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What is the demand for processed fruit and vegetables on the European market?

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European imports of processed fruit and vegetables grew steadily from 2016 to 2020. Almost one third of imports comes from developing countries. Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Italy are leading in imports and offer the best opportunities. COVID-19 has not decreased demand but has had an impact on the increase of import prices due to higher freight rates. This year, the products with the most potential are cashew nuts, groundnuts (peanuts), canned tropical fruit and vegetables, tropical fruit juices and purees, table olives and frozen berries and tropical fruit. Products produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way that contribute to a healthy lifestyle will have better opportunities to enter the European market.

1. What makes Europe an interesting market for processed fruit and vegetables?

Europe is the largest market for processed fruit and vegetables in the world, absorbing almost half of global supplies. Over the last three years, European imports of processed fruit and vegetables steadily increased. During 2020 and in the first half of 2021, the import growth rate in terms of value was above average due to the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Prices of some of the major product groups increased due to lower production, frequent lockdowns, and higher freight rates, especially in Asia. In terms of volume, imports did not change significantly in 2020.

In 2020 European imports of processed fruit and vegetables represented 45% of global imports, followed by Asia (27%), North America (17%), Latin America and Caribbean (3%), Africa (2.5%) and Oceania (2%).

Europe’s import growth is forecasted to remain lower than that in other regions worldwide, such as South and South-East Asia, where economic growth projections are higher than in Europe and markets are expanding more rapidly. Still, Europe is a very attractive market for value-added and sustainable products. Average import prices for most of the processed fruit and vegetables in Europe are between 10% and 30% higher compared to import prices in Asia.

Around 30% of the European trade in processed fruit and vegetables comes from developing countries. In addition, most intra-European trade consists of re-exports of processed fruit and vegetables originally coming from developing countries. In the next five years, European imports of processed fruit and vegetables are expected to increase at an annual rate of 1% to 2%, depending on product categories.

The most important ports for processed fruit and vegetables in Europe are Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Hamburg (Germany), Antwerp (Belgium), Felixstowe (the United Kingdom), Algeciras (Spain) and Marseille (France). After products arrive at those ports they are unloaded and transported by trucks to other parts of Europe. Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and is equipped with logistical facilities for oversea exporters. Many companies specialised in handling and storing of processed fruit and vegetables have their own specialised terminals in Rotterdam. Two other ports of significant importance for this sector are Hamburg and Antwerp.

Some terminals at the Rotterdam and Antwerp ports are specially constructed for juice handling. They are equipped with pumps and pipes to transfer juice from ships to storage containers. Those terminals also offer other services such as aseptic storage tanks, temperature control, equipment for crushing frozen products, loading equipment, filling and mixing devices, and laboratories. In the frozen fruit and vegetables sub-sector several companies have their own terminals in Hamburg and Antwerp, specialised for storage and handling of frozen products.

Between 2016 and 2020, European imports of processed fruit and vegetables grew every year by 1% in both value and volume, reaching €39 billion and 24 million tonnes in 2020. There was an increase of 2% in import value compared to 2019 while the quantities remained almost unchanged. Approximately 70% of all processed fruit and vegetables imported from outside Europe comes from developing countries. European imports from developing countries reached a value of €10.5 billion in 2020.

The strongest growth is in the edible nuts category

Looking at the main categories in this sector we observe that fruit and vegetable juices make up the largest product group in volume with a 31% share of European imports, followed closely by canned and preserved fruit and vegetables (28%). Frozen fruit and vegetables (19%) have the third-largest import share, followed by edible nuts (13%), dried fruit and vegetables (6%) and jams, marmalades and purees (3%). Industry experts forecast moderate growth for European import values of processed fruit and vegetables in the coming years.

Edible nuts imports are expected to expand the most, driven by the healthy snacking and veganism trends. Imports of edible nuts in Europe have increased by 4% annually since 2016, reaching 2.4 million tonnes in 2020. Among the top 10 importers the largest import growth was noted in Poland (11%) and the United Kingdom (7%). European traders forecast average annual growth of 4-6% in imports and consumption of edible nuts over the next five years. It is expected that imports of edible nuts in Europe will increase by an additional 300-500 thousand tonnes until 2025.

Nuts are a good protein alternative to meat, and they are consumed by the increasing vegan population in Europe. In Germany alone there are 2.6 million vegans, according to the recent study by Veganz. Also, nuts are increasingly processed into drinks (vegan milks), pastes, purees or used as ingredient in many confectionery and bakery products.

Fruit juices is likely to show the least growth because of a decreased sugar intake by European consumers. However, it seems that European fruit juice consumption started to show the first signs of recovery in 2020 after several years of decline. Consumption in several European markets in 2020 was higher compared to 2019. In the long term, European imports of fruit and vegetable juices are expected to show growth of around 1% annually. Consumption of vegetables juices is expected to show stable import growth over the next 3-5 years. Most vegetables juices are produced in Europe. Therefore, opportunities for suppliers outside Europe are limited.

The canned and prepared fruit & vegetables market in Europe is the largest in the world, representing more than 40% of total world imports. The European market for canned and prepared fruit and vegetables has grown by 4% annually since 2016, reaching €12 billion in 2020. Growth is expected to continue over the next 5 years but at a lower annual rate of 2-3%. The growing at-home consumption and demand for vegan, convenient and easy-to-prepare food are the main drivers behind the expected market growth.

The market for retail-ready canned products is very limited. Almost 80% of this product category is produced and traded inside Europe and usually by large multinational companies. The fastest import growth over the last 5 years was for table olives (7% annual rate), pickled cucumbers (9%), canned tropical fruit (5%) and tropical purees (11%). Products which can be packed in bulk packaging (such as drums) offer better opportunities compared to retail-ready products. For bulk-packed products competition is less fierce.

Frozen vegetables imports decreased in 2020 because European processors increased local production. In order to be less dependent on imports during the Covid-19 pandemic more vegetables were produced and processed by freezing. Working from home has enabled people to spend more time to prepare meals and consume more convenient ingredients such as frozen vegetables. According to the research agency KANTAR, working from home will be the only change affecting European eating habits after 2021 if restrictions are eased.

Frozen fruit imports continued to show strong growth. Imports increased by more than 40 thousand tonnes compared to 2019. This import growth was driven by demand for smoothies with healthy ingredients such as frozen berries. Consumption of other frozen smoothie ingredients increased too. Those include exotic ingredients such as frozen mango or pineapple cubes but also green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach or Brussel sprout).

