Romania - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Products
Last published date:


Agriculture plays an integral and unique role in Romania’s economy. About 12 percent of Romanians are employed in agricultural-related activities, compared to the European Union (EU) member average of 4 percent. Romania’s 2.9 million agricultural landowners account for one-third of the EU’s agricultural holdings. Since the average farm size - 4.42 hectares (HA) - is considerably smaller than the EU average of 15 HA, many of these farms are subsistence and semi-subsistence farms producing for their family’s needs.

Romania accounts for 10 percent of EU grain and oilseed production during normal production years. Corn remains Romania’s top grain crop in terms of both area and production, followed by wheat and barley. In terms of oilseeds, sunflower area is the top crop, followed by rapeseed and soybeans. At the EU level, Romania is Europe’s largest sunflower producer as well as a top three producer of corn and soybeans. In 2023, grain and oilseed production is anticipated to grow by 27 percent after falling by 30 percent in 2022 due to prolonged dryness and heat waves. The increased availability of grain and oilseed production is expected to result in a 35-percent increase in exports in 2023. On average, about 60 percent of the harvest of grains and oilseeds is exported.  

In recent years, Romanian farmers have sought to maximize production efficiencies and, therefore, have become increasingly open to smart agriculture. Land conservation practices, chemical mapping, and variable sowing densities based on soil structure and nutrient levels are being increasingly adopted by Romanian farmers. The increased frequency of dry years urged both the private and public sectors to consider accelerating investments into irrigation infrastructure. Some of the old and non-functioning pumping stations have been refurbished. Farmers close enough to water supplies have accessed EU financing to set up irrigation systems. However, for many farmers, access to irrigation remains dependent on the connection to large-scale irrigation infrastructure, including large canals and pumping stations, which are to be established or upgraded.

Due to its access to the Black Sea and Danube River ports, Romania is the main route to transit Ukrainian grains and oilseeds after Russia’s invasion. Romania has allocated financial resources to upgrade its infrastructure, increased the number of border inspectors, and reduced transit documentation requirements in order to facilitate the grain transshipping. The transit capacity is estimated to double in the second half of 2023 particularly due to a higher number of ships being allowed to navigate on the Danube River.

In December 2022, the EU Commission approved the Romanian National Strategic Plan, aimed to increase the economic viability of farms, reduce income disparities between farms and raise the competitiveness of the agricultural sector. The total budget allocated for Romania under the program is $16.6 billion for the financial framework 2023-2027, split between the two main pillars, farm income support and rural development. 

Despite its prominence in agricultural commodity production, Romania remains a net food importer. Imports increased by 16 percent, while exports grew only by 11.5 percent, due to a smaller-size crop and the loss of competitiveness because of the strong competition from other Black Sea suppliers (Table 1). Consequently, the import deficit nearly doubled compared to the previous year. Major imports consisted of meat, horticulture, dairy, feed ingredients, and grains in 2022, while grains, oilseeds, fats, and live animals were the main export commodities.  

Table 1: Total Agricultural Trade - Romania (2018-2022)  

$ Million20182019202020212022
Agricultural Imports9,0159,43310,20012,02613,923
Agricultural Exports7,6558,0297,98211,29412,600
Agricultural Trade Deficit-1,360-1,404-2,218-732-1,323

Source: Trade Data Monitor (TDM)  

U.S. food and agricultural products flow into Romania either directly from the United States (mainly bulk and intermediate products) or are transshipped through the other western EU ports of entry in Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany (consisting mainly of consumer-oriented goods). According to the National Institute of Statistics, U.S. food and agricultural products imports were valued at $190.4 million in 2022, up 4.6 percent from 2021. Major categories, such as food preparations, sunflower seeds, soybeans, tree nuts, and distilled spirits, accounted for nearly 70 percent of total U.S. food and agricultural exports to Romania.  

Leading Sub-Sectors   

Soybeans and Soybean meal 

Romania is the third largest soybean producer in the EU. Soy production subsidies have incentivized farmers to keep a relatively stable area and production over the last five years. Soy is planted in areas with adequate rainfall or access to irrigations. Generally, Romania exports over half of its local soy production to other EU markets, notably Germany and Austria, which have strong demand for non-genetically engineered feed ingredients. On the other hand, Romania imports soybeans and soybean meal, mostly from South America and the United States, in order to cover the livestock demand (Table 2).

Table 2: Soybeans and Soybean Meal Imports, Romania, 2018-2022

$ Million   2018    2019  2020 20212022
Total soybeans and soybean meal from World     346   243   315 378440
- Of which from the United States    55.9    21   17 2533

Sources: Trade Data Monitor; National Institute of Statistics   

Tree Nuts

In 2022, Romanian total tree nuts import value grew by 3.3 percent. The United States is one of Romania’s largest tree nuts suppliers, accounting for a quarter of the import value in 2022. Tree nuts imports from the United States recovered after a significant plunge in 2020 due to COVID restrictions, reaching $17.6 million, a value which exceeded the pre-pandemic levels (Table 3). Within the tree nuts category, the United States is a major supplier of almonds and walnuts. 

 Table 3: Tree Nuts imports, Romania, 2018-2022

$ Million   2018   2019  202020212022
Total tree nuts imports from World    42.6   41.5  41.062.664.7
- of which almonds   10.9   10.5
- of which walnuts   15.5  15.0  14.23337
Total tree nuts imports from the United States   9.2   10.5  6.811.417.6
- of which almonds    5.7   6.5
- of which walnuts   2.7   1.0

Sources: Trade Data Monitor; National Institute of Statistics    

Distilled Spirits  

Romanian total import value of distilled spirits expanded further in 2022 after nearly doubling in 2021 (Table 4) supported by solid demand and new trends in consumers’ preferences. Whiskey imports accounted for 45 percent of total spirits imports, followed by liqueurs at 16 percent, and vodka at 9 percent. U.S.-origin whiskey accounted for 12 percent of total whiskey import value in 2022. 

Table 4: Distilled imports, Romania, 2018-2022

$ Million     2018    2019   2020 20212022
Total Distilled Spirits from World    125.4   136.8   122.3 229.7288
- Of which from the United States    17.7    15.8   11.7 14.915.9

 Sources: Trade Data Monitor; National Institute of Statistics   

Sweet Potatoes

While sweet potatoes are growing in popularity in Romania in both food service and retail sectors, they are still a niche item in the Romanian vegetable market. Imports have been steadily growing due to rising demand and consumers’ interest in a diversified diet. In 2022, United States accounted for 50 percent in the total sweet potatoes import value (Table 5).

Table 5: Sweet Potatoes Imports, Romania, 2018-2022 

$ Million     2018    2019    2020 20212022
Total Sweet Potatoes from world    1.4 2.0 2.3 3.23.5
-Of which from the United States    0.7 1.11.2 2.21.8

Sources: Trade Data Monitor; National Institute of Statistics   

Opportunities for additional U.S. exports:  

  • Beef  
  • Fish and seafood 
  • Pet food  
  • Sauces   
  • Wines  
  • Fruit and vegetable juices  

Web Resources (GAIN reports)