Agricultural exports hit record level

© Hollandse Hoogte / Robin Utrecht
Dutch exports of agricultural goods reached an estimated value of 94.5 billion euros in 2019, an increase of 4.6 percent on the previous year. This is reported by Wageningen Economic Research (WUR) and Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of joint research commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.


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Last year, imports of agricultural goods rose by 3.7 percent to an estimated total value of 64.1 billion euros over 2019. The agricultural trade surplus exceeded the amount of 30 billion euros for the first time, ending at 30.5 billion euros. Agricultural trade accounts for almost 55 percent of the total surplus in goods trade.
Price developments play an important role in the growth in export value. Around two-thirds of the export growth is due to increases in price, while one-third is on account of volume growth. In imports, price and volume each account for approximately half of the value growth.

Value of pork exports to China has tripled

At 9.5 billion euros, the highest export value in agricultural goods last year was achieved with ornamental horticultural products such as fresh flowers, plants, bulbs and nursery products. These were followed by meat (8.8 billion), dairy and eggs (8.6 billion), vegetables (7.3 billion), fruit (6.2 billion) and beverages (5.8 billion).
The export value of meat increased by 8 percent last year. The export to China of pig meat (not including slaughterhouse waste) in particular rose sharply from 117 million euros in 2018 to an estimated 377 million euros in 2019. This is related to outbreaks of African swine fever in large parts of Asia, which have boosted Chinese demand for pork from elsewhere and driven up price levels.

Bulk of agricultural exports domestically produced

The export of agricultural goods includes both Dutch domestic products (68.5 billion euros) and re-exports (26 billion euros). In 2019, the Netherlands earned an estimated amount of 41.9 billion euros in export revenues; this is 3.7 percent more than in 2018 (40.4 billion euros).
Dutch domestic exports account for 92 percent of total export revenues, with the remaining 8 percent generated by re-exports.

Export value of agricultural goods, 2019* (bn euros)
 Dutch-madeRe-exports
Ornamental horticulture8.41.1
Meat7.81.0
Dairy, eggs7.01.6
Vegetables6.11.2
Fruits1.34.9
Beverages4.21.7
Processed fruits and vegetables3.71.6
Preparations of cereals, flour or milk4.40.7
Food processing residues, livestock feed3.31.4
Cocoa preparations2.91.8
Source: CBS, WUR
*Based on estimates

Quarter of agricultural exports are to Germany

Similar to previous years, Germany was the top destination of agricultural exports from the Netherlands in 2019, with a total export value of 23.6 billion euros (25 percent), followed by Belgium (11 percent), the United Kingdom (9 percent) and France (8 percent) and Italy (4 percent).
Exports to Germany (+4 percent on 2018) and Belgium (+5 percent) grew more rapidly than exports to the United Kingdom and France (both +1 percent). The most significant riser in the top ten of export markets was China (+22 percent). Aside from growing demand for Dutch pork, there has been increasing demand for Dutch baby milk powder among other products.

Top ten export destinations of agricultural goods, 2019* ( bn euros)
CountriesExport value
Germany23.6
Belgium10.8
UK8.7
France7.7
Italy3.6
China3.0
Spain2.8
Poland2.6
US2.6
Sweden2.1
Source: CBS, WUR
*Based on estimates

Exports of agriculture-related goods at record high

The export value of agriculture-related goods (e.g. agricultural machinery and fertilisers) rose by 8.3 percent to a record level of 9.9 billion euros in 2019. With an export value of 104.4 billion euros, total exports of agricultural and agriculture-related goods exceeded the 100 billion euro-mark for the first time.
Germany (1.5 billion euros), Belgium (1.0 billion euros), France (0.9 billion euros), the United Kingdom (0.7 billion euros) and the United States (0.6 billion euros) occupied a combined share of 47 percent in the export of agriculture-related goods last year. The four European countries mainly import fertilisers and agricultural machinery, while the United States mainly imports agricultural and machinery for the food industry.

Agricultural machinery and machinery for the food industry together account for more than half of the total export earnings from agriculture-related goods.