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What is the demand for natural food additives on the European market?

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Europe has one of the largest food and drink markets in the world. There is high demand for natural food additives as food companies shift away from synthetic ingredients and consumers look for products with natural ingredients. Many food additives are from developing countries, so there are good opportunities for exporters.

According to the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA), food additives are substances added intentionally to foodstuffs to perform certain technological functions, for example to colour, to sweeten or to help preserve foods. This study focuses on natural ingredients for food additives that are produced in developing countries. There are various groups of food additives, such as:

- food colourants
- preservatives
- antioxidants
- sweeteners
- flavour enhancers
- emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickening and gelling agents
- others

1 . What makes Europe an interesting market for natural food additives?

The European food and drink market is growing at a healthy pace, which is expected to continue in the future. The sizeable market and its healthy growth rates make the European ingredients market attractive. This creates an opportunity for suppliers of natural food additives from developing countries.

Table 1 shows historic and projected growth rates for the European food market. In 2013, the European food market was worth €707 billion. The market grew by 3.4% to reach €834.7 billion in 2018.

The European food market is expected to continue growing at a stable rate, forecast to be worth €943 billion in 2023.

Table 1. European food market revenue forecasts 2013–2023

                                                                                                                  Revenues     Growth
Year                                                                                                          (€ million)      (%)

2013 ......................................................................................................... 707,610            -

2014.......................................................................................................... 734,170         3.8

2015 ......................................................................................................... 762,670         3.9

2016 ......................................................................................................... 777,250         1.9

2017.......................................................................................................... 807,030         3.8

2018.......................................................................................................... 834,740         3.4

2019.......................................................................................................... 861,450         3.2

2020.......................................................................................................... 887,560         3.0

2021.......................................................................................................... 915,490         3.1

2022.......................................................................................................... 928,680         1.4

2023.......................................................................................................... 943,300         1.6

Note: All figures are rounded

Source: Statista


  • Stay up to date on the European food and drink market by visiting
  • Do research on EU regulations on novel foods and ingredients at the site of the EFSA. See the CBI buyer requirements study on requirements for natural colours, flavours and thickeners in the European market, where you can find details on the regulations for exporting to the EU.

As highlighted in the CBI trends report, one of the main trends in food and drink is the increasing demand for organic food and drink products. Table 2 shows that the European market for organic food and drink continues to expand. This trend is expected to continue in the future, thanks to the growing availability of organic food and rising consumer awareness of about it.

Table 2. European market for organic food and drink, growth rates 2012–2017

                                                                                Revenues           Growth
Year                                                                         (€ billion)           (%)

2012 ................................................................................ 20.9              -

2013................................................................................. 22.1           5.7

2014 ................................................................................ 24.0           8.6

2015 ................................................................................ 27.4          14.2

2016................................................................................. 30.9          12.8

2017................................................................................. 34.3          11.0

Note: All figures are rounded

Source: Ecovia Intelligence

European consumers are willing to pay more for high-quality and healthy products, while demand for organic food and drink is increasing in Europe. According to a Nielsen survey, approximately 27% of global respondents are willing and 23% are slightly willing to pay a premium for healthy foods, while approximately 33% of respondents are willing to pay more for organic products.

Some major conventional food companies are tapping into this trend. Dutch-Anglo consumer goods company Unilever has acquired a number of health and wellness brands in recent years, including snacks company Graze in January 2019 and Dutch meat alternative company The Vegetarian Butcher in December 2018.

Many multinational companies have developed organic lines to complement their conventional product lines. In September 2018, Swiss-based multinational Nestlé launched organic versions of popular conventional products, such as Chocapic, Nesquik and Cheerios. In 2017, Nestlé launched a new version of its Stouffer's macaroni and cheese with healthier and fresher ingredients, having removed some artificial colours, flavours and preservatives from its ingredients list.

Organic food and beverage products also restrict the use of synthetic food additives. This creates an opportunity for natural additive suppliers in developing countries. As the organic food market is expected to expand, there will be higher demand for natural food additives.

Demand for natural ingredients is coming from the conventional food sector as well as the organic food sector. According to Euromonitor, natural ingredients are leading consumer trends: Approximately 47% of global consumers ask for natural products and 55% of respondents look for natural features when buying products in at least one category.

According to Allied Market Research, the global natural food and drink market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.7% between 2017 and 2023. It was valued at US$79 billion in 2016, with Europe being the second largest market.


