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Sauces & ketchup: the main markets in 2020

23/06/2021 - François-Xavier Branthôme - Architecture of Trade - Lire en français
World trade grew 3% in 2020

In a similar way to the annual progressions recorded by the other categories of our industry and commented in recent weeks (see our linked articles), worldwide imports of sauces and ketchup increased in 2020 by close on 3% compared to 2019, with an even more remarkable increase of close on 5% compared to the average performance of the three previous years (2017, 2018 and 2019).
In terms of volume, the figures collected by Trade Data Monitor indicate that imports amounted to approximately 1.436 million metric tonnes of finished products last year, against 1.396 million mT in 2019 and an average of 1.373 million mT over the period running 2017-2019.
This slight acceleration in volume, most likely linked to the Covid pandemic, saw a parallel considerable increase in terms of value, reaching close on 7.5% compared to 2019, and 8.5% compared to the average of the three previous years. So the progression in terms of value was more marked than the growth in quantities, which demonstrates a notable increase in the per-unit value of the products traded, probably due to an acceleration in demand and a drop in the availability of products. Overall, the value of the products traded in the tomato sauces category in 2020 amounted to approximately USD 1.89 billion (EUR 1.65 billion), against a total of USD 1.76 billion (EUR 1.54 billion) the previous year.

The usual main supplier regions in this category were paradoxically not the main beneficiaries of this growth in trade. A notable exception in a trade context that was generally positive, the United States, which are the world's #1 country in the sauces and ketchup category, only exported slightly less than 295,000 mT of products last year (less than 20% of the worldwide market in 2020), thus confirming the slowdown in their foreign trade dynamics that first appeared in 2016/2017. So last year, the US performance dropped by almost 38,000 mT (-11%) of finished products compared to the average recorded over the period running 2017-2019. 
In this respect, it should also be noted that the world's #2 player in this category, the Netherlands, recorded similar dynamics, with annual performances that have declined regularly since 2015/2016. However, thanks to a very small improvement in foreign trade in 2020, and 236,000 mT exported, the Netherlands managed to maintain their market share at approximately 16% of the worldwide market.
These shifts in the international trade balance allowed a number of national industries to develop their activities, the two most notable ones being Italy and Spain. Italian operators exported 185,000 mT of products, an increase of 48,000 mT (+35%) compared to the three previous years, and Spanish operators exported 95,000 mT, an increase of 17,000 mT (+22%) compared to 2017-2019. Costa Rica, Canada, Belgium, Russia, China, Portugal, Germany, and a number of other countries also considerably improved their performances. Another notable exception to this growth pattern for international trade, British exports (1.6% of the worldwide market) fell back by 4300 mT (-18%) in 2020 compared to the average result of the period running 2017-2019.

In a distribution pattern that is reminiscent of the destination markets for the canned tomatoes category, the main import markets for tomato sauces and ketchup were mostly European. In 2020, western EU countries absorbed 36.5% of the volumes traded around the world, while eastern EU countries absorbed 7.5%, and non-European countries (including the UK) absorbed 16%. Overall, these countries of Europe imported close on 850,000 mT of finished products, which alone accounts for over 60% of the quantities shipped worldwide.
Other regions should also be included among strategic outlet markets. Unsurprisingly, these include North America (United States and Canada) and Central America (mainly represented by Mexico and Guatemala).
Imports to these five regions alone accounted for more than 1.175 million mT of sauces and ketchup last year, which is more than 82% of the total volumes shipped (1.436 million mT).

Just five countries absorbed almost half of the worldwide trade flow for this category. The world's top three buyers of sauces and ketchup are the same three countries that lead worldwide trade in the canned tomatoes category (UK, Germany and France), followed by Canada and Mexico (see complementary information at the end of this article).
With more than 182,000 mT imported in 2020, the British market further widened its passive trade balance for the tomato sauces category by more than 5800 mT of finished products, settling an annual invoice of approximately USD 192 million for these products. This invoice is lower than Germany's, whose expenditure amounted last year to close on USD 212 million, for imports amounting to approximately 149,000 mT, which is 9000 mT more than in 2019.
Conversely, France considerably shrunk its passive trade balance for the sauces and ketchup category: French purchases in 2020 did not exceed 143,000 mT (against 163,000 mT the previous year), for expenditure of close on USD 199 million. As for Canada, USD 166 million were invested to supply close on 136,000 mT of finished products in 2020, thereby significantly reducing the deficit of its tomato sauces trade balance.
At close on 81,000 mT last year, Mexican imports of sauces and ketchup increased sharply in 2020, causing the passive trade balance for this category to explode last year, increasing from 33,000 mT in 2019 to 55,000 mT in 2020. Mexican expenditure for supplies of sauces amounted to approximately USD 46 million, which is slightly down on the USD 49 million invoiced in 2019.


Some additional information:
The 15 main importing countries for the tomato sauces and ketchup category

Source: Trade Data Monitor
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