Dried fruit and vegetables imports in Europe fluctuate regularly, as a large share of the market is supplied by a relatively small number of suppliers. For example, 21% of the category share is accounted for by dried grapes (raisins, sultanas and currants). More than 50% of dried grapes is supplied to Europe by Turkey. If you see fluctuations in imports, they are the result of variable production in Turkey. In years when Turkish production is smaller due to weather conditions or other external factors, total European imports are smaller too.

In several other categories, imports largely depend on the offer of one or two main suppliers. This is for example the case with imports of dried vegetables (where China is the dominant supplier), prunes (the USA and Chile), figs (Turkey), dried apricots (Turkey) and Burkina Faso (dried mango). Products offering the most opportunities are dates and dried tropical fruit, especially mango. Since 2016, imports of dates have grown by 9% annually while the annual import growth rate for dried mango is estimated at 6%.

Jams, marmalades and purees are the smallest category in the European processed fruit and vegetables market. The competition for retail-packed jams and marmalades in Europe is high as very few of these products are packed outside Europe. More opportunities lie in supplying European industry with raw materials such as purees and frozen fruit. There is increasing demand for fruit preparations which are used in the dairy, bakery and confectionery industry, but the market is dominated by large multinational companies such as Agrana or Döhler.

Edible nuts is the fourth category in volume, but the largest import category in value. With a value of €7.1 billion, it accounts for a quarter of imports from countries outside Europe. This significant share is explained by the relatively high value per kilogram of edible nuts compared to other products. For example, the export (FOB) price of one kg of cashew nuts is 15-20 times higher than the FOB price of orange juice. However, in terms of quantity, the largest import category is fruit and vegetable juices as shown in Figure 2 above.

Demand for sustainable products increasing

There are several niche market segments that provide opportunities for products related to sustainable production. Those include production following certain agricultural methods (such as organic or pesticide free) or production in an environmentally friendly way (such as Rainforest Alliance, ISO 14000 or carbon neutral). Sustainable products also include those produced in a way that takes human rights and working conditions into account (such as Fairtrade). There is also an increasing amount of products with claims relating to special dietary needs (such as vegan, gluten-free or ‘free-from’).

Organic is not a niche market segment anymore

Organic certification schemes are increasingly popular in Europe. Although organic production was until recently reserved for niche markets, organic products are now becoming mainstream. However, certain types of organic certifications, such as ‘biodynamic’ (Demeter or BDA), can still be considered niche segments. Increasing the production and consumption of organic food is part of the official EU strategy. To achieve Sustainable Food Production, the strategy aims to reach 25% of the EU’s agricultural land use by 2030. Another aim is to cut the use of pesticides by 50% by 2030.

In Europe, organic food sales are growing every year. The largest market for organic food in Europe is Germany, followed by France and Italy. Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden have the highest per capita spending on organic products. Sales in specialist shops for organic food and natural goods in Germany increased by 16.4% since 2019, reaching €4.37 billion in 2020.

According to traders of processed fruit and vegetable products, the organic share is around 5% on average with strong increasing trends. In some segments this share is much larger. For example, in several European countries consumption of organic olive oil surpassed 10% of total market share. In 2020 almost 17% of imported olive oil is estimated to be organic.

Organic imports represented 2% of all EU imports. In 2020, the EU imported 2.79 million tonnes of organic agri-food products. Almost one third of the 2020 organic imports into Europe are imported by the Netherlands (31%), followed by Germany (18%), Belgium (11%) and France (10%). The main suppliers of organic products to the EU are Ecuador (12%), the Dominican Republic (9%), China (8%) and Ukraine (8%). By far the biggest product category is tropical fruit, nuts and spices, representing 30% of the volume (0.84 million tonnes).

Fair trade: a growing niche segment

According to Fairtrade International, global sales of Fairtrade-certified products are increasing. Official data specifically related to the processed fruit and vegetable sector are not publicly available, but more than 2,500 companies licenced more than 37,000 products in 2020. The highest sales per capita were registered in Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden. Most fair trade labels focus on products such as bananas, cocoa, coffee and cotton.

For processed fruit and vegetables the number of Fairtrade-certified companies is more limited, and often more of an additional added value than a requirement. The largest number of Fairtrade-certified products can be found in the following categories.

Table 1: Number of Fairtrade-certified companies in the processed fruit and vegetables sector in 2021

Product category

Number of certified companies/organisations

Top products and number of certified companies

Dried fruit

134

Dried mango – 55

Dates – 34

Raisins – 33

Dried pineapple – 30

Dried vegetables

2

Dried tomato – 1

Fruit juices

122

Orange juice – 74

Passion fruit juice – 36

Pineapple juice – 34

Edible nuts

264

Cashew nuts – 156

Almonds – 69

Peanuts – 53

Oilseeds and oleaginous fruit

328

Coconut for processing – 56

Olive oil – 27

Shea butter – 22

Source: https://www.flocert.net

Sustainability certification on the rise

Sustainability is a broad term with many aspects and there is still no recognised sustainability certification covering all aspects. Until recently, sustainability certification was aimed at special niche buyers on the market but now it is becoming a mainstream request, similar to organic certification. One increasingly used aspect is to publish CO2 emission rates on products, but it is difficult to have reliable measurements for those claims. However, some private certification schemes to do this are in development. Currently, the most well known certification schemes focus on environmental impact and ethical (CSR) aspects.

Sustainability certification in the processed fruit and vegetable sector was once used to target niche markets (such as Fairtrade), but now sustainability claims and certification are one of the main trends in the mainstream market. According to GfK and KANTAR surveys, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, 49% of European shoppers think sustainability is more important to them.

The importance of sustainability created a new type of shopper – Eco-Actives. Eco-Actives are shoppers who are highly concerned about the environment and are taking the most actions to reduce their waste. According to KANTAR and GfK the global share of Eco-Actives increased by 1% in 2020, reaching 22%. These reputable research companies predict that Eco-Actives will account for half the population by 2029.

Covid-19 and shipping crisis led to increase in import prices

There were several important factors in 2020 that influenced current and future developments of the processed fruit and vegetables market. The most important to mention were the Covid-19 pandemic, increase of shipping rates, Brexit and the launch of the EU Green Deal.

After the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020 shipping companies, especially in China, restricted their operations. This sudden decrease of ocean transport was followed by a relatively fast recovery in the second half of 2020. This caused one of the largest shipping crises over the last 30 years, resulting in an average increase of prices by 10-20% for many types of processed fruit and vegetables. Increased shipping costs are forecasted to continue in the next 2-3 years.

