European Union 2021 Export Highlights

Top 10 U.S. Agricultural Exports to European Union

(values in million USD)
Commodity 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2020-2021 % Change 2017-2021 Average
Tree Nuts 2,495 2,572 2,904 2,681 2,754 3% 2,681
Soybeans 1,637 2,968 1,853 1,889 2,223 18% 2,114
Distilled Spirits 604 633 491 463 565 22% 551
Essential Oils 470 510 525 493 563 14% 512
Food Preparations 356 341 370 419 440 5% 385
Planting Seeds 442 459 458 406 383 -6% 429
Dextrins, Peptones, & Proteins 253 266 311 311 322 4% 293
Feeds, Meals & Fodders 296 319 202 202 246 22% 253
Soybean Meal 95 332 205 183 221 21% 207
Vegetable Oils* 292 193 162 178 219 23% 209
All Others 3,538 3,939 3,308 3,139 3,027 -4% 3,390
Total Exported 10,478 12,532 10,788 10,362 10,961 6% 11,024

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Trade Data - BICO HS-10
*Excludes soybeans


In 2021, the European Union (EU) was the fifth-largest export destination for U.S. agricultural products, with exports up 6 percent from last year. The United States is the third top supplier of agricultural goods in the EU, trailing behind the UK and Brazil. In October 2021, the U.S. and EU agreed to replace the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU with a tariff-rate quota system, effective January 2022. In response, the EU lifted retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, including whiskey and cranberries. The commodities that saw the largest increase in exports to the EU in 2021 were soybeans ($334 million), distilled spirits ($102 million), and tree nuts ($73 million). Commodities showing declines in 2021 were wheat (down $124 million), hides and skins ($74 million), and non-beverage ethanol ($61 million). The EU was the top destination for tree nuts, essential oils, planting seeds, distilled spirits, and seafood.


  • The EU rebounded from its 2020 real GDP decline of 5.9 percent with a projected 5.1 percent GDP growth in 2021, contributing to an increase in food and beverage consumption.
  • The United States continues to remain the top supplier of tree nuts to the EU. The COVID-19 pandemic and related supply chain logistical issues moderately decreased U.S. tree nut exports to the EU, but exports began recovering in the first half of 2021. The growing popularity of healthier snacking and eating habits among European consumers continues to encourage consumption of tree nuts.
  • U.S. exports of distilled spirits were up 22 percent from last year. U.S. whiskies, bourbon, vodka, and tequila showed significant growth. Overall distilled spirit consumption has increased from the beginning of the pandemic, as bars and restaurants re-open from lockdown measures.
  • U.S. wheat exports to the EU were down compared to 2020 due to the drought that limited U.S. durum production; high prices; and uncertainty of tariffs related to the Large Civilian Aircraft case at the beginning of 2021.
  • Several longstanding trade issues arising from the EU’s imposition of regulatory restrictions and non-tariff barriers remain and affect the ability of U.S. agricultural producers to access EU markets.

European Union’s Agricultural Suppliers

Stacked column chart showing global agricultural suppliers to the EU in 2021.  The top suppliers were the U.S., Brazil, and the United Kingdom.

Looking Ahead

The United States will continue to engage the EU on a range of issues that affect U.S. agricultural exports, including on technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and other issues affecting market access. Notably, the EU has stated that it is undertaking a multiyear process to transform its agricultural and food sector under the European Green Deal through its Farm to Fork Strategy, Fit for 55, EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, and related initiatives. A number of ongoing and upcoming regulatory and legislative efforts under these initiatives may have an impact on U.S. exports, including changes to animal health certificates, the phase out of the use of certain veterinary drugs, food labeling and packaging requirements, regulation of innovative biotechnology products, changes to pesticide MRLs, and sustainability criteria for renewable energy and deforestation-free supply chains.

Beginning February 27, 2022, U.S. exports of live, frozen, chilled, and processed bivalve molluscan shellfish intended for human consumption to the EU resumed, following the conclusion of negotiations between the United States and EU. Trade in shellfish between the United States and the EU had been blocked in both directions since 2011.

<< Return to Full Yearbook