Value of agricultural exports increases slightly

Despite the corona crisis, the value of Dutch agricultural exports grew by an estimated 1% in 2020 compared to 2019. Total goods exports fell by around 7% in 2020. These figures were reported by Statistics Netherlands and Wageningen Economic Research (WUR) based on a joint study commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).

This slight growth in agricultural exports does require some nuance. The growth in export value was caused by a rise in export prices, but the volume of agricultural exports actually decreased slightly. Moreover, the value of exports of agricultural products produced in the Netherlands fell by 0.6%. The value of total agricultural exports nevertheless was able to grow thanks to a 5.1% increase in re-exported agricultural goods. A third nuance is that, due to the corona crisis, the estimated export value is surrounded by more uncertainty than in previous years.

Total agricultural exports in 2020 were estimated at €95.6 billion, a new record. Of this amount, €68.3 billion was for exports of Dutch products and €27.3 billion was for re-exports. Exports generated an estimated €42 billion in export services[1] for the Dutch economy. If agriculture-related goods are included, the export value was €105.4 billion, while export services then amounted to €46.4 billion.


Figure 1: Development of agricultural exports (Source: Statistics Netherlands (figures until October 2020), WUR and Statistics Netherlands (estimate for November through December 2020).)
Figure 1: Development of agricultural exports (Source: Statistics Netherlands (figures until October 2020), WUR and Statistics Netherlands (estimate for November through December 2020).)

Floriculture the biggest export market

As in 2019, flowers, plants, bulbs and nursery stock were the most traded export products (measured in euros). Floriculture products worth €9.5 billion were exported in 2020, which was 0.3% more than in 2019. Floriculture products were responsible for the highest export earnings of all agricultural product groups. The floriculture export market struggled in the first months of the corona crisis but recovered later.

After floriculture, meat was the second most exported product segment in terms of value, but this market did decline by 3%, from €9.0 billion in 2019 to €8.7 billion in 2020. Dairy and eggs and vegetables also saw a decline in exports, by 4 and 3% respectively. However, exports of fruit grew by 11%, but this was mainly due to growth in re-exports.


Figure 2: Most exported agricultural goods (Source: Statistics Netherlands (figures until October 2020), WUR and Statistics Netherlands (estimate for November through December 2020).)
Figure 2: Most exported agricultural goods (Source: Statistics Netherlands (figures until October 2020), WUR and Statistics Netherlands (estimate for November through December 2020).)

Agricultural exports to Germany grew by 4%

In 2020, 26% of all agricultural exports (€24.6 billion) went to Germany. This is 4% more than in 2019 (€23.6 billion, 25%). Belgium, the UK and France were also major importers. Exports to all these markets shrank by 2% (Belgium, France) to 3% (United Kingdom). All in all, 67% of all agricultural products were sold on the EU market (excluding the UK).

China rose from sixth to fifth place in the ranking of main agricultural importers with a share of 4%. Agricultural exports to China increased from €3.1 billion in 2019 to €3.8 billion in 2020, i.e. 24%. This mainly concerned an increase in exports of pork and baby milk powder.


Figure 3: Top ten agricultural exporters (Source: Statistics Netherlands (figures until October 2020), WUR and Statistics Netherlands (estimate for November through December 2020).)
Figure 3: Top ten agricultural exporters (Source: Statistics Netherlands (figures until October 2020), WUR and Statistics Netherlands (estimate for November through December 2020).)

Agriculture-related exports shrink slightly

The value of agriculture-related exports was estimated to be 0.6% lower than in 2019. This concerned goods produced for the agriculture and food sectors. Agricultural machinery and machinery for the food industry were the most important agriculture-related goods exported by the Netherlands. However, these exports fell by 4 to 5% in comparison with 2019. Exports of greenhouse materials grew by 19%, mainly due to an increase in exports of these materials to the UK. Fertiliser exports fell by 9%.


Figure 4: Export of agriculture-related goods (Source: Statistics Netherlands (figures until October 2020), WUR and Statistics Netherlands (estimate for November through December 2020).)
Figure 4: Export of agriculture-related goods (Source: Statistics Netherlands (figures until October 2020), WUR and Statistics Netherlands (estimate for November through December 2020).)

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