Food Exports by Country

Food Exports by Country, Top 10 Countries

The Top 10 Food Exporting Countries in 2024

Food production and agricultural exports continue to grow in importance in the global economy. Some countries have become major food exporters due to their large domestic food production capacities and strong export industries.


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The following list highlights the top 10 food exporting countries in 2023:

1. The United States

The United States is the world’s largest food exporter, exporting over $170 billion worth of agricultural products in 2022. Key exports include soybeans, corn, wheat, dairy, beef, pork, poultry, tree nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The size of the U.S. domestic market and advanced transportation infrastructure allow it to ship food easily all over the world.

2. The Netherlands

Although small in size, the Netherlands has become a leading global food exporter due to its highly efficient agricultural sector. It exported over $120 billion in agricultural products in 2022. The country is a top exporter of meat, dairy, vegetables, fruits, flowers, eggs, and tree nuts. Its main markets are Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia.

3. Germany

Germany exported over $90 billion in agricultural and food products in 2022. Key German food exports include meat, dairy, bread, wine, potatoes, sugar beets, and baby food. Germany has a strong reputation for quality and food safety, helping drive export growth. Proximity to other European markets further boosts German food exports.

4. Brazil

Brazil has rapidly grown into a major agricultural exporter, with food exports exceeding $88 billion in 2022. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of coffee, sugar, orange juice, beef, chicken and soybeans. Brazil supplies many emerging markets with agricultural commodities due to its low production costs and proximity to key South American markets.

5. China

Although a major food importer as well, China exported over $80 billion worth of agricultural products in 2022. Key Chinese food exports include apple, pear, citrus fruits, vegetables, seafood, tea and edible nuts. Rising domestic production and government support has enabled China to ship more food abroad recently. Proximity to major Asian markets further propels Chinese food exports.

6. France

France exported over $77 billion in agricultural products in 2022. France is a major exporter of wheat, dairy products, pork, poultry, wine, fruit and vegetables. Quality and strong brand recognition boosts exports of French foods and wine. France exports mainly to other EU countries as well as the U.S. and Asia.

7. Canada

Canada exported $49 billion worth of agricultural and seafood products in 2022. Canada is a major producer and exporter of wheat, pork, beef, pulses, canola oil, maple syrup and processed foods. Proximity and free trade access to the massive U.S. market provides a natural export advantage for Canadian agricultural producers.

8. Spain

Spain exported over $47 billion in food products in 2022. Key Spanish food exports include pork, olive oil, wine, citrus fruits, nuts, cheese, and ham. Spain has focused on producing luxury and high-quality food and beverage products that command premium prices in export markets. Top destinations for Spanish food exports include France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, and the UK.

9. Australia

Australia exported over $46 billion worth of agricultural products in 2022. It is a major exporter of wheat, beef, wine, wool, dairy products, fruit, nuts and seafood. High production capacity and proximity to growing Asian markets has boosted Australian food exports. Key markets include China, Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

10. Italy

Italy exported $44 billion worth of food and agricultural items in 2022. Well-known Italian food exports include cheese, cured meats, pasta, olive oil, wine, tomatoes, fruits, coffee and confectionary items. Quality, strong branding and name recognition power Italian food exports around the world. Top markets include Germany, France, the U.S. and the UK.

Food exports by country: trends and challenges

Food is one of the most essential commodities in the world, and its trade has significant implications for food security, nutrition, income generation, and environmental sustainability. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), globally exported food products were worth a total of US$1.314 trillion in 2020, accounting for 7.5% of worldwide exports for all goods. However, the patterns and dynamics of food exports vary widely across countries and regions, reflecting different levels of production, consumption, and competitiveness. In this blog post, we will explore some of the main trends and challenges of food exports by country, based on the latest statistics from FAO.


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Top food exporters and importers

The top food exporters in 2020 were the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, and the Netherlands, which together accounted for 32.4% of the global food export value. The United States was the largest food exporter, with a value of US$173.6 billion, followed by Brazil with US$101.9 billion, China with US$97.5 billion, Germany with US$86.9 billion, and the Netherlands with US$82.2 billion. These countries have diverse comparative advantages in different food categories, such as cereals, meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and processed foods.

The top food importers in 2020 were China, the United States, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom, which together accounted for 32.8% of the global food import value. China was the largest food importer, with a value of US$133.1 billion, followed by the United States with US$131.4 billion, Germany with US$89.4 billion, Japan with US$68.6 billion, and the United Kingdom with US$64.7 billion. These countries have high levels of food demand, driven by factors such as population size, income level, dietary preferences, and domestic production constraints.

Food export trends by region

The regional distribution of food exports has changed significantly over time, reflecting shifts in production capacity, consumption patterns, trade policies, and market opportunities. According to FAO’s Statistical Yearbook 2022, Asia was the largest food exporting region in 2020, with a value of US$430.9 billion, followed by Europe with US$407.4 billion, North America with US$215.8 billion, South America with US$144.8 billion, Africa with US$61.6 billion, and Oceania with US$53.5 billion.

Asia’s share of global food exports increased from 23% in 2000 to 33% in 2020, mainly due to the rapid growth of China’s food exports. Europe’s share decreased from 40% to 31% over the same period, partly due to the impact of Brexit on the United Kingdom’s food exports. North America’s share remained stable at around 16%, while South America’s share increased from 9% to 11%, driven by Brazil’s strong performance in agricultural commodities. Africa’s share decreased from 5% to 5%, reflecting its limited integration into global food markets. Oceania’s share decreased from 6% to 4%, mainly due to Australia’s droughts and wildfires affecting its agricultural production.

Food export challenges by category

Food exports face various challenges depending on the type and quality of the products involved. Some of these challenges include:

  • Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures: These are regulations that aim to protect human, animal, and plant health from pests, diseases, contaminants, and other hazards that may arise from food trade. However, some SPS measures may also act as non-tariff barriers that restrict market access for food exporters or increase their costs of compliance.
  • Technical barriers to trade (TBT): These are regulations that specify technical requirements for food products, such as standards, testing methods, certification procedures, labeling rules, and packaging specifications. TBT measures may also affect food trade by creating technical obstacles or increasing transaction costs for food exporters or importers.
  • Climate change and environmental degradation: These are factors that affect the availability and quality of natural resources that are essential for food production and trade, such as land, water, biodiversity, and energy. Climate change and environmental degradation may also increase the risks of crop failures, pest infestations, food spoilage, and transport disruptions for food exporters or importers.
  • Food loss and waste: These are the reductions in the quantity or quality of food that occur along the food supply chain, from production to consumption. Food loss and waste may result from various causes, such as poor harvesting practices, inadequate storage facilities, inefficient transportation systems, lack of market information, or consumer behavior. Food loss and waste may reduce the profitability and sustainability of food exports or imports.

References:

http://faostat.fao.org/Portals/_Faostat/documents/pdf/FAOSTAT-Forestry-def-e.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Share-of-the-major-countries-in-sturgeon-production-A-Share-of-the-major-countries-in_fig2_348296880

https://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/FO/visualize

Statistics | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
World’s Top Food Exports Special Data Report



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