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Spain: exports turnover figures do not reflect average results in terms of quantities

08/02/2024 - François-Xavier Branthôme - Architecture of Trade - Lire en français
The results of Spanish export operations in 2022/2023 have been marked by a sharp contrast between the surge in value and the rather average results in terms of quantity, hampered by the climatic difficulties that have penalized the agro-industrial sector in recent years.

As in many other countries that export tomato products, sales results for this sector have soared in Spain over the past two or three years. In 2022/2023 (July-June period), the total value of Spanish foreign sales of tomato products amounted to almost EUR 757 million (USD 793 million), up 30% on the previous year. This meteoric rise is even more impressive compared to the pre-Covid period, since earnings for the last marketing year are over 61% higher than for the 2017/2018-2019/2020 period (EUR 469 million). 

At almost EUR 497 million, foreign sales of tomato pastes (codes 200290) accounted for two-thirds of the total value over the last marketing year. Exports of sauces accounted for 20% of total sales, and canned goods for 14% of the total in 2022/2023.

At the same time as this spectacular increase in value, the Spanish industry has been confronted in recent years with climatic difficulties that have significantly reduced the quantities processed by the industry and sharply eroded the quantities of tomato paste exported. Compared with the previous three years, the markets most affected have also been the historically most important ones: sharp declines have been recorded for purchases from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Belgium, etc. The United Kingdom has been an exception to this rule, maintaining its imports of Spanish tomato pastes virtually unchanged. On a broader scale and in smaller quantities, downturns also affected the regions of Eurasia, Mediterranean Africa, the Middle East, Central America, etc. (See additional information at the end of this article.)
In total, there was a shortfall of just over 100,000 tonnes of paste in 2022/2023, compared with the average performance of the previous three years, in an overall context marked by an upturn in activity in this sector.
 

Exports of canned tomatoes (code 200210) for the 2022/2023 marketing year remained broadly stable compared with the average level of activity in the Spanish industry over the last six or seven years (133,000 tonnes). The refocusing of sales on European Union markets, which began in 2019/2020 at the start of the pandemic, continued last year. Almost 80% of the quantities exported were destined primarily for France, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, etc. Outside the EU, the main markets have been the UK, Korea and Norway.
While most European markets have maintained, or even slightly increased, their purchases of Spanish canned tomatoes, it is important to note the sharp slowdown in the UK's annual imports, from almost 30,000 tonnes during the pandemic to just 20,000 tonnes in 2022/2023.
Despite this stability in terms of volume, the value of Spanish exports of canned tomatoes reached over EUR 107 million (USD 112 million) in 2022/2023, up 58% on the average value for the previous three years (EUR 68 million) and 84% on the pre-Covid period.

Spain's foreign sales of sauces & ketchup (codes 210320), slowed for a while during the pandemic but resumed growth again in 2015/2016. The quantities mobilized last year totalled almost 104,000 tonnes, 10% more than the average for the previous three years (94,000 tonnes) and 26% more than during the pre-Covid period (82,000 tonnes).
The two main historical markets, France and the United Kingdom, were the most important growth drivers, unlike a few other countries (Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Australia). It is also important to highlight the emergence of the Moroccan market as a customer for Spanish sauces, with annual purchases that have risen from a few hundred tonnes up until 2017/2028 to almost 11,000 tonnes in 2021/2022 and almost 9,000 tonnes in 2022/2023. 
On a broader level, the surge in Spanish sales of tomato sauces has been accompanied by a rebalancing of export flows in favor of markets outside the EU (see additional information at the end of this article).

For the current marketing year 2023/2024, available figures (July-November period) for exports of pastes point to a clear slowdown in activity in the this sector (118,000 tonnes exported compared to 159,000 tonnes for the same period last year) and in the canned tomatoes sector (54,000 tonnes this year compared to 59,000 tonnes last year). On the other hand, foreign sales of sauces are currently progressing strongly, with 50,000 tonnes for the first five months of the 2023/2024 marketing year, compared with 39,000 tonnes for the same period last year.

Some complementary data
Trends in quantities processed in Spain since 1989.

Average annual growth rate (CAGR) of Spanish exports of pastes, according to region, over the last four years.

Comparison of Spanish annual exports of sauces, within and outside the EU.

Sources: Trade Data Monitor
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