  • Learn more about the European flavourings market on the website of EFFA.
  • Visit for more information on specialty ingredients in Europe. Specialty food ingredients have wider functional and technological benefits and are often used in processed food products with specific nutritional qualities, such as low sugar, fat or sodium content. Many natural food additives imported from developing countries fit the specialty food ingredients label, including natural sweeteners, gums and oleoresins. Use this information about your ingredients when targeting buyers.
  • Learn more about food ingredient trends and developments and meet industry operators at the main food ingredients trade show in Europe, FI Europe.
  • Learn more about sustainable ingredients for the food industry at the Sustainable Foods Summit, hosted in Europe (Amsterdam, June), Latin America (São Paulo, November), North America (San Francisco, January) and Asia-Pacific (Singapore, March).

Chart 1 shows the global food ingredients market was worth €253 billion in 2017. This market is projected to expand by approximately 6% per year to reach €339 billion by 2022.

The European food additives market was valued at US$12.23 billion in 2018. The market is projected to show a compound annual growth rate of 5.1% between 2018 and 2023. The upward trend creates opportunities for suppliers of natural food additives in developing countries.

Demand for natural food additives in Europe is increasing because of an increasing health-conscious population. Robust EU regulations on the use of synthetic additives also generate demand for natural food additives. European food manufacturers are investing in R&D and developing innovative products.

Interesting product groups for suppliers in developing countries include natural sweeteners, emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners, gelling agents and natural flavours. High demand for natural sweeteners is coming from the organic food sector since such consumers are more health conscious and look for products that have low sugar content. Natural sweeteners have a diverse range of applications in the European market, including confectionery products, beverages, breakfast cereals and dairy products.

Natural sweeteners are also used in drink products. According to Mintel, new beverage product launches with stevia grew by 161% between 2012 and 2017.

Other natural sweeteners, such as coconut sugar, are also gaining popularity in the European market. Coconut sugar caters to consumers who buy organic and more eco-friendly products. Coconut is marketed as more environmentally friendly because coconut palms produce 50%-75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar.

Natural emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents represent a good opportunity for suppliers in developing countries, thanks to growing demand for healthier products from European consumers. Hydrocolloids have a wide range of applications, such as bakery products, confectionery products, meats and beverage products. Rising demand for ready-meals and processed foods also generates demand.

Natural flavours are in high demand in the European market partly because of their relatively low costs and rising consumer demand for natural products. Natural flavours have become mainstream in some European countries, partly because of the burgeoning organic food market and rising demand for processed foods.

2 . Which European markets offer most opportunities for natural food additives?

Europe has a significantly large food and beverage manufacturing industry. Suppliers of natural food additives from developing countries should target countries with a strong food manufacturing industry, such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, the UK and Spain.

These country markets comprise the leading importers of natural food ingredients in Europe. Plus, Germany, France and Italy also have significant food processing sectors.

Chart 2 shows that Europe is the biggest importer of agri-food products: €117 billion in 2017. The United States follows with €115 billion. In Europe, the value of imports increased by 4.5% compared to 2016. The main country suppliers of agri-food products to Europe are Brazil, the United States and Argentina.

According to Food and Drink Europe, approximately 66% of the total food and drink industry turnover comes from the EU’s five biggest food and drink country producers. These country markets are France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Spain, suggesting that these countries are the most important for food additives.

Approximately 99% of food and drink companies in Europe are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), generating around 50% of the food and drink turnover in Europe. The large number of SMEs provides opportunities for exporters in developing countries.


Germany is the third largest importer and exporter of agricultural food products worldwide. The product categories with the largest shares within agri-food products in Germany are meat and sausage products (24%), dairy products (15%), baked goods (10%) and confectionery (8%).

In Europe, Germany is the largest important importer of lac, gums and resins in terms of volume. Chart 3 shows that imports to Germany from outside and within the EU have been decreasing in volume in the last few years at the expense of other countries. The value of German imports reached €285 million in 2018, which is a 15% increase from €248 million in 2012, in spite of declining volumes, because of prices increases.

Germany is a significant importer of essential oils. In 2018, around 657,563 tonnes (Comext) were imported to Germany in 2018. The volume of essential oil imports to Germany increased by about 53% from 428,109 tonnes in 2012. Chart 4 shows that Germany is also one of the biggest suppliers of essential oils in Europe.

Germany is also the largest importer of natural colourants in Europe. However, imports to Germany have been decreasing from 26 thousand tonnes in 2012 to about 10,150 tonnes in 2018.

Natural sweeteners are in high demand in the German market. These ingredients cater to educated German consumers looking for healthier and high-quality products.

