Exporting fruit juices to Europe
Europe is the largest market for fruit juices in the world, representing 55% of total world imports. The import continues to grow, in spite of the decreasing consumption of retail packed juices. This is because imported juices are increasingly used as ingredients in different types of beverages. Large importing and consuming markets such as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and the United Kingdom continue to offer opportunities for developing country exporters. The best opportunities can be found in the high-value segments of not-from-concentrate (NFC) juices, superfruit juices and the use of fruit juices as ingredients in soft drink “detox” beverages.
Contents of this page
- Product Description
- Which European markets offer opportunities for exporters of fruit juices?
- What trends offer opportunities on the European market for fruit juices?
- What requirements must fruit juices comply with to be allowed on the European market?
- What competition do I face on the European fruit juice market?
- Through what channels can you get fruit juices on the European market?
- What are the end-market prices fruit juices on the European market?
Regarding trade classification, all fruit juices are classified under the four-digit code 2009 by the Combined Nomenclature (Eurostat) and by the Harmonised System (World Customs Organization). When ‘fruit juice’ is referred to in this survey, it involves both single strength and concentrate, as specified in the different eight-digit codes under code 2009, unless stated otherwise.
Generally, fruit juice is defined as unfermented liquid of cells of the fruit. Although juices can be made by squeezing of fresh fruit, the majority of fruit juices in the world market are made from raw materials such as concentrated juices or purees. Fruit juices may contain pulp but do not contain:
- Pieces of shell
- Coarse or hard substances
- Excess pulp
Juice intended for export is usually concentrated and later reconstituted with water. This is because of practical reasons for lowering transportation costs. In this way transport costs for water and packaging can be saved.
Fruit purées and concentrated fruit purées are used in the manufacturing of specific juices (such as strawberry, peach, apricot etc.). They are obtained by suitable processes, for instance by sieving, grinding and milling the edible part of the whole or peeled fruit, without removing the juice.
Vitamins and minerals can be added into fruit juices. You can find approved list of additives in the European regulation on Addition of Vitamins and Minerals and in the regulation on Food Additives. Other allowed ingredients include restored flavour, pulp and cells.
The name ‘fruit juice’ is reserved for 100% fruit juices. However, if sugar, sweeteners or acid are added to the fruit juice, which is diluted with water, the product must be called nectar or fruit drink.
According to industry practice, the most important quality requirements for fruit juices are defined by the following parameters:
- Colour: characteristic of the type and variety of fruit
- Flavour and odour: distinct fruit flavour and odour, free from foreign flavours and odours
- Brix level: quality of concentrated fruit juices is mainly defined by the brix level (sugar content of an aqueous solution). Brix level directly influences the price of the product.
- Composition: the share of different types of juices in the case of mixed juice.
Additional quality requirements:
- Pulp content: pulp content is a quality indicator for certain types of juices, such as orange or pineapple. Importers may require more pulp content, as visible pulp in juices is becoming more popular among European consumers.
- Acid level: besides brix level, citric acid level is the most common parameter that influences the quality and price of some juice products.
- Fruit juices
- Concentrated fruit juices
- Dehydrated fruit juices
- Fruit nectars.
The reserved names, manufacture and labelling characteristics of the above products are also defined. Those Directives also define minimum brix levels for reconstituted fruit juice and reconstituted fruit purée. The Fruit juice directive was updated in 2009.
The product must be labelled as fruit juice, concentrated fruit juice or nectar.
Fruit nectars must declare a percentage volume of the fruit juice on the packaging. However, imports of nectars are not very common in the majority of the European countries.
The labelling of concentrated fruit juice, not intended for delivery to the final consumer, shall indicate the presence and quantity of added lemon juice, lime juice or acidifying agents.
In the case of retail packaging, product labelling must be in compliance with the European Union regulation on food Information to consumers. This regulation more clearly defines nutrition labelling, origin labelling, allergen labelling and legibility (minimum font size for mandatory information). This regulation came into effect on 13 December 2014, but the obligation to provide nutrition information will apply from 13 December 2016.
