Allegrini 2018

Made in Italy agro-food exports to the EU in the first quarter in line with 2020

Covid-19 effect: the pandemic that exploded in March in all European countries canceled out growth in January and February 2020
agri-food industry, Confagricoltura, EXPORT UE, MADE IN ITALY, WINE, News
Coldiretti data: 2.654 food alarms revealed in the first nine months of 2018

How hard the international markets of Made in Italy agro-food will be hit due to the Covid effect, will only be fully revealed in the coming months. Plus, the data will be pretty much disastrous, as well as a source of distress for Italy, primarily due to the fact that 2020, after all, started out very well. Indeed, in the first 4 months exports outside the EU had grown up to +3.7% compared to 2019 (wine at + 3.3%), and also on the EU level, in general, there had been growth in January and February 2020. Then, in March 2020, growth was totally canceled out when the Covid-19 pandemic exploded in all the major EU countries. Therefore, between January and March 2020, trade was essentially the same as 2019, i.e., at -0.2%, for 4.85 billion euros, despite the dramatic drop in March alone to -12.8% compared to the same period in 2019. This information comes from the Italian farmers confederation, Confagricoltura analysis, on data from Istat and the Customs Agency. Wine stayed within the average for the sector, showing a slight drop of 0.5%, for 692.7 million euros.
“If the Covid emergency had not broken out, Made in Italy agro-food exports to EU countries would have increased significantly in 2020, thanks to +4% growth in January and +10% in February. However, these percentages were canceled out in March, when the pandemic spread throughout Europe, placing restrictions on peoples’ movements, closing down restaurants, wine bars, cafeterias and tourist hospitality activities”, pointed out Massimiliano Giansanti, head of the agricultural organization.
As far as the most exported agricultural and food industry products to the European Union countries are concerned, the Confagricoltura Research Center report indicated significant differences, by product and by month, in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. A prime example is olive oil, which dropped -6% in January, -16% in February then gained +2.4% in March. Dairy products and cheeses instead grew + 6.6% in January, to +7.7 in February, to then plummet -16% in March.
Regarding exports, the consequences of the Coronavirus emergency are obvious primarily due to movement restrictions of people internationally, including seasonal agricultural labor, indispensable for harvesting products, the restrictions on the on trade market activities of the sector, and changes in demand for agro-food products due to lockdown measures.
In March, when the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic spread to a larger number of EU countries, 10 out of 15 product categories registered a negative trend in export value compared to March 2019. Plus, 8 of these products showed decreases over 10%, down to a maximum -47% for flowers and plants. The study highlighted that not all production sectors were affected in the same way by the pandemic. For instance, rice and grains grew (+ 9.6% in January, +24.1% in February and + 13.3% in March) and so did cold cuts (+12.1%, +14.6 and +9.2).

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