EU - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sector

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

Last published date: 2021-10-18

Overview

Bilateral agricultural and related products trade between the United States and the European Union totaled $42.4 billion in 2019, making the European Union the fourth largest export market for U.S. agricultural and related products after Canada, Mexico, and China.  For the eighteenth year in a row, the United States has run a trade deficit in agriculture with the European Union with a gap of $12.2 billion in 2019.  The top five U.S. agricultural and related products exported to the European Union by value are tree nuts ($3.1 billion), soybeans ($1.9 billion), forest products ($1.5 billion), fish and fish products ($1.0 billion), and distilled spirits ($602 million).

Global branding and further integration of European markets is continuing to produce a more homogeneous food and drink market in Europe, although significant national differences in consumption remain.  Certain common trends are evident throughout the European Union, however: demand for greater convenience; more openness to non-traditional foods; and a growing interest in health foods, organics, and niche markets. For an analysis of what commodities and products offer the best opportunities, consult the website of the Foreign Agricultural Service at the U.S. Mission to the European Union, Member States’ Food and Agricultural Import Regulation and Standards (FAIRS) Reports, and the FAIRS Certification Report for additional trade certification information.

Agricultural Documentation

For commodities composed of animal products or by-products (sanitary certificates), the European Union requires that shipments be accompanied by a certificate issued by the competent authority of the exporting country (phytosanitary certificates are required for most fresh fruits, vegetables, and other plant materials).  This applies regardless of whether the product is for human consumption, for pharmaceutical use, or strictly for non-human use (e.g., veterinary biologicals, animal feeds, fertilizers, or research).  The vast majority of these certificates are uniform throughout the European Union, but the harmonization process is still ongoing.  Most recently, however, certificates for a series of highly processed products, including chondroitin sulphate, hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed cartilage products, chitosan, glucosamine, rennet, isinglass and amino acids have been harmonized.  In addition to the legally required EU health certificates, a number of other certificates are used in international trade.  These certificates, which may also be harmonized in European Union legislation, certify origin for customs purposes and certain quality attributes.  For more information, consult the FAIRS Certification Report.

Agricultural Standards

The establishment of harmonized EU rules and standards in the food sector has been ongoing for several decades, and it took until January 2002 for the publication of a general food law establishing the principles of European Union-wide food regulations.  This regulation introduced mandatory traceability throughout the feed and food chain as of 2005.  For specific information on agricultural standards, please consult the website of the Foreign Agricultural Service.