In the common case of export bulk packaging, the information required above must either be placed on the container or be given in accompanying documents. ‘Fruit juice or concentrated fruit juice’ and the name and address of the manufacturer or packer must appear on the container. It is common that product specification declares the brix and acid level.
The most common export types of concentrated fruit juices packaging are aseptic or sterile filled:
- Bag-in-Box 20 l
- Plastic container 20 l
- Steel drum 200 – 250 l
- Plastic drum 200 – 250 l
- Stainless steel container (200 to 800 l)
- Stainless steel container (200 to 800 l)
- Foldable container of usually 1,000 l
- Truck tankers of usually 25,000 l.
Regarding retail packaging, most fruit juices in the European market are sold in cartons, followed by plastic and glass.
- For more information about the evaluation of quality, identity and authenticity of fruit juices, see the Code of Practice developed by the European Fruit Juice Association. If you subscribe to this Code of Practice you will have access to reference guidelines for 25 different fruit and vegetable juices.
Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and United Kingdom offer opportunities for exports of fruit juices. In addition to the largest markets, opportunities can be found in the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe and in growing markets such as Poland and Belgium.
Import of fruit juices continues to increase slowly to Europe
- The import of fruit juices into the European Union in the last five years has grown by 1% in value and 2% in quantity, reaching €7.3 billion and 7.4 million tonnes in 2016. Internal European imports are stable and the import from developing countries is increasing at an average annual rate of 2%.
- Although there is an overall trend of decreasing packed fruit juice consumption in mature markets such as Germany, especially in volume, the supply of raw materials such as concentrated juices still provides opportunities for developing country exporters. This is due to the fact that imported fruit juices are used as ingredients in different types of beverages and in other food industries, and not only for the production of 100% fruit juices.
- The industry is also actively campaigning to reverse the negative trend caused by health concerns, and trying to find a new appeal to consumers. Sustainability and new formulations with exotic ingredients are an important part of this response. See, for example, the campaign by the German fruit juice industry and supported by the EU “juice naturally”, Natuerlich mit Saft, and the campaign highlighting the sustainability of orange juice production, Fruit Juice Matters.
- The majority of European countries have shown a decline in imports in 2016 comparing to 2017. Only a few countries, such as Poland and Belgium, have shown positive import growth of fruit juice imports in quantity since 2012. However, the increase in imports continues for several major importing countries, such as France, the United Kingdom and Spain. Since 2012, France has increased imports of fruit and vegetable juices to 69,000 tonnes, the United Kingdom to 142,000 tonnes and Spain to 32,000 tonnes.
- The largest import growth over the last five years was for NFC orange and apple juice, as well as for all types of citrus juices.
Five large importing countries for fruit juices in Europe
- There is no single country in Europe which dominates the import market, and therefore export opportunities can be found in several countries. The largest quantities of imported fruit juices are shared between the five largest importers, which have similar import shares. The largest importers (the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom) together share almost 80% of total European imports.
- Besides the largest importing countries, constant import growth also occurs in the Central and Eastern European countries and in Scandinavian countries.
Brazil leading supplier to the European market
- Supply of fruit juice to Europe is headed by Brazil, followed by different European countries.
- Besides Brazil, important external European fruit juices suppliers are Costa Rica, Thailand, Argentina, USA, Turkey and Israel.
- In the range of the largest developing country suppliers, countries gaining European market share in the past years were Vietnam (tropical juices and pineapple juice), Peru (maracuya juice), Costa Rica (single-strength pineapple juice), Philippines (coconut water and concentrated pineapple juice) and Thailand (coconut water, pineapple juice and other tropical juices such as tamarind, mango or lychee).
Orange juice most imported fruit juice in Europe
- The largest share of European imports of fruit juices is made up of concentrated orange juice, followed by tropical fruit juices, mixtures of fruit juices and apple juice. Supply of concentrated orange juice is dominated by Brazil, which is very strong competitor to other developing countries. However, opportunities can be found in the export of tropical and exotic juices which are not produced in Europe.
