EU tops global agri-food exports with help of criticised ‘market oriented’ approach

Oct 2019

EU tops global agri-food exports with help of criticised ‘market-oriented’ approach


The EU has once again reigned as the world’s largest exporter for agri-food products, with the aid of the hotly debated ‘market-oriented’ approach, according to a report released by the European Commission on Friday. 


EU agri-food exports have continued to champion that of other blocs, reaching a total of €138 billion in 2018, with wines and vermouth dominating the basket of exported products, followed by spirits and liqueurs. 


This is no small feat, as agriculture and food-related industries and services have been found to provide almost 44 million jobs in the EU.


The continued success of agri-food produce exports has partly been put down to the push for a market-oriented approach, which encourages efficient farming to keep food prices low. 


As explained in a European Commission statement, Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said: “The increasingly market-oriented Common Agricultural Policy has made a decisive contribution to the EU's success in agricultural trade.” 


Yet, such a market-oriented approach has recently pulled into question whether business decisions should be made based on profit over standards such as hygiene, the environment or long-term planning. 


Earlier this year, the mass rearing and chlorine-rinsing of US chicken was blasted in the media, as the process raised questions over whether competitive prices are an acceptable excuse for a product which does not adhere to hygiene standards. 


Hogan stresses that the EU’s market-oriented agricultural model works in conjunction with safe and sustainably produced agricultural trade: “The EU's reputation for having safe, sustainably produced, nutritious and quality products is a winning formula in the global marketplace.


“The Commission is here to assist producers in taking full advantage of opportunities around the globe, while always making sure that our more sensitive sectors are provided with sufficient safeguards.”


The top five destinations for the EU's agri-food products continue to thrive, with the United States, China, Switzerland, Japan and Russia, accounting for 40% of EU exports, and more opportunities for agri-food produce exports are on the horizon. 


In 2018 and 2019, Commissioner Hogan travelled to China, Japan and the United Arab Emirates alongside a team of EU producers looking for new business opportunities. 


But will entering new markets see a greater push for a market-oriented approach, and if so, what will that mean for EU standards?