Last year, Romania’s food product exports were over 2.1 billion euros, up 24% compared to the previous year, according to calculations made by ZF based on data from the National Institute of Statistics (INS).
However, the increase in exports could not cover even half of the trade deficit in the food area.
Thus, food imports stood at 6.8 billion euros in 2021, so the deficit reached 4.7 billion euros. Food imports had a lower growth rate than exports, namely 14.5% compared to 2020, but it was not enough to reduce the trade deficit in this sector.
How much has the food deficit reached in Romania?
Romania has a deficit in all basic foods. Thus, the trade deficit for meat exceeds 700 million euros, while milk reaches over 500 million euros. For fruits, the trade deficit exceeds 600 million euros, and for vegetables, the indicator exceeds 400 million euros, according to ZF calculations. “Romania imported over 525,000 tons of pork. The problem is not with the producers, but with the authorities because as long as the measures to combat African swine fever are completely lacking, it is complicated”, says Dana Tănase, executive director of the Romanian Meat Association (ARC).
“We bring meat from outside, most farms in Romania have been blocked for long periods of time and, as such, in order to put Romanian products on the European market, we have to work with eligible raw material.” She adds that practically “in order to take the small Romanians in Romanian communities abroad, producers must use raw materials from outside the country”.
We import more than we export
And the situation in the meat sector is not unique. Romania imports 100 times more tomatoes than it exports, and farmers throw tomatoes away during the season due to overproduction and the lack of organization of small farms in Romania or the reluctance to join cooperatives.
On the other hand, Romania exports raw materials. Due to the fact that cereals are not transformed into a finished product in Romania but abroad, it led to imports of milling industry products of 131 million euros, compared to exports of 26.7 million euros. On the other hand, grain exports amount to 3.6 billion euros.