- The fruit juice types which had increased imports in Europe in the last five years were not-from-concentrate (NFC) orange juice, followed by mixtures of juices, tomato juice, single citrus juice and pineapple juice.
- Besides targeting the largest European import markets, consider countries that are showing growth in imports such as Eastern and Central European countries and Scandinavian countries.
- Learn from developing country exporters who are gaining share on the European market, such as Vietnam, Peru, Costa Rica, Philippines and Thailand.
European exports of fruit juices mainly intra-European
- Since 2012, European exports of fruit juices have slightly increased at average annual rate of 0.3% in value, but increased 1% in volume, reaching €5.6 billion and 5.4 million tonnes in 2016.
- The largest part of exported fruit juices consists of concentrated and not-from-concentrate orange juice (35%). A large part of this export is represented by re-export of imported orange juice from Brazil. The European-produced juice with the largest export share is concentrated apple juice.
- The European countries with the highest export growth in quantity over the past five years were Romania (18% annual growth, especially NFC orange juice), United Kingdom (17% annual growth, especially in fruit juice mixtures) and Cyprus (17%, especially single citrus juices).
- About 90% of all European Union exports are intra-European. The main external destinations are the United States, Japan, Switzerland and Russia.
- The largest external destination market that showed considerable growth over the past five years was the United States. The reason for this growth was three high apple production seasons in Poland, in which concentrated apple juice was produced and exported at very low and competitive prices. However export to the United States decreased in 2016.
- Besides the United States, other export destinations with increasing growth rates were China (grape juice and orange juice) and the Republic of Korea (grape juice and juice mixtures).
- Learn from European exporters about destinations which are increasing imports. Stay informed about the European industry from the European Fruit Juice Association and its member associations.
- Belgium and the Netherlands are the largest European trade hubs for fruit juices. Consider exporting to these countries, especially if you are exporting a tropical fruit type of juice.
- Learn more about your competitors in our study about Competition in processed fruit and vegetables.
Decline in production of fruit juices and nectars in Europe
- Production of fruit juices and nectars in Europe is declining, but this does not mean that developing country exporters are losing opportunities in the European market. Besides the fruit juice industry, a large proportion of imported concentrated fruit juices and purees are used as ingredients in soft drinks, sport drinks and other types of fruit drinks.
- The total sold production of fruit juices and nectars in 2017 reached €7 billion, which is an increase from 2015.
- Production of private label juices decreased more than production of branded juices.
- The most produced type of juices in Europe are orange juices (25%). Other important types of juices produced in Europe are mixtures of juices (21%), apple juices (18%) and grape juices (9%).
- The largest volume of fruit juices in Europe is produced in Germany, followed by Spain, Italy, Poland and Austria.
Note that the figures above display the production of manufactured goods, which include intermediate goods as well as final goods. This implies that it is possible that there is overlap in production data and import data, since raw materials may be imported and further processed.
- Regular information about crops, processing and the market situation can be found on the leading European information service for processed fruit and vegetables FoodNews.
- Due to climate conditions, exotic fruits are rarely grown in Europe. This opens up opportunities to introduce exotic products and flavours that cannot be produced domestically into the European market.
Decreasing trend of fruit juice consumption in Europe
- It is likely that the decrease in consumption of fruit juices at the retail level in Europe will continue in 2018, but at a much slower rate, and in the next few years will remain stagnant or even increase. The main reason for juice consumption decrease is the consumer perception of the high sugar level in juices.
- The only categories of fruit juices which had increased consumption in 2016 compared to 2015 were NFC fruit juices and chilled fruit juices.
- The largest fruit juice and nectar-consuming country in Europe in 2016 was Germany (2,361 million litres), followed by France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Poland. However, the country with the largest consumption of fruit juices in Europe per capita is Malta, with a yearly consumption of 31 litres per person, followed by Germany, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Austria and Sweden.
