Dutch agricultural exports worth €94.5 billion in 2019

In 2019, the Netherlands exported €94.5 billion worth of  agricultural goods. That is a 4.6% increase on the €90.4 billion export figure for 2018. Around two-thirds of this growth is due to an increase in export prices, while a third is due to higher export volume. Last year saw not only an increase in the export of agricultural goods, but also of agricultural machinery, greenhouse materials and machinery used in the foodstuffs sector. The export of agriculture-related goods grew by 8% to a value of €9.9 billion. These figures are the result of a study carried out by Wageningen Economic Research and Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

Export figures for 2019 show that the Dutch agriculture and horticulture sector holds a leading position on the global market. But such a position also comes with responsibilities. The growing global population is increasing demand for food. At the same time, food production must be made sustainable. This means it is all the more important that we use our knowledge, innovation and inventiveness to find solutions to these issues and in the process strengthen our  international position even more. Dutch agricultural knowledge is already being applied to challenges elsewhere in the world in the areas of food production and sustainability. One example is greenhouse construction, where, at present, around 80% of profits are generated abroad, compared with 20% in the Netherlands.

‘Dutch farmers, growers and fishers produce appealing, high-quality products for both the domestic and international markets,’ says agriculture minister Carola Schouten. ‘And the increase in production has gone hand in hand with a significant increase in sustainability in terms of the environment, energy and use of raw materials. That's something I’m proud of. I’ve noticed that other countries are very interested in our production methods. Not only in terms of scale, but also the knowledge and technologies we use to make it all happen. Dutch technical innovations in the agricultural sector are spreading across the globe. But we can share our knowledge and know-how with many more people, including as a way to contribute to climate goals.’

Destination number one: Germany

As in previous years, most of our agricultural exports in 2019 went to our neighbouring countries. A quarter of the total estimated exports went to Germany (€23.6 billion), followed by Belgium (€10.8 billion), the United Kingdom (€8.7 billion) and France (€7.7 billion). That means these four countries account for 54% of all Dutch agricultural exports. Germany saw the largest increase in absolute terms in 2019, receiving an additional €878 million worth of Dutch agricultural exports. China was in second place, receiving an additional €538 million – an increase of 22% in one year. This was primarily the result of significant growth in the export of pork and infant formula.

The report drawn up by Wageningen Economic Research and Statistics Netherlands states that primary (i.e. unprocessed) and secondary (i.e. processed) agricultural goods contributed almost €42 billion to the Dutch economy last year. That figure is the export value minus the import value of goods and services that were needed to produce and export goods. The vast majority (92%) of exports were products made in the Netherlands, while the remaining 8% came from goods that were first imported before undergoing limited processing and then being exported. The most profitable export sectors for the Netherlands are ornamental plants and flowers (€5.8 billion), dairy products and eggs (€4.3 billion), meat (€4.0 billion) and vegetables (€3.5 billion).