The impact of Brexit (the United Kingdom leaving the European Union) to the sourcing of processed fruit and vegetables is related to a general increase of the cost of living. The UK governmental representatives announced that Brexit would reduce the UK’s potential GDP by about 4% in the long term. They also forecast that the Covid-19 pandemic would reduce GDP ‘by a further 2%’. This forecast still does not mean that sourcing of processed fruit and vegetables will be lower. On the contrary, imports of processed fruit and vegetables show stable growth despite the influence of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brexit will not negatively influence the UK’s imports of processed fruit and vegetables from developing countries. On the contrary, it is expected that direct import will increase. It is expected that some UK importers will switch to importing directly from producing countries instead of buying from EU re-exporters (such as the Netherlands or Germany). They can do this to avoid additional customs procedures and paperwork.

Another development is the launch of the European Green Deal. In 2020 the European Union implemented a set of policies and actions called the European Green Deal with the aim to make the European economy more sustainable and climate neutral by 2050. The EU Green deal includes the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy. Both policies influence food production and trade. Aspects of the European Green Deal relevant for sourcing processed fruit and vegetables from developing countries are reducing the use of pesticides, increasing organic production, and switching to sustainable packaging materials.

Tip:

Most opportunities in nuts not produced in Europe

Products not produced in Europe, or those produced in insufficient volumes, provide the best opportunities for you. Table 2 below shows the annual growth of import values for the top 10 processed fruit and vegetables (6‑digit HS codes) originating outside Europe in the 2019-2020 period. Currently, the best opportunities for new suppliers from developing countries can be found in large-volume products such as cashew nuts, frozen fruit and tropical fruit juices.

Table 2: Average annual value growth of European processed fruit and vegetable imports from non-EU countries 2016-2020

Product

Annual growth 2016/17

Annual growth 2017/18

Annual growth 2018/19

Annual growth 2019/20

Annual growth 2016/20

Value

2020

€ million

Share in sector imports in value 2020

Processed fruit and vegetables

1%

-3%

3%

3%

1%

16,833

 

Shelled almonds

-17%

0%

12%

-3%

-3%

1,695

10%

Shelled cashew nuts

27%

-9%

-3%

-4%

2%

1,179

7%

Shelled hazelnuts

-17%

-9%

17%

12%

0%

1,061

6%

Shelled peanuts

22%

-11%

1%

13%

5%

1,022

6%

Orange juice with Brix <20°

0%

-4%

-6%

-14%

-6%

844

5%

Shelled pistachios

5%

1%

14%

9%

7%

814

5%

Shelled walnuts

29%

5%

-14%

13%

7%

672

4%

Frozen fruit

11%

8%

10%

14%

11%

662

4%

Dried grapes

-15%

4%

17%

-10%

-2%

623

4%

Fruit purees

1%

-3%

3%

3%

3%

541

3%

Source: TradeMap

Currently, opportunities for new suppliers from developing countries can be found in large-volume products, such as cashew nuts, peanuts, frozen fruit, dried fruit and tropical purees and juices. Products imported in relatively smaller volumes, including pistachios, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, dried mushrooms, pine nuts and dried tropical fruit, also offer opportunities for new suppliers from developing countries. Those products offer fewer opportunities in terms of volume but they have a relatively high price, which means more profit. Coconut products such as desiccated coconuts, coconut milk, coconut oil and coconut water also offer specific opportunities.

A specifically interesting category are products promoted as ‘superfood’. Those include products which are sold as food but also as ingredients for food supplement markets. These products with strong health benefits are increasingly demanded on the European market. Some examples include:

  • Frozen berries – raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, currants
  • Spray dried and freeze-dried powders – acai berries, acerola, maca, ashwagandha, baobab, soursop
  • Juices and purees – berries, pomegranate, aloe vera, noni, acai berry, acerola, ginger, turmeric
  • Dried fruit – goji berry, cranberry, aronia
  • Dried mushrooms – Ganoderma, cordyceps, reishi, chaga

On the other hand, particular market circumstances may offer limited opportunities to new suppliers of other products. For example, the decreasing demand for orange or apple juice and the sufficient or excessive supply of several canned vegetable or fruit products in Europe. The third section of this study elaborates further on which products provide the most opportunities (see Tables 2-4).

Imports from developing countries are expected to grow slowly to moderately in the coming years. This will strongly depend on the development of star performers like cashew nuts, or underperformers like concentrated orange juice.

Europe is not self-sufficient in processed fruit and vegetables

European countries do not have suitable climatic conditions to cultivate tropical fruit and vegetables, so they depend heavily on imports from tropical and semi-tropical countries. Only a few types of processed fruit and vegetables see any significant production in Europe. The strongest import dependency is in dried fruit and edible nuts, where the share of domestic production in total consumption is smaller than 10%.

Table 3: Trade balance of the most produced processed fruit and vegetables and edible nuts in Europe, 2020

Product

Leading European producers

Import volume 2020 in thousand tonnes

Leading non-EU suppliers

Export volume 2020 in thousand tonnes

Trade balance

Concentrated apple juice

Poland

162

Moldova, Turkey, China, Ukraine, Serbia

130

-32

Canned pears

Italy, Spain

21

China, South Africa, Argentina

5

-16

Tomato puree

Italy, Spain, Portugal

259

China, United States, Ukraine, Turkey

625

366

Tomatoes preserved as whole or in pieces

Italy

22

Turkey, USA

942

920

Canned peaches and nectarines

Greece

6

China, South Africa

187

181

Canned apricots

Greece, Spain

12

Morocco, South Africa, China

8

-4

Canned beans and pulses

Italy

27

Lebanon, Turkey

210

184

Dried figs

Spain, Greece, Italy

26

Turkey, Iran, Albania

3

-23

Table olives

Spain, Greece, Italy

149

Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Albania

415

266

Frozen vegetables

Belgium

177

China, Egypt, Turkey, Ecuador, Chile

413

236

Frozen berries

Poland

149

Serbia, Ukraine, Morocco, Egypt Bosnia and Herzegovina

48

-101

Frozen sour cherries

Hungary, Poland

25

Serbia, North Macedonia, Turkey

28

3

Prunes

France

45

Chile, USA, Argentina, Serbia

15

-30

Hazelnuts

Italy

148

Turkey, Chile, Georgia, Azerbaijan

3

-146

Walnuts

France

97

USA, Chile, Ukraine, Moldova

6

-91

Source: Eurostat, ITC Trade Map and industry sources

Still, as shown in Table 3, most products are not produced in sufficient volumes to meet European demand. Also, Europe’s domestic fruit and vegetables processing does not show any clear tendency towards increasing volumes. Therefore, supply from non-European sources is important to satisfy European market needs. This provides additional opportunities for producers of products such as hazelnuts, frozen berries, walnuts, apple juice, prunes, figs and canned pears.  