- In the next few years until 2021, the rate of decrease is forecast to slow down, nearly coming to a halt in 2020 and 2021 according to the European Fruit Juice Association. The market is expected to stabilise at around 9.36 billion litres around that time, driven by growth from Eastern Europe, namely Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia and the Baltics. Rising household incomes and a growing perception of the health and functional benefits of fruit juices and nectars are the key assumptions for this expected outcome.
- The most popular flavours are orange (36.7%), flavour mixes (19.4%), apple (15.1%), pineapple (3.5%) and peach (3.5%). Flavour mixes slightly increased in share, as they become more popular with both consumers and producers alike.
- Apple remains a staple flavour in the large apple-growing countries of Germany, France, Austria and Poland. Peach and pineapple are popular in southern EU countries such as Spain and Italy.
- You can find opportunities in exotic juices, as these are not produced in Europe.
- Consider exporting specific types of juices which have increased demand, such as juices with an increased amount of pulp, superfruit juices, not-from-concentrate juices and organic juices.
- New flavour mixes are another opportunity, and these can be developed in close cooperation with European processors and bottlers. So invest in product development facilities in order to meet the demands of curious European buyers.
Opportunities lie in the following trends:
- Low-sugar and ‘superfood’ products are appreciated by consumers. Due to this trend, nectars, soft drinks and flavoured waters which are naturally sweetened are more promising. More sweeteners such as stevia, lucuma or coconut water will be used in beverages.
- Food safety certification supported with frequent laboratory tests can additionally provide a great advantage to European market suppliers.
- Corporate Social Responsibility standards are also becoming more important.
- Consumer interest in vegan, gluten-free and natural food also offers opportunities for exporters from developing countries.
- Consumption of organic products is increasing in Europe and is positively influencing consumption of juices. Therefore, consumption of organic juices is likely to increase too.
- Opportunities for developing country exporters are also seen in added-value segments such as not-from-concentrate (NFC) juices, organic, fair trade and juices with reduced fruit acid.
- Specific opportunity lays in the increasing consumption of coconut water and coconut water drinks. Coconut water has recently been categorised as a type of juice in the European Union. For more information, read our study about the coconut water market in Europe.
Some fruit juice-specific factors influencing the European market include the following:
- The juice market in Europe is expected to decline because of the high sugar content in juice drinks. Fierce competition from soft drinks is also influencing the decrease in fruit juice consumption. This means that in the future fruit juices will be used more frequently as ingredients for soft drink production than now.
- It is expected that the European import of oranges and pineapples will decrease due to the adverse weather conditions and El Niño effect in Florida, Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand. These extreme weather conditions and a weak Euro has pushed up the price of some fruit juice concentrates by as much as 400%. This can provide opportunities for new developing country suppliers willing to enter the market at a medium price. However, this is possible only after careful planning and reorganisation of the fruit production sector in specific countries, as increasing fruit production is a long process that takes several years.
- Consumption in minor segments such as apricot, alphonso mango, pineapple, banana and passion fruit is expected to increase.
- Consumption of superfruit is likely to increase. This will positively influence the consumption of frozen berries too, which are used as ingredients for berry type fruit juices. Increased consumption of berry drinks does not necessarily mean an increase of import in berry juices, as berry juices may be prepared from frozen ingredients at home using blenders and juicers.
- Sourcing of lemon juices from countries outside Europe is expected to increase. In the last season, two main European producers of lemon juices, Italy and Spain, had a very low harvest. The European shortage of lemon juices will also lead to a rise in prices.
- The package itself is going to be hugely important, especially in presenting the content of the product, because consumers now read labels more than ever before.
- With respect to fruit juices, an extensive study about European market trends is available. See our study about Trends for processed fruit and vegetables.
- One of the opportunities can be found in new product solutions, in which fruit juices will be used as ingredients.
- Use the opportunity to sell organic, fair trade and NFC juices.
- To find out more about product- and country-specific trends in the sector, read our studies about Superfruit juices in Europe and Pineapple juice in Europe.
General information on buyer requirements for processed fruit and vegetables is given in our study about Buyer requirements on the European processed fruit and vegetable market. The section below deals with specific requirements applying to fruit juices in Europe.
