The Netherlands largest EU importer of Brazilian agricultural goods

Green soybeans on plant stems
© Getty Images/iStockphoto
In 2021, the Netherlands was the EU’s largest direct importer of agricultural goods from Brazil. Brazil’s agricultural exports have grown considerably in recent years; the country is now the third largest agricultural exporter worldwide, after the United States and the Netherlands. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of newly released figures.

Between (the pre-pandemic year) 2019 and 2021, Dutch agricultural imports from Brazil grew by 19 percent in value to 3.5 billion euros, and by 9 percent to 5.9 billion kg in terms of weight. Brazil’s exports of soybeans in particular rose sharply in value, due to an increased import volume and sharply rising prices.

In 2021, the Netherlands was the EU’s largest importer of agricultural goods from Brazil. Spain (2.4 billion euros), Germany (2.3 billion), Italy (1.5 billion) and France (1.0 billion) follow at a great distance. Dutch imports mainly consist of soybeans, soybean meal, fruit juices, fruit and meat. Spain imports more soybeans from Brazil than the Netherlands, but relatively few other agricultural goods. Germany, on the other hand, mainly focuses on the import of Brazilian coffee. There is barely any coffee trade directly from Brazil to the Netherlands.

Around four fifths of the Brazilian agricultural goods imported by the Netherlands eventually end up abroad: either directly as re-export or indirectly after domestic processing into new products.

EU's largest importers of agricultural goods from Brazil, 2021
 Soybeans (million euros)Soybean meal (million euros)Fruit juices (million euros)Fruit (million euros)Meat (million euros)Coffee (million euros)Other (million euros)
Source: CBS, Eurostat

Brazil the largest supplier of agricultural goods to the EU

In 2021, Brazil was the main supplier of agricultural goods from outside the EU. It is closely followed by former EU member the United Kingdom, which is a major supplier of alcoholic beverages to the EU. Next are the United States (e.g. soybeans and nuts), Norway (almost exclusively fish), China (e.g. fish and seafood), Ukraine (mainly maize and sunflower oil), Indonesia (mainly palm oil), Argentina (mainly soybean meal), Turkey (e.g. fruit) and Russia (mainly wood).

Most of the agricultural trade, however, took place within the EU. When this trade is included, the Netherlands was the largest agricultural supplier to the EU, followed by Germany, France and Spain.

Agricultural exports to the EU, 2021
LandAgricultural exports to the EU (bn euros)
United Kingdom13.6
United States10.9
Source: CBS, Eurostat

Brazil overtakes Germany as third largest agricultural exporter

In 2021, Brazil's agricultural exports increased by 19 percent relative to 2020, overtaking Germany as the third largest agricultural exporter worldwide. However, the difference is marginal (106.4 billion versus 105.7 billion US dollars in 2021. The United States was the top agricultural exporter (196.0 billion US dollars in 2021), followed by the Netherlands (125.2 billion in 2021).

The Netherlands exports large volumes of domestic agricultural goods, but also owes its strong export position to re-exports and the processing of agricultural imports for its own exports.

World's largest agricultural exporters
 United States (bn US dollars)Netherlands (bn US dollars)Brazil (bn US dollars)Germany (bn US dollars)
Source: CBS, UN Comtrade