The food industry is one of the most important sectors in the country. There are approximately six thousand small and medium-sized enterprises in the sector in Germany. Important sectors include meat and meat processing, dairy, confectionery, bakery and alcoholic beverages.

Germany is the third largest exporter of food products in the world. Both the domestic demand and export market have increased in the last few years, as German consumers are willing to pay more for high-quality products.

The German organic food market is the largest in Europe, valued at €10 billion in 2017. Organic foods are widely accessible to consumers in Germany, with approximately 60% sold via mainstream retailers.


France is a leading importer of food ingredients. The country has a large food processing sector, but is also an important re-exporter of natural ingredients to other European countries.

France is a major importer of gums, essential oils and natural sweeteners. The country is the biggest importer and exporter of gum arabic (US$ 114 million). Nexira is an important supplier, having the largest market share in Europe.

France is the third leading importer of lac, gums and resins into Europe in volume and second in value. Import volume has decreased from 64,681 tonnes in 2012 to about 28,841 tonnes in 2018, but value rose by approximately 20% within the same period to reach €242.6 million in 2018.

France is one of the leading importers and exporters of essential oils in Europe. The country has an important flavouring sector including some of the major flavouring companies, such as MANE and Naturex (Givaudan), which are based in France.

France is the third leading importer of natural colourants in Europe. Both the volumes and the value of natural colourants to France increased between 2012 and 2018. Chart 4 shows imports to France from outside and within the EU.

France has an important market for natural sweeteners, such as stevia. French consumers demand high-quality, innovative and healthy products.

The food sector leads the industrial sector in France, growing by 3.8% to be worth €185 million. The sixth largest food exporter in the world, France’s domestic market accounts for about 75% of its food industry’s revenues. The most important sectors are meats, dairy, beverages and confectionery.

The French organic food market is the second largest in Europe, worth €7.9 billion. Between 2011 and 2016, the organic food sector grew by approximately 82%. Demand for organic food in France is expected to continue. Mainstream retailers are highly active in marketing organic foods and improving accessibility to organic products.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a significant entry point for food ingredients. The country is one of the leading importers of natural colourants and essential oils. Imports of lac, gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts to the Netherlands have decreased in volume by 39% between 2012 and 2018.

The food sector in the Netherlands had a turnover of approximately €58 billion in 2018. The meat and dairy processing industries are the most important. The share of small and medium-sized businesses accounts for 24% in the dairy industry and 19% in the meat industry.

The Netherlands is the second largest agricultural exporter in the world. Approximately 78% of Dutch agricultural exports go to EU countries, such as Germany, Belgium, the UK and France.

In 2017, the Dutch organic food market was worth €1.2 billion. According to the 2018 Food and Economic report of the Netherlands, total spending on sustainable foods reached €4.5 billion in 2017, a 19% increase compared to 2016. Between 2013 and 2016, the turnover of sustainable foods increased by 68%.


Italy is also a significant importer and food and drink producer in Europe. Italy is the second leading importer of lac, gums and resins in terms of volume. The volume of lac, gums and resins imported to Italy increased from 21,852 tonnes in 2012 to about 30,305 tonnes in 2018. However, in terms of value, Italy ranks fourth in Europe, after Germany, France and Spain.

The Italian food processing industry is dependent on food ingredient imports. The most important food sectors in Italy are bakery products, dairy products, processed meats, and seafood.

The Italian organic food market is the third largest in Europe, worth €3.1 billion in 2017, supported by increasing demand for high-quality, premium products and rinsing consumer awareness.

Specialist retailers and farmers’ markets are the most important sales channels for organic food in Italy. However, mainstream retailers are gaining market share, especially in packaged foods.

The UK

The UK is a leading importer and exporter of ingredients to Europe. However, its position in Europe is unclear because of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. The UK is the second leading European importer of essential oils.

The British food industry generated €114.3 billion in revenues. Approximately 97% of the food and beverages companies in the UK food industry are small and medium-sized enterprises.

The UK’s organic food market is the sixth largest in Europe, worth €2.3 billion. Supermarkets are the most important sales channels, followed by specialist retailers. Dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and packaged foods are popular product categories.

Brexit is causing uncertainty, influencing many parts of the food industry, including regulations, labelling, logistics, as well as safety and quality standards. There are also trade risks, since approximately 61% of British food and drink exports go to the EU.


Spain is the fourth leading importer of lac, gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts in terms of volume. Spanish imports increased from 17,007 tonnes in 2012 to about 22,640 tonnes in 2018. In value, imports increased by approximately 87% in the same period to reach €196 million in 2018.

