The value of exported agri-food products was more than EUR 1.7 billion in 2020. The value of exports increased massively between 2015 and 2020, by nearly a quarter of a billion (+16%). The value of imports was EUR 5.3 billion, also showing an increase of roughly a quarter of a billion (+5.3%) from 2015. Relatively, exports have grown much more strongly than imports.
“Measured by value, the most significant exported product groups were milk and dairy products, processed food products, and fish and fish products. Imports were dominated by processed food products, beverages, sugar confectionery, and fruit and berries. Meat imports have shown a noticeably decreasing trend for several years now,” says Irene Rosokivi, senior statistician at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
Increased alcohol exports slowed down during the coronavirus year
In recent years, Finland has invested in the development, branding and export of alcoholic products, which has also been reflected in export figures. Exports of alcohol have increased for several years in succession. However, last year, the value of alcohol exports decreased by a little more than a fifth. This can largely be explained by the coronavirus pandemic. During 2020, alcohol exports to Estonia and Poland, in particular, decreased significantly, while exports to Sweden, the most important trading partner, remained unchanged.
Cereal exports remained high
Both the value and volume of cereal exports have nearly doubled since 2018. The increase in exports has resulted from the recovery of the cereal harvest in 2019 after a few years of lower harvest levels. In 2020, cereal exports totalled 0.74 billion kilos, or EUR 0.14 billion. The highest volumes of cereals were exported to Germany, the Netherlands and Morocco.
“Cereal exports increased relatively the most to Morocco, Spain and South Africa, with the exported volume doubling from the previous year’s level. However, cereal exports to Sweden and the UK nearly halved”, Rosokivi says.
The value of imported fish decreased
In 2020, Finland imported a total of 97 million kilos of fish and fish products.
“The value of imports decreased by roughly EUR 35 million. Fresh whole salmon was imported the most, a total of 46 million kilos, of which 23 million kilos were, however, further exported. The volume of frozen whole Baltic herring exported from Finland was 26 million kilos,” says Pentti Moilanen, senior statistician at Luke.
Exports to China increased massively
Sweden, Estonia and China were the leading countries in agri-food product exports. Exports to Sweden had the highest value, a total of EUR 0.35 billion. It was followed by Estonia and China, each with EUR 0.15 billion. Key products exported to Sweden were sugar confectionery, chocolate, butter and yoghurt, while fish, alcoholic beverages and coffee were the main product groups exported to Estonia. Of all leading export countries, exports to China increased the most noticeably, by more than 56 million kilos from the previous year. During the last five years, exports to China have nearly quadrupled.
Two products stand out in exports to China
In 2020, exports to China consisted almost exclusively of two products: pork and milk powder. Having already started to increase in 2019, pork exports were boosted in 2020 by swine fever, which tested pig farms in China. In 2020, pork was exported from Finland to China at a total value of EUR 46 million, comprising nearly half of total pork exports. The value of milk powder exported to China was EUR 59 million.
Raw material for biofuels from the Netherlands
In 2020, the most important trading partner for Finland in imports was the Netherlands, from which various waste oils and greases were mainly imported, primarily for the production of biofuels. Furthermore, garden plants and plant propagating material were imported from the Netherlands at a value of more than EUR 80 million. The import figures for the Netherlands include small volumes of transiting from other countries. In other words, imports of products of Dutch origin are in reality smaller than the figures presented in the statistics.
Bakery products from Germany and Sweden
Germany was another important import country, with bakery products, feed and cheese being the most important product groups. Imports from Sweden included sugar confectionery, chocolate, processed food products, and fish and fish products in addition to bakery products. Large quantities of fruit and vegetables, as well as alcoholic beverages, were imported from Spain.
Background to the statistics
The statistics for foreign trade in agri-food products are based on the International Trade Statistics of Finnish Customs and its CN codes 1–24. In addition, the statistical database includes starch and sugar products from outside CN codes 1–24. However, these are not included in the published statistics.
Preliminary monthly and annual statistics are published regarding foreign trade in agri-food products. In addition to the preliminary annual statistics, final annual statistics are published in the autumn. You can subscribe to a free email version of the statistics for foreign trade in agri-food products here https://stat.luke.fi/en/order-releases.
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