New suppliers from developing countries must be aware of the strong competition from the existing countries of origin. For example, apple juice is currently imported in large quantities from China, frozen fruit from Serbia and Egypt, prunes from the United States, Chile and Argentina and walnuts from the United States and Chile. If you produce some of these listed products you should make your offer unique and different from other origins in order to add value to your offer. Check some of the examples on how to be authentic in the CBI study on doing business with European buyers of processed fruit and vegetables.

Tips:

2. Which European markets offer most opportunities for processed fruit and vegetables?

Germany and the Netherlands are Europe’s main importers of processed fruit and vegetables, making them interesting focus markets. Both markets have the largest shares of imports from developing countries. The main difference between the two is that the Netherlands re-exports most of the imported products. Germany is also a significant re-exporter but also the largest consumer and processor of imported products and ingredients. France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium are other promising leading markets with a relatively large share of imports from developing countries.

Germany is the largest market in Europe for processed fruit and vegetables and edible nuts

Germany is by far Europe’s largest importer of processed fruit and vegetables with a value of €8.4 billion in 2020, which accounts for 21% of all European imports in this category. More than 60% of Germany’s imports come from other European countries, while direct imports from developing countries account for 28%. In import value, edible nuts are the largest product group among German imports, followed by canned and prepared fruit and vegetables and fruit and vegetable juices.

Within the edible nuts category, cashew nut kernels in particular offer good opportunities for suppliers from developing countries, as Germany is the largest European importer and market for this product. Imports of canned and prepared fruit and vegetables to Germany mainly come from other European countries. In this group, tropical fruit purees (mango and avocado in particular), prepared soy beans, pickled cucumber, canned asparagus, capsicums (chili and sweet), table olives and canned pineapples offer the best opportunities for suppliers from developing countries.

Germany is also Europe’s leading fruit juice market, with a very strong and increasing offer of organic juices. Total consumption of fruit juices and nectars in Germany is estimated at 2.5 billion litres. However, apple juice is more popular than citrus and tropical flavours and it is sourced mostly from Poland and China. Tropical juices offer good opportunities for developing country suppliers as they show the strongest import growth. Other top performers are not-from-concentrate and organic juices. Drinks ingredients, such as purees and frozen fruit, also provide solid opportunities for suppliers from developing countries.

The leading developing countries supplying processed fruit and vegetables to Germany are Turkey, China and Brazil. Hazelnuts and dried grapes are Turkey’s main exports to Germany in the processed food and vegetables sector. Frozen vegetables and pine nuts are the main Chinese products in the German market within the sector. Orange juice is Brazil’s leading product exported to Germany in this sector.

As described in our trends study, German suppliers are searching for new sourcing origins to ensure more sustainable supplies and to be less influenced by climate changes. Examples of emerging suppliers to Germany in the period 2016-2020 include:

  • Turkey (jams and purees, pickled cucumbers)
  • India (shelled cashews)
  • Egypt (frozen strawberries, groundnuts, pickled vegetables)
  • Chile (walnuts shelled and unshelled and dried prunes)
  • South Africa (macadamia nuts)
  • Ukraine (walnuts, apple juice, frozen berries and berry juice)
  • Tunisia (dates)
  • Philippines (canned pineapple)
  • Moldova (apple juice, shelled walnuts and apple purees)
  • Mexico (canned fruit, and nuts)
  • Morocco (frozen strawberries)
  • Lebanon (nuts)
  • Palestine (dates)
  • Kosovo (frozen berries)
  • North Macedonia (canned vegetables)
  • Afghanistan (almonds)
  • Burkina Faso (shelled cashews)
  • Ghana (desiccated coconuts, dried pineapple)

Sustainability niche market segments in Germany

Sustainability is also trending strongly in Germany. According to the ITC’s sustainability trend report, Germany is the second-biggest market for Fairtrade products (after the UK), and the biggest market for organic products in Europe (pdf). In some sub-sectors Germany offer more opportunities for Fairtrade-certified suppliers compared to the UK. For example, there are 12 Fairtrade-certified traders of dried mangoes in Germany compared to only 5 in the UK.

German residents also recycle the most packaging waste in Europe at 160 kg per capita annually. In order to support recycling Germany was one of the first markets in Europe to introduce certifications for recyclable packing materials such as DIN-Geprüft biobased. Suppliers that reduce their environmental impact and work in a sustainable way will have an advantage in the German market.

As the largest market in Europe for organic products, Germany provides opportunities for suppliers of organic processed fruit and vegetables. The German organic market grew by 22.3% since 2019, reaching €15 billion in 2020. Approximately 6.4% of all food in Germany is sold as organic certified.

Netherlands: the European trade hub

The Netherlands is in fact the largest European importer of processed fruit and vegetables from developing countries, which make up 52% of all Dutch imports of processed fruit and vegetables. The Netherlands is also the leading European re-exporter, with cashew nut kernels, orange juice, peanuts, almonds and dried (sugar-infused) cranberries being the top re-exported products. Germany is the main destination for Dutch processed fruit and vegetable re-exports, followed by France and Belgium.

It may seem attractive to sell directly to German end-recipients instead of going through Dutch importers, but many of those final recipients import smaller quantities while direct importers purchase full containers. Because of that, many final recipients actually do not import from outside Europe. This makes the Netherlands a very attractive export destination.

Fruit juices is the largest category in processed fruit and vegetables imported into the Netherlands. Within the fruit juices category, the top imported product is concentrated orange juice from Brazil. Other popular juices are grapefruit, lemon juice and tropical juices (pineapple, passion fruit and mango). The market for juices is quite concentrated and main bottlers (such as Refresco) are directly supplied by large Brazilian companies. Still, some opportunities can be found in the supply of superfruit ingredients, such as frozen fruit and purees, as well as vegetables for smoothies, considering the Netherlands is also the largest European importer of canned tropical fruit and frozen tropical fruit.

The Netherlands is the largest European importer of shelled groundnuts (peanuts), and the second-largest market for cashew nuts, which opens opportunities for developing country suppliers. Take into account that the Netherlands is mainly a transit country for imported nuts that have other European countries as their final destination. Pecan nuts also offer some opportunities for export, since the Netherlands is the largest European market for pecan nuts, although the market is very much dominated by supply from the United States of America. However, other pecan suppliers are emerging on the Dutch market such as Mexico, South Africa and Argentina.

Dried grapes may also offer opportunities for suppliers from developing countries. The Netherlands has the largest per capita consumption of 2.5 kg in 2019. This data also includes industrial consumption.

