The European continent has an extremely diverse climate and varying environmental and soil conditions, which is why a wide range of fruit and vegetable products can be produced here, including, in certain specific areas, tropical fruits such as avocados, mangoes and plantains (also known as green bananas).
Italy and Spain are Europe’s leading vegetable producers and together account for 42% of total production, followed by Poland, the Netherlands and France.
As for vegetables, tomatoes account for about 31% of European vegetable production, followed by carrots and onions.
Italy and Spain are the leading fruit-producing countries in Europe, followed by Poland, France and Greece.
The main fruits produced in Europe include apples, citrus fruits, peaches and nectarines, kiwifruit, table grapes and pears, as well as a substantial amount of strawberries and small fruits, melons and watermelons.
In 2018, Europe produced a total of 46.9 million tonnes of fruit and 55.6 million tonnes of vegetables.
European exports amounted to 21 million tonnes of fruit and 15.32 million tonnes of vegetables.
Despite high production volumes, imports are substantial and amount to
32.3 million tonnes of fruit and 14.7 million tonnes of vegetables.
Source: CSO Italy and Eurostat
ITALY IS THE LEADING PRODUCER COUNTRY IN EUROPE
Thanks to its unique climate and environmental conditions, Italy – together with Spain – is the leading fruit and vegetable producing country in Europe.
Italy is currently the third largest exporter in terms of volume in Europe, with exports worth about €5 billion in 2017 (+3% compared to 2016)1 preceded only by Spain (€13 billion) and the Netherlands. Italy exports 85% of its products to Europe, 40% of which are shipped to Germany. This is why The European Art of Taste project is of crucial importance to expand to new target markets such as China, Taiwan and Japan. Fruit and vegetable exports are subject to phytosanitary protocols established between countries, basically to prevent the proliferation of harmful organisms and diseases. Through a series of exhaustive and very accurate checks, protocols and certifications have been developed, which have demonstrated that the “Made in Italy” market is extremely safe and healthy, allowing the country to become a key player in an ever-expanding market. This was possible thanks to Italy’s great culture and availability, since it offers unique products of superior quality, an unparalleled agricultural heritage when compared to all other market players, in terms of not only varieties but also quality, taste and flavour. Today, purchasing an Italian product means purchasing a product of excellence, which is safe as it is guaranteed by EU certifications, which attest to its quality and nutritional value.
Italy is a world leader in the field of processed products as well. We are talking about the most important Italian fruit and vegetable supply chain in terms of both turnover and quantity produced. The strong performance of the sector is evidenced by the fact that, during the 2017 campaign, Italian companies processed 5.26 million tonnes of tomatoes with approximately 65,000 hectares cultivated, which is in line with the amount processed in 2016. According to data provided by ANICAV (National Association of Vegetable Preserves), Italy is the world’s third largest tomato processor after the USA and just a few positions away from China. Italy alone accounts for about 24% of EU imports to China in this market segment, especially with regard to blood orange juice, which are mainly from Sicily, tomato passata, which is mainly produced in Emilia-Romagna, Apulia and Tuscany, and fresh-cut salads, which are mainly from Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Campania. The tomato preserve sector, in particular, is one of the most outstanding sectors in the Italian food industry, in terms of taste and for their unique quality; in fact, tomato preserves soon became a symbol of Italy worldwide.