Anzeige | Advertising | Imprint | data protection

EU Organic Imports: Statistics bring Light into the Dark

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

Several million tonnes of organic food are imported into the EU every year. Symbolbild © Shutterstock/MAGNIFIER

In 2018, 3.26 million tons of organic agri-food produce was imported by the EU, from bananas over grains to animal feed – new EU statistics show what and from where.

For the first time, the EU has published extensive data on organic imports. In their report, they cluster their findings in different categories and give detailed presentation on the 10 most important supplier countries.

Plenty bananas

The category tropical fruits, nuts and spices accounts for about a quarter of all organic imports. In particular the large number of bananas imported is noticeable. The supplier countries for bananas, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Peru are on place two, three and six of the supplier ranking. These countries additionally export a considerable quantity of coffee and cacao into the EU. Other important coffee suppliers are Honduras, Mexico, Ethiopia and Uganda; tea on the other hand is mainly supplied by India and China. Surprisingly, Congo is number 1 supplier of cacao with 10.000 tons delivered to the EU.

China – feeding organic animals

Quantity-wise, the number 1 organic food supplier is China with 415.000 tons or one eight of all imports. The most important Chinese product is organic soy meal for animal food, making up 75 percent of their imports. Soy cultivation in China is free from GMO, so the risk of contamination is low and the oil cake is cheap. China holds a market share of 88 percent of soil meal, followed far behind from India and Brazil. In other words, most EU organic hens peck at the shores of the Yellow River.

Following soy meal on the list of imports from China are soy beans as a food product with 5.7 percent, shortly followed by other oil seeds such as sesame and peanuts. Rather unexpectedly high on the list are vegetables (assumingly frozen) and juices. In terms of quantity, these are even in front of tea or honey.

Read more
Read more

Organic market continues to grow - in Europe and worldwide

In 2017, the European and international organic sector again recorded strong area and market growth. In Europe alone, organic sales grew by around 11%. This was announced by FiBL and its partners at Biofach in Nuremberg.

Curious cereal suppliers

Rice, wheat and other grains make up about one fifth of EU organic imports. One of the important suppliers in this segment is the Ukraine with 76.000 tons of wheat and 114.000 tons of other cereals. Other large suppliers are Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. However, this is not where these cereals are grown; instead their origin is in Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and other countries. So we are talking about anonymous goods that are extremely susceptible to fraud, as several incidents in recent years have shown.

Rice from the USA

The most important supplier of organic rice to the EU is the USA. According to the EU statistics, 147.000 tons or two thirds of all rice imports are from the USA. This makes rice the biggest part of the EU imports from the USA. Putting this in relation, from India, the second biggest supplier, only 19.000 tons of rice were imported. Higher on India’s supply list on place one and two are cane sugar and soy beans. Other important goods are oil cake and oil seeds. The most important supplier of cane sugar is, with 53.000 tons per year Brazil. From Mexico, place two of exports into the EU is agave syrup with 16.000 tons, topped only by juices. In Tunesia, olive oil is the organic export hit with 30.000 tons. Non-tropical fruits such as apples, pears or apricots are mostly sourced from Argentina, Turkey and New Zealand, followed closely by Chile and Serbia.

The availability of such accurate data on organic imports into the EU is mainly due to the EU TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System). It has been already been collecting data on agricultural imports in the past. Since October 2018, Traces is also mandatory for organic imports from third countries.

Read also:

Pesticides in organic imports

An EU statistic shows: Pesticides are particularly often reported in organic imports from China, India and Turkey.

Organic strawberries with pesticide cocktail

40 tonnes of frozen strawberries from Turkey were contaminated with 25 pesticides. The EU Commission suspects fraud.

Coffee: Corporations cash in

Worldwide, more than two billion cups of coffee are drunk every day. That makes an annual turnover of 175 billion euros. But there is less and less for the farmers.


Go back