Examples of emerging suppliers and products gaining market share in the Netherlands in the period 2016-2020 include:

  • Vietnam (shelled cashews and tropical fruit juice)
  • Philippines (desiccated coconuts and tropical fruit juice)
  • Egypt (frozen strawberries)
  • Mexico (grapefruit juice, orange juice, and canned fruit)
  • Turkey (hazelnuts, pickled cucumbers and pistachios)
  • Nicaragua (peanuts, shelled)
  • Chile (cranberry juice and walnuts in shell)
  • India (shelled peanuts and pickled cucumbers)
  • Lebanon (nuts and seeds mixtures, canned beans, canned vegetables)
  • Ukraine (shelled walnuts, apple juice, frozen berries)
  • South Africa (dates, frozen orange juice, macadamia nuts and single citrus fruit juice)
  • Palestine (dates)
  • Morocco (frozen strawberries)
  • Jordan (canned vegetables)
  • Nigeria (shelled cashews)

Sustainability market and initiatives in the Netherlands

Adopting sustainable and ethical production practices also provides additional opportunities for new suppliers from developing countries. The Netherlands is an important European market for retail sales of Fairtrade products. According to the International Trade Centre, companies in Germany and the Netherlands were the most committed to creating corporate sustainable sourcing commitments among 550 retailers surveyed in Europe. The Netherlands is also the home of different sustainability initiatives such as the organisation IDH. IDH developed sustainability programmes for edible nuts and juices (in cooperation with the European Fruit Juice Association).

France

French imports of processed fruit and vegetables was relatively stable over the last five years. France’s share of imports from developing countries is not very high, namely 18%, but it is growing. The leading developing countries that export to France in terms of value in this segment are Turkey, Brazil, China and Morocco. Turkey supplies mostly shelled hazelnuts, Brazil orange juice, China canned asparagus and Morocco table olives.

The fruit juices sector offers opportunities for suppliers of pineapple juice, as France is the leading European consumer of this product. Apparent consumption (the difference between imports and exports) of pineapple juice reached 48 thousand tonnes in 2020. In the edible nuts category, France is the largest European consumer of walnuts, but a significant share of them are domestically produced. Within the dried fruits category, specific opportunities can be found in the supply of dates, dried apricots and dried figs, since France is the largest European importer and consumer of these products. Also, France is the largest European importer of table olives.

Examples of emerging developing countries exporting to France in the period 2016-2020 include:

  • Vietnam (shelled cashew nuts)
  • Algeria (dried dates)
  • South Africa (shelled macadamias)
  • Ukraine (shelled walnuts)
  • Egypt (frozen strawberries and table olives)
  • Indonesia (canned pineapples)
  • Colombia (canned fruit)
  • Palestine and Jordan (dried dates)
  • Togo (groundnuts in shell, pineapple juice)
  • Kenya (frozen peas and canned vegetables)
  • Madagascar (canned asparagus)
  • Cameroon (canned vegetables)

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is the leading European importer of canned beans and dried fruit and the fourth-largest importer of processed fruit and vegetables in the European Union, thanks to an annual import growth rate of 2%. The leading developing country supplying to the United Kingdom in this sector is Turkey, supplying mostly dried grapes, dried apricots and hazelnuts. Another strong supplier to the UK is China, exporting a wide range of products such as frozen vegetables, pine nuts, peanuts and dried grapes.

The United Kingdom is the leading European importer of dried grapes (98 thousand tonnes in 2020) and the second-largest importer of Brazil nuts (5.6 thousand tonnes in 2020). Berries and tropical fruit processed in different ways – frozen, purees or juices – provide good opportunities for suppliers from developing countries, because the United Kingdom is the largest European market for smoothies. The United Kingdom is also the largest European market for coconut water. According to the British Soft Drinks Association, consumption of juices including smoothies and coconut water reached 930 million litres in 2020.

Examples of emerging developing countries exporting to the United Kingdom in the period 2016-2020 include:

  • Brazil (groundnuts)
  • Serbia (frozen sour cherries, frozen raspberries, plum puree)
  • Nicaragua (groundnuts)
  • Peru (frozen mango, pickled chillies, canned mandarins)
  • Pakistan (dates, pickled cucumbers, mango puree)
  • Indonesia (canned pineapples, coconut water)
  • Kenya (canned pineapples, pineapple juice)
  • Ecuador (frozen broccoli, passion fruit juice, banana puree)
  • Egypt (frozen strawberries, dried vegetable mixtures)
  • Eswatini (preserved citrus fruit)
  • Morocco (table olives, frozen strawberries)

The UK is the largest Fairtrade market in Europe, with over 400 companies licensed to use the Fairtrade logo on products. As the world’s largest market for Fairtrade products, comprising total annual retail sales of £804 in 2019, the United Kingdom also provides good opportunities for Fairtrade-certified suppliers. In June 2020 Kantar assessed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Fairtrade sales. Certified Fairtrade products were +23% in terms of value.

Italy

Italy is the fifth-largest European importer of processed fruit and vegetables, but is somewhat different from other top importers because it is also a significant producer and processor of fruit and vegetables. The leading developing country supplying to Italy in this segment is China, followed by Turkey. China’s top exported product to Italy in this sector is tomato puree. Italy is the leading European producer of tomato puree, but in order to maintain stable supply it imports significant quantities from China. The main Turkish product exported to Italy is shelled hazelnut. Most of the Turkish hazelnut supply to Italy is aimed at international confectionary companies such as Ferrero where it is used as an ingredient in sweet spreads.

Italy is the largest European market and processor of hazelnuts, chestnuts, table olives and processed tomatoes. Italy is also the second-largest producer and the first importer of olive oil in Europe. In this sector, specific opportunities can be found in organic olive oil. The consumption of pine nuts for the production of pesto is also very high in Italy, even though pine nuts are frequently substituted with other, relatively cheaper nuts, such as almonds and cashews. Organic and vegan products show very high market growth in Italy.

Examples of emerging developing countries gaining market share in Italy in the period 2016-2020 include:

  • Chile (hazelnuts, through Italy’s Ferrero direct investment)
  • Iran (shelled and unshelled pistachios)
  • Turkey (unspecified nuts and fruit purees)
  • Brazil (shelled cashews)
  • Morocco (table olives and frozen strawberries)
  • Ukraine (shelled walnuts and frozen vegetables)
  • Palestine and Algeria (dried dates)
  • Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Guinea-Bissau (shelled cashews)

Belgium

Belgium is the sixth-largest European importer of processed fruit and vegetables and an important re-exporter to other European countries. Belgium is specifically strong in the trade of frozen fruit and vegetables. The leading developing country exporting to Belgium in this segment is Brazil with orange juices, followed by Turkey with dried grapes and table olives. Other strong suppliers to Belgium include Costa Rica (canned tropical fruit and pineapple juice), China (frozen and dried vegetables) and Morocco (frozen strawberries and table olives).