Spain is the third leading importer of natural colourants in Europe. In 2018, import volume reached 5,310 tonnes, growing almost 26% in comparison with 2012. In value, Spain’s natural colourant imports increased from €29.5 million in 2012 to approximately €32.2 million in 2018.

According to the Spanish Federation for the Food and Beverage Industry, the Spanish food industry generated €102 billion in 2017. Spanish food exports amounted to €30.6 billion, an increase of 9%.

There is an growing trend to organic and sustainable foods in Spain. According to FiBL, the Spanish organic food market was worth €1.9 billion in 2017.


Many food ingredient distributors are also located in Germany, the UK, France and the Netherlands. Smaller food manufacturers tend to source their ingredients from distributors, rather than from food ingredient companies.


  • Focus on Western European countries when targeting the European market, because these are the biggest importers of food additives in general and natural food additives as well.
  • Approach importers and distributors of food ingredients in Europe, since only large European food companies import directly from outside Europe. Look at identifying and approaching companies that specialise in food ingredients, such as Agrana, Ariza and Steinhauser Group.

3 . Which products from developing countries have most potential in the European Market?

European markets have strong demand for natural food additives. Those that present opportunities for exporters in developing countries include gum arabic, guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, agar, coconut sugar and stevia.

There is growing demand for natural emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents in the European food industry, thanks to increasing consumer demand for more natural and healthier food products and rising awareness among European consumers.

Food additives are also used in healthier, free-from products, such as products with lower sodium content. Growing demand for high-quality food products, as well as increasing demand for packaged and processed food in Europe is increasing the use of natural emulsifiers, stabilisers, gums, thickeners and gelling agents in food products.

Natural sweeteners also present an opportunity for exporters of natural food additives from developing countries. Rising rates of obesity and other chronic diseases in Europe make consumers look for healthier food products. Stevia is becoming a popular ingredient, especially in the beverages sector.

Coconut sugar appeals to consumers looking for organic and more environmentally friendly products. Since the organic food market is forecast to continue to grow in Europe, demand for coconut sugar is also expected to increase.

Food Colourants

Food colourants are food additives which are added to foods to enhance natural colours, to make up for colour losses and to add colour to foods that would otherwise be colourless or coloured differently. Food colourants are used in a wide range of products, including dairy products, snacks, margarine, beverages and condiments.

Table 3. Natural colourants allowed in the EU

E Numbers


HS Code





(i) Riboflavin



(ii) Riboflavin-5'-phosphate



Cochineal; Carminic acid; Carmines



Chlorophylls and chlorophyllins



Vegetable carbon






Annatto; Bixin; Norbixin



Paprika extract; Capsanthian; Capsorubin






Beta-apo-8'-carotenal (C30)









Beetroot Red; Betanin






Calcium carbonate


The use of natural colourants is on the rise as food companies look to replace synthetic ingredients with natural variants. Some natural colourants are likely to be in demand from developing countries, including E100 curcumin, E160b annatto and E160d lycopene.

Table 4. Turmeric imports to the EU 2011–2018, value in € thousand, volume in 1,000 tonnes











Eu28 value









% change









Eu28 volume









% change










Source: Comext

Curcumin is derived from the turmeric plant root. It is used in beverages, condiments, confectionery, dairy products, fish products, dietary supplements, processed meats and vegetables.

Table 4 shows that imports of turmeric to the EU increased from 10 thousand tonnes in 2011 to 19 thousand tonnes in 2018, while value increased by approximately 46% in the same period. Most of the turmeric imported into Europe comes from India.

Table 4 also shows a substantial rise in demand for turmeric in Europe, which is expected to continue to grow.

Annatto seed is harvested in countries such as Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Jamaica, East Africa and the Philippines. It is mainly used in cheese, margarine and tofu. Demand for Annatto is expected to grow in the future, as the market for annatto is projected to grow by 3.5% CAGR between 2018 and 2023.

Lycopene can be sourced from papayas and watermelons, and is used in tomato-based foods.



Antioxidants are additives used to prevent rancidity in food due to oxidation. The main purpose of antioxidants is to lengthen shelf life. Table 4 shows examples of natural antioxidants used in food products, which are in high demand as food companies look to move away from synthetic ingredients.

