Portugal food exports do well under Covid-19
Portuguese export have fallen off a cliff this year with the exception of agricultural produce.
In February, the Portuguese Minister for Agriculture, Maria do Céu Antunes, made the controversial statement that the Covid-19 pandemic could actually have a positive impact for Portuguese food product exports to Asian markets.
Eight months on, the export figures of foodstuffs have been published and the minister’s prediction was right. The agricultural products and foodstuff exports sector was the only sector to have improved its numbers on 2019 in Portugal.
And while the technology sector has been benefiting from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, in terms of export growth, the Portuguese foodstuff sector has also been making gains, exporting more than last year according to the National Statistics Institute figures for January to August.
“In 2020, in the accumulated period of January to August, goods exports tumbled -14.1% on the same period in 2019 (€-5.6Bn), affecting all product groups with the exception of foodstuffs and agricultural products which increased €119 million,” explains the economist Walter Anatole Marques in a study released by the Ministry of the Economy’s Office of Strategy and Studies.
In fact, food exports grew an accumulated 2.5% to August this year.
Yet despite agricultural foodstuff exports being the only Portuguese exports sector to grow in 2020 the relationship between cause and efface and why is unclear. In other words, it was not the pandemic which led to the increase in foodstuff sales overseas.
By analysing the food exports in detail, which represent around 14% of total exports of goods, it can be seen that products such as fruit: melons and citrus, and livestock were the goods that most contributed to the performance of agricultural foodstuffs exports.
Nevertheless, nearly all types of agricultural products — in particular meats and edible offal, as well as wines, are being exported more, with the exception of fish which has seen a fall on 2019.
Companies with a presence in Japan, South Korea, Ireland and Israel are all managing to export more this year than last year to these countries.
The Ministry of Agriculture has released more information about this strong performance. “If we analyse agriculture alone, the growth is even greater. From January to August, when compared to the same period in 2019, exports leapt by 7.1%”.
And when comparing August 2020 with August 2019, the increase is in double digits to 24.6%