The European Union’s fruit and vegetable exports to non-EU countries dropped 7% in volume and 1% in value in the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2016.
Eurostat data analysed by Spanish horticultural grower association Fepex show the bloc exported 2.9 million metric tonnes (MT) of fruit and vegetables in the first six months of this year, with a total value of €2.4 billion (£2.1 billion).
The decline in volume was more pronounced for fruit at 8% (1.8 million MT) but value actually increased 1%, reaching €1.45 billion (£1.28 billion).
One million MT of pome fruit were exported during the period bringing in €497 million (£440 million), representing a 7% drop in volume and a 6% drop in value.
Citrus was the second-largest fruit export crop with 331,894MT, and even though volume was down 11% the export return was actually 2% higher at €227.1 million (£201.4 million).
Vegetable export volume fell 7% to 1.1 million MT with a value of €953.4 million (£845.8), representing a drop of 3%.
The leading crop category was onions and garlic with 390,047MT combined (+7%), but their value was down by almost a quarter at €145 million (£126 million). Meanwhile, potato export volumes were down 13% at 361,355MT, with a 7% decline in value to €161.7 million (£143 million).
The leading destination for non-EU fruit and vegetable exports from the community was Belarus with 700,605MT, representing a 6.6% fall. The landlocked Eastern European country was then followed by Switzerland (340,524MT; -4.5%) and Norway (183,215MT; -18%).
Other destination markets included Serbia (122,873MT), the Ukraine (94,109MT), Egypt (90,317MT) and Brazil (83,461MT).
Fepex highlighted these figures carry on from a trend seen in 2016 when exports to non-EU countries were down 9% compared to 2015, reflecting the difficulty involved in gaining access to new markets.