Table 5. Natural antioxidants allowed in the EU

E Numbers


HS Code


Ascorbic acid






Extracts of rosemary



The most common natural antioxidants in the European market are ascorbic acid, tocopherols and extracts of rosemary. Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is found in various fruits and vegetables. Tocopherols are mainly present in vegetable oils, such as soya bean oil or sunflower oil. Extracts of rosemary are obtained from the rosemary plant using solvents suitable for human consumption.

Natural Sweeteners

Natural sweeteners are increasingly used in place of sugar in food and beverage products. According to a 2016 survey of 2,500 European consumers, approximately 60% of adults monitor how much sugar they consume. The natural sweeteners in table 6 below are now approved for use in the EU.

Table 6. Natural sweeteners allowed in the EU

E Numbers


HS Code


(i) Sorbitol



(ii) Sorbitol syrup









Neohesperidine DC



Steviol glycoside





Stevia is one of the most popular natural sweeteners. The global stevia market is growing and expected to reach US$ 1 billion (€0.85 billion) by 2023. Product launches with stevia increased from 479 in 2010 to 3,526 in 2017. Demand has been particularly strong in the drinks sector.

Germany is the leading market for stevia-based sweeteners in Europe. Some of the most important cultivation regions are Africa, South America and Asia-Pacific. However, some cultivation is also taking place in Europe.

Other natural sweeteners include monk fruit, palm sugar, coconut sugar and yacon syrup. These types of natural sweeteners are not as widely used by European food companies. The demand for these sweeteners depends on the willingness of R&D departments to use them as ingredients.

Honey is also used as a natural sweetener. Food manufacturers choose honey as it is considered to be a healthier alternative to sugar. However, honey is produced in Europe so it is not considered attractive for producers in developing countries.


Emulsifiers, Stabilisers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents

Emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents are used as food additives to prevent ingredient separation and maintain product texture consistent. They are used in a wide range of products, such as condiments, dairy products and confectionery.

Many emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilisers and gelling agents are derived from natural sources like plants and seaweeds. They can also be made by bacterial fermentation or chemical modification of natural cellulose to produce a synthetic version of the natural product.

Table 7. Natural emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents allowed in the EU

E Numbers


HS Code





Alginic acid



Sodium alginate



Potassium alginate



Ammonium alginate



Calcium alginate









Processed eucheuma seaweed



Locust bean gum; carob gum



Guar gum






Acacia gum; gum arabic



Xanthan gum



Karaya gum



Tara gum



Gellan gum






Soybean hemicellulose



Cassia gum











Table 7 shows a list of natural emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents allowed in the EU. Natural ingredients, such as gum arabic or acacia gum, guar gum and locust bean gum are in demand because of their unique properties. They are used as a substitute for fat in low-fat and fat-free food products. Other applications and functionalities depend on the individual type of gums.

Table 8. Imports of gum arabic from outside the EU 2011–2018, value in € thousand, volume in 1,000 tonnes

Gum Arabic









EU28 value









% change









EU28 volume









% change









Source: Eurostat

Table 8 shows that import volumes are of gum arabic into the EU are stable but prices have been declining in recent years. Imports of gum arabic increased from 47 thousand tonnes in 2011 to 63 thousand tonnes in 2018, but import values have been decreasing since 2015. In 2018, the value decreased another 8% in comparison with 2017, to reach €78 million in spite of volumes increasing slightly.

Approximately 102 thousand tonnes of gum arabic were exported annually from the gum belt region between 2014 and 2016. The exported amount of processed gum arabic reached 53 thousand tonnes per year between 2014 and 2016. Increasing local processing to even out the unequal value distribution in the supply chain remains an important challenge for producers in developing countries.

European importers are heavily dependent on Sudan for the supply of gum arabic, as Sudan produces approximately 66% of the global supply and 83% of all European gum arabic imports from outside EU-28. Due to political instability in Sudan, European exporters are open to finding new suppliers. Nigeria, Chad, Senegal and Mali are other suppliers of gum arabic. Despite significant progress in recent years, producers in these countries face many obstacles, including infrastructure, production disruptions, and quality issues.

The market of gum arabic is highly concentrated. French producer Nexira is estimated to hold approximately 50% of the global market, making France the most important supplier of gum arabic to EU countries. Most demand for gum arabic comes from Germany, France, the UK and Italy.

Demand for gum arabic is expected to continue to grow at a stable pace as food companies look for natural ingredients.


Guar gum is used in a variety of industries, including food. According to Market Data Forecast, the European Guar Gum Market was worth US$197.8 million (€167 million) in 2018, and is projected to grow to US$290 million (€246 million) by 2023. India is the main supplier of guar gum in the world, supplying approximately 80% of the total.

