Import surge puts Mercosur on equal footing with US for European fruit

Import surge puts Mercosur on equal footing with US for European fruit

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The European Union has substantially raised its fruit export profile in Brazil despite the effects of the country’s ongoing economic and political crisis, while upticks have also been seen in shipments to other markets such as Argentina and China. 

International Trade Centre (ITC) statistics show the EU’s fruit and nut exports to the Southern Common Market (Mercosur, comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) rose 47% last year to reach €184.6 million (£164.6 million).

The bulk of these European fruit purchases were from Mercosur’s largest nation Brazil with imports of €167 million.

The leading category in trade to the South American trade bloc was pome fruit, registering a 72% increase to €95 million, while the story was also positive for the EU’s stonefruit (+13.7%; €30.7 million), berries (+47%; €24.6 million) and citrus (+31.3%; €20.4 million).

The blocs imports of pome fruit and stonefruit were almost entirely from Brazil, but in berries and citrus Argentina was a very important driver of growth as well.

Argentina’s berry imports from the EU rose by 56% in 2016 to reach €5.3 million, while its citrus imports from the old continent were €4.4 million compared to nothing in 2015.

Interestingly, this upward trend combined with a €28.3 million shortfall in the USA’s imports of EU fruit means Mercosur overtook the country last year, but only just.

The Iberian Peninsula is the leading source of the EU’s fruit trade with Mercosur countries, with Spain accounting for 44% and Portugal making up 24%.

Spain saw a 44% rise in its exports to the region last year, led by stonefruit, pome fruit and citrus, while Portugal’s increase was minor at 6% and driven mainly by pears.

Italy was actually a larger supplier to Mercosur than Portugal however, accounting for 27% of the EU’s total with €50.8 million, representing a jump of 131% on the previous year. Pome fruit and berries were the main contributors for the Mediterranean country.

France’s pome fruit exports to Mercosur rose almost three times to reach €4.5 million.

Exports to China

According to figures released by Spanish horticultural grower association Fepex, drawing on data from Eurostat, EU member states’ fruit and vegetable exports to China rose 50% year-on-year in the first four months of 2017.

While the figure only represents 1.7% of exports to non-EU countries, it still reached a sizable level of €28.9 million.

Fepex reported the EU’s shipments to China for the period were largely driven by a 67% rise in citrus exports to €18.9 million, while pome fruit exports were up by a similar percentage of 66% at €3 million.

Looking at last year’s data, China’s imports of EU fruit and vegetables for the 2016 calendar year reached €54 million, representing a 49% rise on 2015.

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