Bulgaria - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sectors

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-09-11


Bulgarian agricultural and food imports from the United States continue to increasingly resemble the profile of U.S. exports to other EU countries, weighted towards intermediate and consumer-oriented products.  In 2021, these categories of products accounted for 23 percent and 64 percent of the market, respectively.

The Sofia office of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)/U.S. Dept. of Agricultural (USDA) focuses on trade policy and the promotion of U.S. agricultural exports.  Despite an unfavorable exchange rate in the Eurozone (U.S. dollar to Euro), U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria in 2021 remained stable at the same level as in 2020 and 14 percent higher than in two years ago.  FAS/USDA Sofia found that when transshipments through other EU countries were counted, U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria in 2021 were substantially higher than U.S. customs data reflects.  Bulgarian customs data reports that U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria in 2021 were USD 73 million.  The EU transshipments were 62 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria, at USD 45 million.

The business environment for U.S. exports to Bulgaria is characterized by:

  • more efficiencies as Bulgaria adopts more EU norms a shift from direct to indirect imports through EU-based wholesalers/importers with longstanding links to U.S. suppliers enabling Bulgarian importers to source smaller quantities at affordable prices
  • growing investment and rising demand for animal feed and feed additives, bovine and other animal genome material, live animals, planting seeds, planting materials, and raw materials such as cotton, wool, powdered milk, and egg powder, and
  • increased output of local products resulting from rising foreign direct investment (FDI) in the agricultural sector.

USDA/FAS Sofia assembles reports about local market prospects and developments in the agricultural and food sectors.

See: https://gain.fas.usda.gov/#/

Sub-Sector Best Prospects:

Distilled Spirits

Total Bulgarian imports of distilled spirits (whiskey HS#220830) in 2021 were at USD 77.2 million for 4,096 LPA (liter of pure alcohol), an impressive 26 percent increase compared to 2020 in value terms and 14 percent growth in volume terms.  The market was positively affected by softened pandemic conditions and recovery of the summer and winter tourism.  In the first four months of 2022, whiskey imports continued to rebound and experienced 42 percent growth in value and unseen 72 percent increase in volume, due to 18 percent decrease in the average import price.

Imports of U.S. distilled spirits in 2021 totaled USD 3.4 million, 4.3 percent higher than in the previous year.  However, data for 2022 (January-April) shows a decline of 35 percent in value and 39 percent in volume, respectively.  These sharp fluctuations are due to supply chain and logistical issues. (Source: Trade Data Monitor).

The market is generally stable, likes an assortment of brands, and prospects for increased imports are strong

In June 20, 2017, the EU imposed a 25 percent import tariff on U.S. whiskey (HS#22083011, 22083019, 22083082).  The duty was suspended as of January 1, 2022. This is expected to have a positive impact on U.S. whiskey exports to Bulgaria later in 2022 and in the future.

Nuts/Tree Nuts

The Bulgarian market for tree nuts is favorable and imports are growing to meet consumer demand.  In 2021, imports reached a new record of USD 57.3 million and 11,340 MT.  This was a growth of 16 percent in value and 24 percent in tonnage. For the first four months of 2022, imports expanded by two percent in value and by nine percent in volume.

The trend towards a healthier lifestyle is the major driver behind this trade (Source: Trade Data Monitor).

In 2021, U.S. exports of tree nuts were at USD 7.9 million, a decrease of 22 percent from USD 10.1 million in 2020. Imports in volume were stable.

Favorable demand for U.S. almonds and U.S. pistachios continues.  However, in the first four months of 2022, U.S. tree nuts exports declined by 40 percent, mainly due to stronger competition with Greece and Turkey, although reportedly, some of these imports are transshipments with U.S. origin (Source: Trade Data Monitor).

Bulgaria is also a promising importer of peanuts. The demand is growing due to consumer preferences towards more affordable nuts, especially in late 2021 and in 2022.  In 2021, imports were at USD 18 million (12,650 MT).  In January-April 2022, imports increased by 16 percent in value and by 13 percent in volume.

U.S. peanut exports increased significantly in 2021 from USD 1.0 million (2020) to USD 1.55 million.  In the first four months of 2022, U.S. peanut exports skyrocketed by 81 percent in value and by 50 percent in volume. (Source: Trade Data Monitor).

