Facts and figures on German agricultural exports

The German agricultural and food industries are well positioned internationally: Germany has for many years been the world's third largest overall exporter of agricultural goods and the No. 1 exporter of confectionery, cheese, pork and agricultural technology.

Food from Germany is an export hit: one third of the total output of German agriculture goes into exports, the food industry generates one third of its total revenue in export activities.

German agricultural exports continued to develop positively over recent years. Following the economic slump in 2009 caused by the financial crisis, exports increased continuously until 2017. However, there was a new decline for the first time in 2018. At 71.6 billion euros, exports were 2.6 percent below the 2017 level. However, the figures so far available for 2019 indicate a significant renewed increase in exports. Added to this are the exports of agricultural technology which are not included in the figures for exports of agricultural goods. Here, too, “Made in Germany” was in demand in 2018. Agricultural technology exports increased by 5.7 percent compared with the previous year and reached a new high of 9.2 billion euros. German agricultural imports also decreased slightly in 2018. Compared with 2017, imports fell by 0.4 percent to around 85.2 billion euros.

EU remains the most important sales market

Accounting for more than three quarters of all exports, the EU remained the most important sales market for German agricultural goods in 2018. The 27 Member States also accounted for just under 71 percent of imports. In trade with EU partners, exports decreased by 1.4 percent to 56.0 billion euros.

Our direct neighbour, the Netherlands, remained by far the most important country of origin and country of destination in agricultural trade: the Netherlands accounted for around 27 percent (16.1 billion euros) of German agricultural imports from the EU and for around 18 percent of German exports (9.8 billion euros) within the EU. As in previous years, France (6.4 billion euros) and Italy (5.7 billion euros) followed as the next most important markets for German agricultural goods, making up around 11 and 10 percent respectively of intra-Community exports. Germany recorded the highest positive balance in agricultural trade with the United Kingdom (plus 3.2 billion euros).

A large part of foreign trade with the Netherlands results from third country imports and exports via the port of Rotterdam.

Trade with third countries is an important pillar of the German export industry

Like agricultural trade as a whole, agricultural trade with countries outside the EU declined in 2018 (- 5.7 percent). Around 22 percent of German agricultural exports went to third countries in 2018. The three main third countries of destination remained unchanged as well. Most exports went to Switzerland (2.1 billion euros), followed by the U.S. (1.9 billion euros) and China (1.5 billion euros). However, agricultural exports to these countries developed very differently compared with the previous year. For example, exports to Switzerland rose by 1.6 percent, while those to the U.S. and the People's Republic of China fell by 1.5 percent and 4.7 percent respectively.

The BMEL underpins the export efforts of the German agri-food sector, in particular of small and medium-sized enterprises. The focus is on fast-growing industrialised and emerging countries with good purchasing power. The BMEL's activities do not focus on least developed countries.

“Made in Germany” stands for innovation, quality and safety

“Made in Germany” stands for innovation, quality and safety with regard to foodstuffs. The renowned high quality of German products, which is increasingly complemented by the introduction of quality assurance systems across all stages, provides a good basis for further export successes.

The German food industry is particularly strong and competitive on foreign markets in respect of high-quality processed products (with high value-added).

About one third of the total production of German agriculture is exported. Exports also account for one third of the total turnover of the German food industry. Particularly in structurally weaker regions, the agricultural and food industry contributes greatly to adding value and to safeguarding jobs.


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