The major country importers of guar gum in Europe are Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy. Europe is the second largest market after North America. Widely in the food industry, guar gum is also used in the oil sector, so its prices fluctuate depending on demand for crude oil in the global market.

Demand for guar gum is likely to increase in the near future because of its properties, wide array of applications and stable supply. In the past, rising prices led food companies to look for cheaper alternatives. Higher prices and limited supplies pose risks for the guar gum market in Europe.

Locust bean gum (LBG) is commonly used as a thickening and gelling agent in the food industry. There is high demand from the food and beverage industry, especially the dairy sector. Between 70% and 75% of carob bean gum is produced in the Mediterranean region. European countries, such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK are the biggest markets for carob bean gum products.

Tara gum is a less popular additive, often used as an alternative to guar gum and LBG. The food industry is the main end-user of tara gum, comprising about 60%-70% of its demand. It is used in low-fat and low-calorie foods. Peru is the major supplier of tara gum, but it has also been introduced to Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Tara gum faces competition from guar gums and LBG, as well as some other synthetic gums. Demand for tara gum depends on the willingness of R&D departments to reformulate their products and use new ingredients. Competing products have been on the market much longer and are better known to formulators and importers of gums to Europe. The success of tara gum will also depend on marketing activities of tara gum suppliers.

Other natural gums, such as tragacanth and konjac gum, have niche applications.

Tragacanth is a form of dietary fibre used as a natural emulsifier, thickener, stabiliser and texturing additive. It has good properties in presence of heat or low pH and has a long shelf life. In the food industry, it is used in dressings, sauces, relishes, beverage, bakery, broths, confectionery, ice creams, soft jellied products, condiment bases and sweet pickle liquors.

Konjac gum, also known as konjac glucomannan, is used as dietary fibre and gelling agent in the pharmaceutical industry. In the food industry, it is used as thickener, texture stabiliser, emulsifier, gelling agent and preservative. Konjac gum can be found in dairy products, bakery, pastries, confectionery, dressings, drinks, spreads, processed meat products and frozen food.


  • Consider obtaining organic certification for gums, which can help access niche markets. Look up information on the EU organic certification and regulations. Organic certification can make food additives more competitive in the European market.
  • Adopt measures to improve the sustainability of your production system, such as energy reduction, reduction in water use, proper waste management. These practices can help you gain trust of buyers. Promote this information on your website and marketing materials.


Food grade essential oils can be used as flavouring in food products. Essential oils, such as peppermint, lemon, orange lavender and bergamot are commonly used in sweets, frostings, baked goods and marinades to enhance or add flavours. Thyme and marjoram are used in savoury foods.

Table 9. Imports of essential oils and oleoresins from outside the EU 2011–2018, value in € thousand, volume in 1,000 tonnes

Essential oils, oleoresins etc









EU28 value









% change









EU28 volume









% change









Source: Eurostat

Table 9 shows that imports of essential oils to EU have been increasing in volume and value in recent years. In 2018, the volume of essential oils and oleoresins imported to Europe reached 49 thousand tonnes, valued at €1 billion. The table shows that demand for essential oils and oleoresins is increasing, which is expected to continue as more food companies turn to natural ingredients.

Table 10. Imports of essential oils and oleoresins from within the EU 2011–2018, value in € thousand, volume in 1,000 tonnes

Essential oils, oleoresins etc









EU28 value









% change









EU28 volume









% change









Brazil, the Netherlands, the US, France and China are some of the main suppliers of essential oils to Europe. Countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy mainly re-export essential oils to the EU. The biggest producers are Brazil, China, India, China and Mexico.

The global essential oils market is estimated to reach US$ 11.19 billion in 2022 (€9.48 billion). The most popular essential oil types are orange and other citrus oils, which are used to add freshness to finished products.

Oleoresins as natural flavouring additives are a viable alternative to spices and essential oils. They are much more stable, dissolve in oils, fats and lipids, as opposed to essential oils.

The global oleoresin market was worth US$ 1.44 billion in 2018 (€1.22 billion). The most common oleoresins used in the food industry are paprika, black pepper, capsicum, turmeric, ginger and garlic. Demand is increasing because of their growing use in ethnic food and businesses shifting towards natural ingredients.

India is the main oleoresin producer, followed by China, the US, Sri Lanka and South Africa. The price and availability of oleoresins fluctuates depending on the harvest.

Demand for oleoresins is expected to continue to increase in the future, opening opportunities for suppliers in developing countries.

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