Belgium is also the largest European importer of canned mushrooms and a large importer of frozen and canned vegetables. Belgian imports of edible nuts, such as cashews and Brazil nuts, are also significant although consumption is not very high compared to other European importers. Another striking characteristic is the large import value of pistachios. Belgium is the second-largest European importer of pistachios, after Germany.

Belgium is the largest producing, exporting and re-exporting country of frozen vegetables in Europe. The largest imports of frozen vegetables concern vegetables that are not massively produced in Belgium, which provides an opportunity for developing country suppliers. This group of vegetables is led by cauliflower and broccoli florets and followed by other vegetables such as frozen bamboo shoots, garlic, aubergines, bitter melon and asparagus.

Examples of emerging developing countries gaining market share in the period 2016-2020 in Belgium include:

  • Turkey (pickled cucumbers and canned olives)
  • Egypt (frozen strawberries)
  • Morocco (frozen strawberries)
  • Burkina Faso (shelled cashew nuts)
  • Chile (shelled and unshelled walnuts)
  • Peru (canned fruit and frozen vegetables)

Ecuador (tropical fruit juice)

Tips:

  • Study your options in the relatively large import markets in Germany, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom. The combination of market size and the strong performance of developing countries makes these markets especially interesting. The best way to start your exploration is to read CBI product studies for processed fruit and vegetables and edible nuts.
  • Study examples of emerging developing countries that are gaining market share on the European market provided in this section. If you are producing some of the mentioned products, compare your assortment with competitors, then try to implement similar strategies to take your product to the European market.
  • Invest in more sustainable production processes to increase your opportunities in the European market. Read more about sustainability trends in our trends report.

Other hidden potential markets

Only two European countries can be considered medium-sized importers of fruit and vegetables: Spain and Poland. Edible nuts, especially almonds, walnuts and pistachios are the top Spanish imports in this sector, followed by frozen vegetables. Poland is a strong importer of preserved tomatoes, groundnuts and frozen fruits. Both countries also most often produce the same products they import, so they use imports to supplement domestic production. Spain, for instance, is the largest European producer of almonds, table olives and dried figs but also a very big re-exporter of these products. Poland is, for example, also a strong producer of frozen fruit.

Austria is another market that offers opportunities for developing country suppliers. Theirs is the eighth-largest European importer in this sector. Although the Austrian population is small compared to other European markets, Austria has a very well-developed fruit juice processing industry, which provides opportunities for developing countries to supply the raw materials like concentrated juices, purees and frozen fruit. The Austrian group Agrana is the owner of Austria Juice, the world’s leading producer of fruit preparations.

Lastly, it is important to mention that Central and Eastern Europe have been growing the most. Among the countries in these regions, Bulgaria showed the strongest increase in imports, on average 10% annually between 2016 and 2020. Bulgarian imports of processed fruit and vegetables increased from 121 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 152 thousand tonnes in 2020. Leading products in this sector that Bulgaria imports from developing countries are groundnuts, table olives and canned sour cherries. Despite importing much smaller volumes than the top European importers, markets in Central and Eastern Europe are substantial enough to provide direct export opportunities for exporters from developing countries.

European competition is limited

Europe’s production of processed fruit and vegetables is limited, although some countries produce substantial volumes of certain products. The largest European processors of fruit and vegetables are Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Poland.

Spain is the leading European supplier of table olives and olive oil but it also produces and exports other products, such as canned fruit, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, processed tomatoes, almonds, citrus juices, jams and purees. Spain is the leading producer of citrus fruit in Europe. Most of those citrus fruit are sold as fresh but around 20% is processed into juices.

Italy is the largest European producer and exporter of processed tomato products, such as canned tomatoes, tomato purees, pastes and juice. Italy is also a large producer of hazelnuts, canned beans, table olives, dried figs and Mediterranean pine nuts. Italy is the second-largest olive oil exporter in the world. However, Italian domestic production is not sufficient for that volume of exports, so the country imports almost twice as much as it exports. Italy is also the largest exporter of not-from-concentrate grape juice in the world.

France is the leading producer of canned vegetables in Europe, mostly because it is home to Bonduelle, the French-owned leading supplier of canned products in Europe. France is also a significant producer and exporter of walnuts, prunes, jams, fruit juices and other products. For example, France is the largest European processor of imported pineapple juice. France also has a very developed frozen food offer. For example, the company Picard Surgelés, a producer and retail distributor of frozen products, has more than 900 stores in France.

Greece is the leading supplier of canned peaches and canned apricots in the world. Greece is also the second-largest European producer of table olives and dried figs and a leading supplier of dried grapes (currants). Poland is the leading European producer of apple juice and frozen strawberries. Other important suppliers include Belgium (frozen vegetables), Hungary (frozen sweetcorn), Portugal (tomato puree) and Bulgaria (cherries preserved in alcohol).

Tips:

  • Visit European trade fairs to find trading partners. Start with the leading trade fairs in Europe: Anuga in Germany, Sial in Paris and Biofach for the organic market segment, also in Germany. Another fair that might also yield potential trading partners is FI Europe, which is dedicated to food ingredients.
  • Find opportunities in contacting large European food processors to check if they are importing ingredients directly or they are rather supplied through importers.
  • Participate in online initiatives trade event organisers have put forward during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the Fi Connect matchmaking platform of Food Ingredients or PLMA online and online events such as ANUGA@home. Specialised product focus events also started to use online matchmaking tools, such as the International Nuts and Dried Fruit Conference.
  • Explore opportunities in Europe’s medium-sized and smaller markets, especially growing markets like countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

3. Which products from developing countries have the most potential in the European processed fruit and vegetables market?

The products from developing countries with the most potential on the European market are cashew nuts, frozen fruit, tropical juices and purees, groundnuts (peanuts), dates and canned tropical fruit. The strong performance these products have shown since 2016 is expected to continue in the coming years, since their nutritional benefits meet the current consumer demand for healthy foods. It must be noted that besides the six selected products with the highest import value to Europe, there are many more products that can provide good opportunities for suppliers from developing countries.

Please note that we base our results on high-potential product data from the developing countries where CBI is active. We calculate export volumes to the European market for these products. We define the European market as EU27+UK+European Free Trade Association. For more information on other high-potential products from CBI countries, read the annex to this study.

Cashew nuts

European cashew nut imports are growing, driven mostly by the consumer trend towards healthier foods. Demand for cashew nuts in Europe is driven by the popularity of healthy snacking, their pleasant taste and the use of nuts as substitutes for animal proteins. Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain are the largest European markets for cashew nuts. Smaller but growing markets in Central and Eastern Europe also offer opportunities, especially for new suppliers.