Growth is expected due to recovering food service outlets, rising tourism, a growing middle-class, favorable tariffs and regulatory regime, as well as a lack of local competition.

Plant Genetics/Planting Seeds

Bulgaria is a net importer of advanced plant and animal genetics due to higher demand by local farmers and other related ag operations to increase productivity and profitability. U.S. plant genetics is a thriving agricultural sector, but U.S. products are limited due to EU regulatory barriers.  In 2021, Bulgaria imported USD 78.9 million of planting seeds (excluding sunflower planting seeds) which represented 8.7 percent annual growth over 2020 (Source: Trade Data Monitor).  In the first four months of 2022, imports expanded by 24 percent.

Demand for U.S. planting confectionary and oil-bearing sunflower planting seeds is increasing.  In 2021, Bulgaria imported USD 57 million of sunflower planting seeds, at the same level as in 2020.  Most of these seeds were from the United States, mainly transshipments via Romania, Hungary, Italy, and France.  The demand was driven by expanding production as well as by the search for better genetics.  In the first four months of 2022, total imports of sunflower planting seeds increased by 16 percent (Source: Trade Data Monitor).


Bulgaria’s wine market is characterized by steady growth, expanding variety, and an increase in high-end imports.  Wine imports (HS#2204) reached a record in 2021 at USD 35.6 million, 53 percent more than in 2020.  Imports in volume also increased substantially by 50 percent to a record high 14.5 million liters.  In the first four months of 2022, wine imports continued to expand by 12 percent in value and by seven percent in volume.  

Imported wines have a stable presence in the Bulgarian market due to a robust and mature distribution system, improving consumer income, active promotions, and increased tourism. Imported wines compete well against local wine products.  In the retail sector, U.S. wines have a limited presence. While not large, the wine market is highly competitive with wines originating from Italy, Chile, Spain, France, and South Africa.  In 2021, U.S. exports of wine to Bulgaria were at 6,000 liters.


Bulgaria’s pulse market is well developed with both good demand and high per capita consumption.  Dry beans and lentils, both traditional Bulgarian foods, have receded in the wake of less expensive and higher quality imports. Total pulses’ imports in 2021 were at USD 22.8 million and 25,000 MT, respectively by eight and 11 percent lower than imports in 2020 (USD 24.8 million and 28,900 MT).  In the first four months of 2022, however, the trend reverted, and imports increased by 13 percent in value and by five percent in volume. (Source: Trade Data Monitor).

U.S. exports of pulses to Bulgaria are around USD 0.5 million annually although there was a temporary decline in 2020 and 2021 due to higher import duties on U.S. products.  On June 20, 2018, the EU imposed a 25 percent import tariff on U.S. kidney beans (HS#17133390).  The duty was suspended on January 1, 2022.  This change is expected to improve trade prospects due to interest in product diversification, the development of consumer tastes, an increase in higher-value pulses, and new products.


A net importer of fish and seafood, the Bulgarian import market reached a new record of USD 140 million in 2021, with an increase of 23 percent compared to 2020.  In the first four months of 20220, imports continued to expand with 15 percent growth (Source: Trade Data Monitor).  Imports in volume were at 42,000 MT in 2021 with three percent growth in 2022 to date.  More than 80 percent of total imports are frozen fish.

In 2021, U.S. seafood exports increased to about USD 0.2 million, 76 percent more than in 2020 when this trade dropped to its lowest level. U.S. exports consisted of frozen fish: – lobsters, pink and chum salmon, loligo squid, hake, mackerel, as well as other higher-end seafood products.

Imports from the United States are higher than what is reported by U.S. Customs due to transshipments through other EU countries, mainly via Greek and Romanian ports.

Prospects for seafood imports remain positive due to steady market development and expansion of retail and food service outlets that sell consumer-ready, and ready-to-eat products.  On the other hand, the EU trade regime provides preferential tariff treatment to exporters from South America, Canada, and some other countries which creates challenges for U.S. exporters. 

Food Preparations

Bulgarian market for food preparations has been consistently growing with imports achieving a new record in 2021 at USD 160.6 million, 20 percent more than in 2020.  The trend was maintained in the first four months of 2022 with another 20 percent growth.

U.S. food preparations exports experienced steady growth in 2015-2021.  In 2021, these exports to Bulgaria reached a record high USD 6.5 million, three percent more than in 2020.  In the first four months of 2021, U.S. exports to Bulgaria grew by another 12 percent.  This category includes products such as processed soups, mixes for dough, pastry, gelatin, and others.  Growth is related to the development of the local food industry and especially the convenient food segment.  Prospects are good and moderate growth is expected in the near future (Source: Trade Data Monitor report).

Bovine Genetics

The Bulgarian dairy farm industry significantly increased its demand for high quality genetic materials, both for live animals, imported mainly from the EU, and for semen and embryos (HS#051110), imported from the United States.

The market for bovine dairy genetics is dominated by imported semen, which account for more than 90 percent of sales. Leading suppliers include the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada.  Total 2021 Bulgarian animal genetics (HS#051110) imports reached a new record of USD 0.8 million in value terms but declined by eight percent during the first four months of 2022 due to the challenges of the dairy industry related to feed costs and stagnated dairy products prices. In volume (doses), imports peaked at 140,000 in 2021 (four percent more than 2020) and have stagnated in 2022 to date.

In 2021, U.S. bovine-genetic exports to Bulgaria decreased from the record in 2020 to USD 250,000.  Despite this decrease, the U.S. ranked as a number one exporter of bovine genetics to the Bulgarian market.  Germany, Canada and the Netherlands remain as the main U.S. competitors.  Reportedly, some, or most, of the Canadian and German product is of U.S. origin. (Source: Trade Data Monitor).  Currently the size of the market is not large but the potential for growth is substantial.  High-tech dairy and beef cattle genetics from gnomically tested bulls are showing increased demand.  This sub-sector is characterized by a trade regime with no import duties; favorable veterinary requirements; and an increase in local demand. 


U.S. companies face stiff competition from EU producers in the snack food sector.  Snack foods generally are sourced from other EU member states or are produced locally as the result of foreign direct investment (FDI).  Bulgaria does not have a tradition of producing or consuming high-quality and/or price-competitive snack foods.  Consumption, however, has been growing, thanks to changing consumer tastes resulting from foreign travel, marketing by snack foods companies, rising incomes, and expanding tourism.
 Bulgaria’s imports of snack foods in 2021 reached a new record at USD 228 million or 23 percent more than in 2020.  Germany, Poland and Romania were the main competitors on this market, followed by Italy, and Greece (Source: BICO Baked Snack Foods, Trade Data Monitor).  In the first four months of 2022, these imports grew 14 percent.

  • Popcorn comprises the bulk of snack food imports from the United States. Prospects for 2022 remain good.
  • Local production of confectionery products continues to grow as a result of investment by EU-based companies.
  • U.S. products are perceived as being of high-quality and competitively priced.
  • U.S. microwave popcorn, breakfast cereals, and some types of confectionery products are the most popular.

Soft Drinks/Waters/Juices

The soft drinks market is one of the country’s most dynamic.  In 2021, soft drink imports were at USD 171 million, slightly below the record achieved in 2020 (USD 178 million). The market has stagnated in the first four months of 2022 with a four percent decline due to growing inflation and supply chain challenges (Source: BICO Non-Alcoholic Beverages/Bottled drinks, Eurostat/Trade Data Monitor). 

  • U.S. exports in 2021 decreased from the peak in 2020 (USD 0.47 million) to USD 0.36 million, however in 2020 to date this trave reverted and grew by 43 percent.
  • Major EU competitors have more than 80 percent market share
  • Water, juice, and energy drink consumption continues to increase in parallel with the rapid development of the hotel/restaurant sector
  • The Association of Soft Drinks Producers projects local consumption will continue to increase over the next several years. U.S. producers successfully compete with juice concentrates, most of which are imported.
  • Cranberry juice and other frozen juices would be popular with Bulgarian consumers if they were price competitive.
  • U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Sofia Contact Information.

Mila Boshnakova, Senior Agricultural Specialist, Mila.Boshnakova@fas.usda.gov
Alexander Todorov, Marketing Specialist, Alexander.Todorov@fas.usda.gov
 U.S. Department of Agriculture
Phone: +359-2-939-5720

https://gain.fas.usda.gov/#/home (GAIN reports)