Italian food exports to non-EU countries are doing well

According to an analysis by Confagricoltura, exports grew also during the lockdown due to coronavirus emergency

According to an analysis by Italian farmers association Confagricoltura – based on customs agency data – Italian food exports to non-EU countries did well in the period January-April 2020. Despite the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, export values grew by +3.7% compared to the first four months of 2019. Although not uniformly in all F&B sectors.

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Looking at the different products categories, the Italian food exports to non-EU countries most relevant increases concern vegetables (+30%) and meat (+25%). Without forgetting bakery products, processed fruit and vegetables, and cold cuts (+15%), olive oil (+11%), and rice (+10%).

Exports of Italy’s main food products to non-EU countries (January-April 2019 and 2020 – mio euros)

Product20192020Var. %
Still and Sparkling wines1000.91033.7+3.3%
Olive oil283.7315.7+11.3%
Meat and offal141.7177.3+25.2%
Flowers and plants93.870.3-25%
Bakery and Pastry227.7262.9+15.4%
Processed vegetables and fruit360414.1+15%
Dairy products 262.8268.7+2.3%
Preserved meat and preparations21.419.6-8.1%
Cured meats3135.5+14.7%

Source: Confagricoltura Study Centre based on data from the Customs Agency

On the other hand, there are significant decreases for flowers and plants (-25%), pasta (-14%), fruit (-9%), and preserved meat (-8%). Nine out of the fourteen examined product categories’ exports grew in 2020 and, of these, seven increased more than 10%. Out of the five product categories with declining export values, three show negative trends of more than 10%.

Still and sparkling wines, cheese and dairy products showed strong growth in January (+24% and +60% respectively), and negative trends in the following three months. The opposite can be said for cereals and olive oil. As far as pasta is concerned, after three months of strong growth it fell by 48% in April.

Exports of the main agricultural and food industry products from Italy to non-EU countries – Percentage changes 2019-2020 per month (January-April period)

Still and Sparkling wines+24.2%-1.6%-3.8%-2.7%
Olive oil-5.7%-3%+22.3%+31.7%
Meat and offal+32.6%+19.1%+23.7%+26.6%
Flowers and plants-19%-8.8%-32.4%-30.2%
Bakery and Pastry+26.2%+17.6%+6.5%+12.6%
Processed vegetables and fruit+18.2%+5.1%+16.5%+20.6%
Dairy products+59.8%-13.3%-11.2%-18.6%
Preserved meat and preparations+29.2%+2.5%-17.4%-37%
Cured meats+24.6%+27.2%+15.7%-3.3%

Source: Confagricoltura Study Centre based on data from the Customs Agency


According to Confagricoltura analysis, the value of Italian food exports in 2019 totaled 44.6 billion euros: 6.8 billion euros for agricultural products (15%) and 37.8 billion for food industry products (85%).

Exports to non-EU countries are worth 16.3 billion euros, equal to 37% of the total. About 91% of total value (14.9 billion euro) refers to food industry products, and the remaining 9% (1.4 billion euro) to agricultural products. The main buyer of Italian food products from outside the EU is Switzerland (326 million, equal to 23.1% of the total), followed at considerable distance by the United Arab Emirates (104, 7.3%) and the United States (101, 7.2%). As far as food industry products are concerned, the first buyer is the United States (4.55 billion or 30.6% of the total), followed by Japan (1.85, 12.4%) and Switzerland (1.26, 8.5%).

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