Table 4: European imports of cashew nuts, in € million

Imports from the world

Imports from developing countries

Imports from

CBI countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share developing countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share CBI

countries

1,431

3%

1,176

2%

82%

63

2%

4.4%

Source: Eurostat and ITC TradeMap

Within the edible nuts category, cashew nuts are the second-most imported product in Europe by value, after almonds. Also, in the whole category of processed fruit and vegetables and edible nuts, cashew nuts are the most imported product in terms of value, after almonds and frozen vegetables. All cashew nuts are sourced from developing countries. Since 2016, European imports of cashew nuts have been increasing by 6% annually and reached 167 thousand tonnes in 2020.

The European market traditionally imported most cashew nuts from Vietnam and India. Although African countries are the largest producers of raw in-shell cashew nuts, they still do not have sufficient processing capacities to supply Europe directly. Instead, they export in-shell cashew nuts to Vietnam and India for further processing. However, other developing countries have started investing in processing facilities and are gaining market share. Emerging suppliers of cashew kernels include Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, Benin, Indonesia, Togo, Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau.

Cashew nuts in Europe are mostly consumed as snacks but their use as an ingredient is also growing. Cashew nuts are increasingly used in in various healthy food and functional food products, such as breakfast cereals, cashew nut butter, nut drinks (milks), protein and cereal bars and chocolate products.

The sustainable production of cashew nuts is gaining importance in Europe. Several large traders joined the Sustainable Nut Initiative to stimulate traceability and sustainability in the supply chain of cashew nuts. Also, several international projects and organisations are supporting processing and export of cashew nuts from Africa such as African Cashew Alliance (ACA), ComCashew and CBI projects in West Africa.

Tip:

Groundnuts (Peanuts)

Europe regularly imports more than one million tonnes of peanuts, also known as groundnuts. Shelled, unprocessed groundnuts represent 90% while imports of in-shell groundnuts accounts for only 10% of total groundnuts imports. The largest European importers of groundnuts are the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Poland and Spain. The United Kingdom is the largest consumer market with more than 90 thousand tonnes consumed in 2019. Most peanuts reach European markets through the Netherlands, the largest re-exporter, packer and processor of peanuts in Europe. There are further market opportunities for peanuts in the growing markets of Central and Eastern Europe.

Table 5: European imports of groundnuts, in € million

Imports from the world

Imports from developing countries

Imports from

CBI countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share developing countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share CBI

countries

1,934

5%

1,144

7%

59%

107

14%

5.5%

Source: Eurostat and ITC TradeMap

New suppliers from developing countries must be able to compete with the established offer from Argentina, the United States and China. Nicaragua, Brazil and Egypt are also strong suppliers. However, Egypt is mostly present only with in-shell peanuts in Europe. The main reason for the very high proportion of in-shell exports from Egypt is to reduce the chance of aflatoxin occurrence, as processors have difficulties monitoring post-harvest operations, and to maintain optimal storage conditions. New, emerging suppliers include South Africa, Vietnam, Paraguay, Venezuela and Bolivia.

Food safety certification supported with frequent laboratory tests and joined with corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards can also provide a great advantage for new suppliers to European markets. Organically produced and certified peanuts can also increase your opportunities for success in Europe. Aside from raw peanuts, processed products such as peanut butter can provide opportunities in some markets such as the Netherlands.

Tip:

Canned and preserved tropical fruit and vegetables

Accounting for more than 40% of the world’s imports, Europe is the largest market for canned and preserved fruit and vegetables in the world. Import volumes of canned fruit and vegetables produced in Europe are stable, but imports of tropical and exotic products are growing. Large importing and consuming countries such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands offer the most opportunities for exporters from developing countries. Natural, low-sugar and organic products are the main market drivers.

Table 6: European imports of canned and preserved fruit and vegetables, in € million

Imports from the world

Imports from developing countries

Imports from

CBI countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share developing countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share CBI

countries

10,490

3%

2,623

2%

25%

501

4%

4.8%

Source: Eurostat and ITC TradeMap

Canned pineapples are the largest product category in this group, with Thailand as the leading European supplier followed by the Philippines, Indonesia and Kenya. Supplying countries of other products from this category include India (canned mangoes and canned mango puree) and China (canned lychees, water chestnuts and sweet preserved ginger). As the required investment in canning processing lines is very high, small and medium suppliers can find more opportunities in offering those products in bulk packaging such as barrels, drums or bags in aseptic filling.

Please note that the European market for canned tropical fruit is retail oriented and dominated by a relatively small number of suppliers. Also, the range of products is very limited, with canned pineapples accounting for more than 90% of the whole product category. The best opportunities for new suppliers lie in private label products and ethnic supermarkets. Examples of well-established ethnic Asian supermarket chains selling canned tropical fruit include Tang Frères (France), Wah Nam Hong (the Netherlands), Wing Yip (the United Kingdom), Go Asia (Germany) and Hoo Hing (UK).

Tip:

Tropical fruit juices and purees

Europe is a large and growing market for tropical fruit juices. Tropical juices and purees are increasingly used as ingredients in bottled juices, soft drinks, flavoured waters, smoothies and baby food. There are opportunities for developing country suppliers in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. The most imported tropical fruit juice in Europe is pineapple juice, of which Europe imports more than 50%. Other attractive products offering opportunities are passion fruit (maracuja) juice, mango puree, banana puree, avocado puree and coconut water.

The leading countries supplying tropical juice and purees to Europe are Costa Rica (pineapple juice and banana puree), Thailand (pineapple juice and coconut water), India (mango puree), Brazil (guava puree, acai berry and acerola puree), Peru (passion fruit juice and puree), Ecuador (passion fruit and banana puree), Colombia (guava puree), Philippines (coconut water and pineapple juice), Indonesia (coconut water, pineapple juice), Mexico (aloe vera juice, mango and guava puree) and Vietnam (coconut water and passion fruit juice).

Developing new products, obtaining organic certification and adopting food safety and social responsibility standards can provide strong advantages to suppliers looking to enter the European market. Offering high-brix citrus and tropical juices with a good flavour profile at a competitive price creates a positive image for new suppliers. Food safety certification and laboratory tests are important to gain trust.

For tropical fruit purees, opportunities can also be found in the baby fruit industry. A highly demanded product in this category is banana puree. However, keep in mind that the baby food industry is very demanding and increasingly requests organic-certified products. From January 2021 new European infant food legislation was implemented that introduced new rules on composition, labelling and communication to consumers.

