentage higher than that of our Dutch, Italian and French competitors.
For its part, the pig sector, unlike the previous year, has significantly slowed down its growth in 2021, and
has increased exports by 1% compared to the spectacular rise of 22% in 2020, as a result of the abrupt drop in sales to China.
Despite these figures, the sector continues to be essential for the growth of Spanish agri-food exports. So, since 2020
Spain leads the export of pork products in the European Union, having surpassed Germany after leading a spectacular growth in the last decade with an average annual rate of 10%.
As regards the destination markets for pigs, it is the countries of the Far East that clearly stand out, with China as a benchmark, with an average annual growth of
40% in the last 10 years, but so are the Philippines, with 35% more; South Korea, 22% higher, and Japan, with an increase of 20% in the last decade. In turn, the Philippines and South Korea have also presented spectacular growth in 2021, 160% and 116% respectively, cushioning the fall recorded in China.
According to Jaime Palafox, "as already indicated in last year's report, the evolution of exports in these alternative Asian markets to China shows that the sector
is already attacking new markets by the time China recovers its domestic production, although some general drop in sales is inevitable given the magnitude of the figures.
The olive oil category registers a spectacular recovery of its exports in value that
grow by 16% compared to the drop of 6% in 2020. Spain is once again the clear leader in the European Union for this product with more than double the exports of our traditional competitor Italy for many years, a reference worldwide. Likewise, a comparison of Spanish and Italian olive oil exports to different markets shows that
Spain largely dominates olive oil exportsa in most markets except only Canada, Germany and other minor markets in Central and Northern Europe such as Switzerland, Sweden, Austria or Denmark.
Exports from the wine sector, although they are also recovering, with a
10% growth vs. 3% decline in 2020, invites hope after several years of falls or low growth. However, it is the sector where the greatest weakness is seen. Spain is in third position in exports in value behind France and Italy, despite being the first in volume. This reflects one, if not the main weakness of Spanish wine exports, such as the average price of €1.23/litre compared to €7.22/litre in France and €3.12/litre in Italy.
As for the rest of the categories, they stand out
growths in fish and shellfish with a spectacular increase of 29%, spirits and alcohols, 27%, as well as pet food and protein concentrates, 21%. In most cases, these are categories that fell significantly in 2020, reiterating the cause of the recovery in trade flows.
The Cajamar report 'Analysis of agri-food exports 2021' is available on the Plataforma Tierra website: