Bulgaria - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sectors
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Bulgarian agricultural and food imports from the United States, which continue to increase, are similar to the profile of U.S. exports to other EU countries and weighted toward intermediate and consumer-oriented products.  In 2022, these categories of products accounted for 15 percent and 70 percent of the market, respectively.

The Sofia office of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)/U.S. Department of Agriculture (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) and high inflation, U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria in 2022 still managed to increase compared to 2021. Because of transshipments through other EU countries, U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria are substantially higher than U.S. Customs data reflect. Bulgarian Customs data report that U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria in 2022 were USD 92 million or 15 percent more than in 2021.  EU transshipments were 62 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria, at USD 58 million.

Trade data for January - May 2023 indicate even more growth in U.S. agricultural exports to Bulgaria, up 26 percent compared to the same period in 2022. Top export products have been food preparations, whiskies, tree nuts, and protein concentrates. 

 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 genetics, 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. These reports can be found here: https://gain.fas.usda.gov/#/home

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

Distilled Spirits

Total Bulgarian imports of distilled spirits (whiskey HS#220830) in 2022 from all suppliers were USD 88.6 million or 5,875 LPA (liter of pure alcohol), an impressive 15 percent increase compared to 2021 in value and 43 percent growth in volume. The market was positively affected by softened pandemic conditions and recovery of summer and winter tourism. In the first five months of 2023, whiskey imports continued to rebound and experienced 36 percent growth in value and a 28 percent increase in volume, despite rising prices.

  • Imports of U.S. distilled spirits in 2022 totaled USD 4.5 million, 34 percent higher than in the previous year. Trade data for 2023 (January-May) show skyrocketing imports - up 140 percent in value and 113 percent in volume, respectively.  To a large degree, this is due to reduced challenges related to the supply chain and logistical issues, as well as improved local consumer demand. (Source: Trade Data Monitor). Remark: these statistics include only direct exports from the United States to Bulgaria and do not account for the products transshipped through other EU ports of entry, so the actual number is likely significantly higher.

The Bulgarian market for U.S. whisky is stable, with an assortment of brands, but prospects for increased imports are strong.

Nuts/Tree Nuts

The Bulgarian market for tree nuts is favorable and imports are growing to meet consumer demand.  In 2022, total imports reached a new record of USD 59.6 million and 12,200 metric tons (MT).  This was a growth of 4 percent in value and 8 percent in tonnage. For the first five months of 2023, imports expanded by 10 percent both in value and in volume. The trend towards a healthier lifestyle is the major driver behind this trade.

  • In 2022, U.S. exports of tree nuts were USD 9.1 million, an increase of 14 percent from USD 7.9 million in 2021.  Exports by volume were 12 percent higher. Favorable demand for U.S. almonds and pistachios continues. In the first five months of 2023, U.S. tree nut exports grew an impressive 70 percent in value and 37 percent in volume, ranking the United States as the second largest exporter to Bulgaria after Turkey.

Bulgaria is also a promising importer of peanuts. The demand is growing due to consumer preferences toward more affordable nuts, especially in 2022, when imports were USD 25.6 million (16,116 MT). This represented a 6 percent growth in value and 8 percent increase in volume.  In January-May 2023, imports decreased due to a rise in the average import price of 26 percent.

  • U.S. peanut exports increased 22 percent in 2022 to USD 1.9 million and by 13 percent in volume.  In the first five months of 2023, U.S. peanut exports declined by 48 percent in value and by 53 percent in volume due to higher international prices. (Source: Trade Data Monitor).
  • Growth in tree nut imports is expected to continue 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 agricultural 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 2022, Bulgaria imported USD 90.6 million in planting seeds (excluding sunflower planting seeds), which represented 14.5 percent annual growth over 2021. In the first five months of 2023, imports declined by 15 percent due to declining commodity prices.

  • Demand for U.S. planting, confectionary, and oil-bearing sunflower planting seeds is increasing.  In 2022, Bulgaria imported of USD 73 million worth of sunflower planting seeds, 30 percent growth over 2021.  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.


Bulgaria’s wine market is characterized by steady growth, expanding variety, and an increase in high-end imports.  Wine imports (HS#2204) reached a new record in 2022 at USD 35.7 million, slightly more than in 2021 although imports in volume declined by 10 percent.  In the first five months of 2023, wine imports expanded 26 percent in value and 8 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 best prospects. Imported wines compete well against local wines.  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 2022, U.S. exports of wine to Bulgaria were stable at the 2021 level, however, they increased 180 percent in the first five months of 2023.


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 2022 were USD 26.8 million and 27,000 MT, up 17 percent and 8 percent, respectively, compared to 2021. 
U.S. exports of pulses to Bulgaria are USD 500,000 annually although there was a temporary decline in 2020-2022 due to higher import duties on U.S. products and tough competition by Egypt, Turkey and Ethiopia. Overall, there are improved 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 market reached a new record of USD 159 million in 2022, with an increase of 13 percent compared to 2021.  Imports in volume were 45,500 MT in 2022, with 8 percent growth over 2021. In the first five months of 2023, imports in value have stabilized but had a 13 percent reduction in volume.  More than 80 percent of total imports are frozen fish. 

In 2022, U.S. seafood exports increased to USD 200,000, 41 percent more than in 2021. U.S. exports consisted of frozen fish:  lobsters, pink and chum salmon, loligo squid, hake, mackerel, as well as other higher-end seafood products.  In the first five months of 2023, U.S. exports expanded 18 percent. In general, these exports 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

The Bulgarian market for food preparations has grown consistently, with imports achieving a new record in 2022 of USD 184 million, 14 percent more than in 2021.  The trend was maintained in the first five months of 2023, with 17 percent growth.

U.S. food preparations exports experienced steady growth in 2015-2022.  In 2022, these exports to Bulgaria reached a record high USD 7.6 million, 16 percent more than in 2021.  In the first five months of 2022, U.S. exports to Bulgaria grew by an impressive 129 percent.  This category includes products such as processed soups, mixes for dough, pastry, and gelatin.  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.

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 accounts for more than 90 percent of sales. Leading suppliers include the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada.  Total 2022 Bulgarian animal genetics imports declined following the sharp growth from the previous year, to USD 700 million in value terms, due to the challenges of the dairy industry related to feed costs and stagnated dairy product prices. However, imports expanded 43 percent during the first five months of 2023. In volume (doses), imports peaked at 143,000 in 2022 (2 percent more than 2021) and have stagnated in 2023. 

In 2022, U.S. bovine-genetic exports to Bulgaria increased to a new record of USD 330,000. This marked a growth of 31 percent in value and 70 percent in the number of imported doses compared to 2021.

In the first five months of 2023, U.S. exports continued to grow, with 14 percent higher value and 26 percent lower imports of doses, due to exports of higher quality genetics. 

Germany, Canada and the Netherlands remain the main U.S. competitors. Reportedly, much of the Canadian and German product is of U.S. origin. Currently the size of the market is not large but the potential for growth is substantial.  High-tech dairy and beef cattle genetics from genomically 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 2022 increased to USD 219 million, 19 percent more than in 2021.  Germany, Poland, and Romania were the main competitors, followed by Italy, and Greece (Source: BICO Baked Snack Foods, Trade Data Monitor).  In the first five months of 2023, these imports grew 35 percent.

  • Popcorn comprises the bulk of snack food imports from the United States. Prospects for 2023 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 2022, soft drink imports were USD 175 million, 2 percent more than in 2021. The market has further expanded in the first five months of 2023, with an impressive 21 percent, due to growing consumer demand (Source: BICO Non-Alcoholic Beverages/Bottled drinks, Eurostat/Trade Data Monitor). U.S. exports in 2022 and through  the first six months of 2023 have been flat at USD 360 million, with growth of a less than a 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@usda.gov
Alexander Todorov, Marketing Specialist, Alexander.Todorov@usda.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Phone: +359-2-939-5720
 https://gain.fas.usda.gov/#/home (GAIN reports)