Fruit juice quality requirements
The composition and quality of fruit juices are covered by a specific European Fruit Juice Directive. This Directive stipulates the specific characteristics of fruit juices and fruit-based drinks in order to guarantee that the best possible products are put on the European market. It defines the composition of various products that can be produced, including not only fruit juices, but also dehydrated fruit juice and fruit nectars.
The Directive also specifies the criteria that various products must comply with:
- Which fruits can be used
- The minimum content of the fruits
- What ingredients can or cannot be added
- How these products must be designated on the label.
As an example, if a product has been sweetened or has been obtained from concentrated juice, this must be clearly indicated on the label.
The most common issues regarding illegal additions of non-permitted substances into fruit juices which European importers are facing are the addition of C4 sugar, non-declared fruit and water to NFC juices.
In the event of repeated non-compliance of specific products originating from particular countries, stricter conditions may apply. These stricter conditions in practice mean obligatory laboratory checks for the defined number of imported containers or trucks. Products from countries that have shown repeated non-compliance are put on a list included in the Annex of the Regulation for increased level on official controls on imports.
At the moment (from March 2016), there is no increased control for imported fruit juices.
In June 2015, the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Contaminants in Food adopted a standard to reduce the maximum level of lead in fruit juices and nectars. The maximum level of lead was changed from 0.05 to 0.03 mg/kg. The maximum level of lead for juices and nectars from berries and other small fruit is retained at 0.05 mg/kg.
The European Union has set maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides in and on food products. MRLs apply to 315 fresh products and to the same products after processing, including fruit juices, adjusted to take account of dilution or concentration during the process.
In January 2016, the European Union announced four changes in regulations concerning maximum residue levels in fruit and vegetables. The specific increase of the maximum residue levels are set for chlorpyrifos, fosetyl and several other pesticides. Therefore, fruit juice producers from developing countries should integrate those changes in their supply chain and cooperate with fruit producers through integrated pest management practice.
Besides general food safety certification schemes, retail companies require sector-specific certifications and voluntary food certification schemes. In the fruit juice industry, the most recent development is SGF certification. SGF certifies fruit processing companies, packers and bottlers, traders and brokers for fruit juices as well as transport companies and cold stores in almost 60 countries worldwide. SGF certification covers not only food safety, but also product quality and corporate social responsibility principles.
Allergen labelling, where allergens have to be highlighted in the list of ingredients and requirements applicable to non-prepacked foods including those sold in restaurants and cafés, is important. A relevant allergen in the beverages industry is sulphur dioxide, which is used in the production of soft drinks. The maximum allowed level of sulphur dioxide and sulphites is 10 mg/kg in terms of the total SO2.
Packaging used for fruit juices must:
- Protect the organoleptic and quality characteristics of the product
- Protect the product from bacteriological and other contamination (including contamination from the packaging material itself)
- Protect the product from moisture loss, dehydration, and where appropriate, leakage as far as technologically practicable.
- Not pass on any odour, taste, colour or other foreign characteristics to the product.
Common and niche requirements
- Food safety certification is a common request from European Union importers. The most common certification schemes accepted on the European market are IFS, FSSC22000 and BRC.
- Environmental protection, organic and fair trade certification schemes are becoming more and more popular in the European Union. For organic production, you can consider IFOAM standards. The European Union regulates both organic food and drinks produced and/or processed within Europe and organic goods from elsewhere (Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1235/2008 with detailed rules concerning import of organic products from third countries).
Organic products can readily be imported from non-European countries whose rules on organic production and control are equivalent to Europe’s. However, this is not the case for most developing countries, with the exception of Argentina, Costa Rica and Tunisia.
For all other non-European countries, importers can have their organic products certified for import into the European Union by independent private control bodies approved by the European Commission.
- Specifically for fruit juices, consult the EU Export Helpdesk where you can find European Union legislation for your selected products under the corresponding 2009 codes.
