Last year Romania exported over 15 million tons of farm and food products.
According to the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, last year Romania exported over 15 million tons of farm and food products, whose total value stood at 5.73 billion euros. As compared to the year 2014, this accounted for a 4.6% increase in terms of amount and a 6% increase in terms of value.
However Romania reported a deficit in its foreign trade with farm and food products, after two years of surplus. In 2015 food imports stood at 8.5 million tons with a value of 5.82 billion euros, exceeding the 6 million tons imported in 2014 by roughly 2.4 million euros. So, Romania’s trade deficit in this sector amounted to 89 million euros. Corn was the product that generated the largest share of the revenues in exports to EU and non-EU countries, namely 960 million euros for 5.1 million tons exported, followed by cigars and other tobacco products with 917.5 million euros. Wheat came third in terms of revenues, with 692.5 million euros for 3.55 million tons, while sunflower and rapeseeds brought Romania 452.2 million euros, 300.8 million euros in 2015.
On the other hand, Romania imported a record-high amount of pork, 189 thousand tons, worth 295.7 million euro. Romania’s main trade partner in terms of farm and food products last year was the EU, which accounted for 65% of its exports, while imports from the bloc stood at 81%. In the following minutes, Emil Dumitru, chair of Prod Agro Federation will be speaking about the issues this sector is struggling with at the moment.
Emil Dumitru: “Operators in Romania’s food and farming industry have made significant efforts to acquire the latest technology, so that the products processed in our plants may meet the highest standards of quality and get approved by the veterinary authorities. And if there is information about any unfair competition or about low-quality products coming from EU or non-EU countries, the National Veterinary and Food Safety Authority (ANSVSA) together with the Department for Technical Inspection and Control with the Agriculture Ministry should check all these supposedly low quality products and establish the importers and the products that do not comply with these standards. But we should not generalize, because this will confuse consumers and they will not be able to make the right choice when shopping. I can tell you that in terms of quality Romania fares very well, with excellent traceability when it comes to processed dairy and meat products. However, because of the crisis, there are some opportunistic companies coming up with products that aren’t up to quality standards and must be withdrawn from the market.”
The chair of Prod Agro Federation also said in certain cases prices are calculated in a questionable manner:
Emil Dumitru: “We don’t understand the manner and the mechanism for how prices are being calculated. For instance, we export poultry meat at a certain price per ton, based on our production costs, and what we import from the EU comes at half that price. So we are questioning the quality of these products, but the only ones in a position to clarify that are the public authorities in charge with regulating and checking these products. This is just a warning signal.”
Romanian producers also face problems while dealing with hypermarkets:
Emil Dumitru: ”Hypermarkets have market dominance and have managed to impose various fees and charges that are applied to domestic producers. And considering that 50% of farm and food products is being sold through these chains, rules are necessary in order to ensure proper balance in the market. Hypermarkets’ negotiating power is way too big compared to that of local producers, and negotiation must be mainly based on the principle of fairly dividing profit so that everybody, from producers of raw materials, to processors or sellers, get fair shares of the profit; now it’s the selling hypermarkets that are getting the lion’s share, whereas producers often incur losses.”
In mid-March the ‘Ibanesti Cheese’ became the first Romanian product included in the European list of products with protected designation of origin. This product is a special type of salty cheese produced only in the Gurghiu region, in Mures County, central Romania. In February, Romania managed to have the Sibiu Salami listed as a product with protected geographical indication, this being the second Romanian product on the PGI list after the Topoloveni plum jam, which has been on the list since 2011.