Agricultural exports on the rise

Agricultural exports continued to rise in 2011 in spite of a downturn in 2010 as a result of the 2009 economic crisis. The total value of agricultural exports increased from €66.6 billion in 2010 to €72.8 billion in 2011, an increase of 9%.

Henk Bleker, Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade, announced these results at the Grüne Woche. The International Grüne Woche in Berlin, with 450,000 visitors, is the largest international trade fair for food, agriculture and horticulture.

Export value

Germany is by far the most important trading partner for the Netherlands for agricultural products. Twenty-six per cent of our agricultural exports go to Germany. The increased value of these exports came mainly from cheese, beef and poultry meat. The export value of vegetables and fruit was markedly lower than last year. A contributing factor was the poor price obtained for cucumbers and tomatoes as a result of the EHEC crisis.

Bleker: "The new agricultural export figures are certainly a great boost. It demonstrates that even in difficult economic times Dutch agricultural businesses make the most of the opportunities there are. The primary sector’s contribution to kick-starting the economy is considerable. They deserve to be complimented.”

Opportunities in Germany

Currently Dutch agri-business is focussing mainly on neighbouring Nordrhein-Westfalen and Lower Saxony. The market share in southern Germany is much smaller. On the initiative of Minister Bleker a study has being carried out by the Dutch Embassy in Berlin and the agricultural sector to identify opportunities for the agri-food sector in southern Germany. It shows that one of the most important factors for improving market position is communication with the consumer. Southern German consumers have strong ties with their own traditional producers. To establish itself on this market the Netherlands needs to present itself as a country producing stainable and high-quality products. Direct investment in southern Germany or creative cooperation in the chain are effective ways of achieving this.

Minister Bleker: "We will set to work with businesses and knowledge institutes. Our competitors don’t stand still and we must grasp the opportunities – and they are certainly there – in a clever and creative way. The German export market is essential for the Dutch agricultural sector. For example, if we lost one per cent on this market it would affect us as badly as if all our agricultural exports to Brazil were stopped.”

The Netherlands Grüne Woche partner country 2013

In the 2013 anniversary year the Netherlands will be a Grüne Woche partner country. Our country has been represented at this agricultural fair since 1953 and is the oldest participant. In recognition of this anniversary Minister Bleker’s signing of the Contract for Partnerland Niederlande 2013 with Messe Berlin Chairman, Mr Hosch, had a festive character.

“Next year will mark ten years that the Netherlands has taken a central role as partner country at the Grüne Woche. This is an ideal opportunity for the Top Sectors Agri-food and Horticulture and propagating material. We will do our utmost to maintain and expand the prominent position of the Netherlands as producer of high-quality, sustainable agricultural products on our most important market", said the Minister.

During the visit by German Agriculture Minister Aigner, Minister Bleker opened the website developed with the sector:, intended to present Dutch agricultural businesses to Germany. Over the coming year, in the framework of the Netherlands Grüne Woche partner country 2013, the site will provide up-to-date information for Germany on the activities of the Dutch agri-food and horticulture sectors and the Ministry.