- For information on commonly requested standards, check the International Trade Centre's Standards Map, an online tool which provides comprehensive information on over 210 voluntary sustainability standards and other similar initiatives covering issues such as food.
- Refer to Codex Alimentarius for the General Standard for Fruit Juices and Nectars. Codex Alimentarius standards are in line with current practices in Europe.
- Refer to The Code of Practice of the European Fruit Juice Association for guidelines specifying Good Manufacturing Practices in production of fruit juices and nectars.
- Stick to the rules! New laboratory testing methods can easily discover addition of non-permitted sugars, water or other fruit into fruit juices. It takes a long time and a lot of money to build a good reputation in European markets, but this can be lost very quickly if you are caught with adulterated or sub-standard products.
- To find out the Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) that are relevant for fruit juices, you can use the EU MRL database in which all harmonised MRLs can be found.
- Get food safety certification. However, check with the importers and experts if the food safety certification company you consult is appreciated by European Union buyers. Some examples of independent internationally accredited certification companies are SGS, CIS, TÜV and Bureau Veritas.
- Check the Codex Alimentarius Code of practice for the prevention and reduction of lead contamination in foods in order to meet stricter requirements for the maximum level of lead in fruit juices and nectars.
For more information about competition on the European fruit juice market, see our Competition study.
The specialised processor (bottling company) is the preferred channel for market entry in this sector. Many importers also conduct trading and wholesale activities.
Chart 1: European channels for fruit juices, 2016
Source: Market researcher insights from industry sources
The majority of imported fruit juices in Europe are used by the beverage industry in three main different ways:
- With reconstitution of water for bottling and production of 100% fruit juice
- As ingredients for the production of nectars and fruit drinks
- Bottling of not-from-concentrate fruit juices.
In the beverage market channel, the share of private label brands is expected to increase, especially in the sub-segment of high quality 100% fruit juices and not-from-concentrate private label juices. This means potentially lowering the prices of branded products in order to be more competitive with lower priced private label juices and beverages.
Specifically for juices, new channels such as juice bars, fresh juice stores, raw food restaurants and juice corners are increasing market share. Those channels are in line with the general healthy living trend.
A smaller portion of imported concentrated fruit juices are used by the fruit preparations industry. Here, the juices are used as ingredients in the production of marmalades, jellies, candies, cereal-based products, ice creams and fruit yogurts.
- Use the opportunity to sell organic, fair trade and NFC juices, especially to the suppliers of the new market channels such as juice bars.
- For more information, see our extensive study about Market channels and segments for processed fruit and vegetables.
- To get practical advice related to business issues, read our tips about doing business and finding buyers on the European market of processed fruit and vegetables.
Indications of margins according to final retail prices for fruit juices are not very precise, as the whole sector contains many different products. The prices are also different between producing countries regarding type of juice, fruit variety and quality of products. Therefore, it is only possible to give a very rough general overview of the price development.
Very roughly, it can be estimated that the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) price of concentrated fruit juice represents around 0.25% to 0.50% of the retail price of the retail pack of fruit juices made from concentrates. The best option to monitor prices is to compare your offer with the offer from the largest competitors.
A very rough breakdown of the prices is shown in the illustration below:
Table 1: Fruit juices price breakdown
Steps in export process
Type of price
of the retail price
Production of fruit
Raw material price (farmers’ price)
5-10% (price of the fresh fruit required for the production of one kg of concentrated juice)
Handling, processing and selling bulk product
FOB or FCA price of concentrated juice
Import, handling and processing
Wholesale price (value added tax included)
Retail packing, handling and selling
Retail price (for average packaging of 250g)
Please note that share of the retail price paid to farmers varies a lot between producing countries and the type of the product. Different amounts of fruit are needed for the production of the same quantity of fruit juice, depending of the type and variety of fruit.
- In production of fruit juices, the raw material (concentrated fruit juice) accounts for more than half of the cost price. Increased prices have an immediate effect on prices paid by consumers who are, in turn, price conscious. So monitor your (production) costs in order to avoid losing customers.
Please review our market information disclaimer.