Tip:

Table olives

The European demand for table olives is increasing. In 2020, European imports of table olives reached 516 thousand tonnes. In the long term, the European market for table olives is expected to show stable growth of 4-5% over the next five years. This growth is mostly driven by changes in the consumption patterns of European consumers, like the rising interest in healthier cooking and the Mediterranean diet. New exporters may find opportunities in large and growing European markets, such as Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Romania, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Table 7: European imports of table olives, in € million

Imports from the world

Imports from developing countries

Imports from

CBI countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share developing countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share CBI

countries

856

6%

203

5%

24%

105

1%

12.3%

Source: Eurostat and ITC TradeMap

The main competitors for emerging table olives suppliers are in Europe, namely in Spain and Greece. Exports from those two countries supply more than 70% of all European table olives imports. The leading non-European suppliers are Morocco, Turkey and Egypt. Italy, although ranked as the sixth exporter, imports more than it exports. Aside from leading table olives producers, there are emerging suppliers on the European market such as from Argentina, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Peru, Chile, Algeria, Jordan and Israel.

New table olives exporters that want to enter the European market need to put their products through regular laboratory and sensory tests. You may have a competitive advantage if you can offer table olives with superior sensory characteristics, related to specific production areas, certified organic, or backed by good storytelling marketing. Organic table olives can be produced only through natural fermentation such as salt solution or/and water rinsing. Debittering with lye and the usage of preservatives is not allowed in organic olives either.

Tip:

Frozen fruit

The increasing popularity of smoothies as a healthy breakfast option combined with large industrial demand are the leading drivers of the growing interest in frozen fruit in Europe. With the growing popularity of vegan diets, convenient and easy to prepare food, and functional ingredients, the demand for frozen berries as ‘superfruits’ is growing. Increased working from home due to the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic is another driver for the growing consumption of frozen fruit in Europe.

Table 8: European imports of frozen fruit, in € million

Imports from the world

Imports from developing countries

Imports from

CBI countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share developing countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share CBI

countries

2,637

5%

1,136

8%

43%

253

16%

9.6%

Source: Eurostat and ITC TradeMap

As the largest market for frozen fruit in the world, Europe makes up nearly 50% of total global imports. Large importing and consuming countries like Germany, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands offer opportunities for exporters from developing countries. Germany provides specific opportunities for organically certified frozen berries, as the leading organic market in Europe. The Netherlands is Europe’s largest importer of frozen tropical fruit.

Frozen berry consumption and imports are particularly significant in Europe. In terms of volume the most consumed are frozen strawberries followed by frozen raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Frozen berries are popular as a superfruit, often used in healthy drinks such as smoothies. Other products that have increased above average include frozen cubes and frozen purees of tropical fruit such as mangoes, papayas and passion fruit.

The leading non-EU suppliers of frozen berries to Europe include Serbia (frozen raspberries, blackberries and sour cherries), Egypt (frozen strawberries), Morocco (frozen strawberries) and Ukraine (frozen wild blueberries). The leading suppliers of frozen tropical fruit include Peru, India, Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil and the Philippines.

Tip:

Other products

Other products that have also contributed to the growth of Europe’s processed fruit and vegetables imports include walnuts, table dates, dried grapes, pistachios, dried tropical fruit, desiccated coconuts, pickled vegetables, citrus juices, dried vegetables, pine nuts, pecans and other exotic nuts. These products were not among the top six most promising products, but they are worth looking into.

Shelled walnuts

Europe is the largest walnut importer in the world, accounting for almost half of global imports. In 2020 European imports of shelled nuts reached 97 thousand tonnes. Driven by the consumer demand towards healthy foods, European walnut imports are growing. Walnuts are marketed as beneficial to brain function and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In Europe Italy, Germany and Spain offer the most opportunities for suppliers from developing countries. Introducing light kernel varieties, obtaining food safety certifications and following CSR standards can offer strong advantages over competitors.

Table 9: European imports of shelled walnuts, in € million

Imports from the world

Imports from developing countries

Imports from

CBI countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share developing countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share CBI

countries

869

6%

325

12%

37%

57

-6%

6.6%

Source: Eurostat and ITC TradeMap

Chile, Moldova, Ukraine, China, India, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey are the leading developing countries supplying walnuts to Europe. However, Chile and the United States largely dominate Europe’s imports, limiting opportunities for new suppliers. France also produces significant volumes of walnuts.

Table dates

The European demand for dates is increasing. In 2020, European imports of dates reached 158 thousand tonnes. Dates are particularly popular for their sweetness and are consumed as a snack as a natural source of energy. Dates are increasingly used as a sugar substitute, as an ingredient in fruit bars and as a cooking ingredient. France is the largest European market, importing more than 50 thousand tonnes in 2020, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.

Table 10: European imports of table dates, in € million

Imports from the world

Imports from developing countries

Imports from

CBI countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share developing countries

Total value 2020

Annual growth rate 2016-2020

Share CBI

countries

478

9%

385

10%

80.5%

215

11%

45%

Source: Eurostat and ITC TradeMap

European countries do not produce dates and most of them are imported from developing countries. Suppliers from emerging origins must be able to compete with Tunisia and Algeria as the leading suppliers to Europe. The most famous date varieties in Europe are Medjool and Deglet Nour dates but other tasty varieties are increasingly imported from Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Demanded products in Europe but challenging for emerging suppliers

There are several products with increasing imports in Europe but exporting those products to Europe could be difficult for new suppliers because of very high competition. The following products are more challenging to export to Europe for new exporters due to high market concentration and large shares by the leading suppliers:

  • almonds, mostly from the USA
  • frozen vegetables, mostly produced in Europe and imported from China
  • canned vegetables, mostly produced in Europe
  • retail packed jams, mostly produced in Europe
  • tomato puree, mostly produced in Italy and imported from China
  • orange juices, mostly from Brazil
  • apple juices, mostly produced in Poland and imported from China
  • hazelnuts and dried grapes, mostly from Turkey
  • pistachios, mostly from the USA and Iran

Frozen vegetables, canned vegetables, fruit juice mixtures and canned tomato products are mostly produced and traded within Europe, limiting opportunities for suppliers outside the EU.

Tips:

  • See the statistics annex of this study (pdf) for detailed analyses of more products with high potential in the European market. Table 1 in the annex provides details for all products whose European import volume is greater than 1% of the global imports for that product. Within this large group, comprising 30 products and product groups, many products are not significantly produced in developing countries.
  • Read CBI’s trends report to learn more about several trends influencing demand of processed fruit and vegetables in Europe, including the meta trends involving the growing consumer attention to healthier living habits and sustainable sourcing.
  • Learn more about the potential of various products in the CBI’s product factsheets.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by Autentika Global.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

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