This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/25/2019


Agriculture plays an integral and unique role in Romania’s economy.  Nearly one quarter (23%) of Romanians are employed in agricultural-related activities, compared to the 4.9% EU member average. Romania is consolidating its position in the European Union in terms of grains and oilseeds production.  Romania’s share in total EU planted area rose to 9% in 2018 while the share in the EU’s harvested production stagnated at about 5% due to low yields.  In 2018, total grain production rose by 6%, supported by favorable weather conditions over the course of development.  As a result, grain exports are estimated to grow by 14%, mainly due to wheat and corn crops.

The numerous fiscal measures adopted by the Romanian Government were reflected in an increase in disposable income at the consumer level.  This further translated into higher consumer demand, so food retail sales rose by 6.5% in 2018 versus 2017. As the domestic food industry was not able to cope with the higher demand in the short term, foreign suppliers covered the gap between demand and supply.  As a result, in 2018, food imports increased by 7.6% and exports by 5%, so the trade deficit in agriculture grew by 26% (Table 1). 

Table 1 – Total Agricultural trade - Romania (2013-2018)
$ million 201320142015201620172018
Agricultural Imports 6,1976,1616,5796,7976,7067,512
Agricultural Exports 7,0427,3766,5686,8257,2937,641
Agricultural Trade Deficit/Surplus-615-967463575-132-687
      Source: Global Trade Atlas

EU member states are the major source and destination for local agri-food products.  In general, around 80% of imported agricultural goods originate from the EU.  Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Bulgaria were Romania’s major trading partners in 2018.  Romanian exports to the EU account for about 70% of total agri-food exports.  Meat, edible fruits, protein meals, and dairy were the major food-product import categories in 2018, while exports consisted of grains, oilseeds, live animals, and fats.

In 2018, U.S. agri-food exports to Romania continued their upwards trend, reaching a new peak.  They grew from $149 million in 2017 to nearly $182 million the following year (22% growth), which is a record for the past seven years (Table 2).  U.S. goods flow either directly into Romania - mainly bulk and intermediate (direct exports) - or are transshipped through the main EU trade gates, such as the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom (indirect exports).  In 2018, U.S. agri-food direct exports expanded by 37% over 2017, while indirect exports rose by 4%.  The main U.S. commodities exported to Romania in 2018 consisted of protein meals, food preparations, spirits, fruits and nuts, and seafood.

Table 2: Total Romanian Food and Ag Imports from the United States (2014-18)
$ Million20142015201620172018
Direct Exports60.193.464.182.61113.21
Indirect Exports35.74657.465.9568.33
Sources: Global Trade Atlas; National Institute of Statistics

Leading Sub-Sectors

Tree Nuts
The United States is among Romania’s largest tree nuts suppliers and accounts for 21% in terms of value and 15% in terms of volume.  U.S. tree nut exports to Romania grew from $5.2 million in 2014 to $9.7 million in 2017, but they fell by 5% in 2018 (Table 3).  The 3% increase in walnut exports could not entirely offset the drop of 5% in almonds, which have a larger share.  Conversely, volumes rose by 5% in 2018, largely due to walnuts.  This is the highest nut volume exported to Romania from United States in the past five years (1,350 MT).  In 2018, U.S. shipments accounted for nearly 60% of almond imports and 11% of walnut imports.

Table 3 – Tree Nuts imports, Romania, 2014-2018
      $ Million20142015201620172018
Total tree nuts imports from world42.237.728.039.542.7
of which almonds6.
of which walnuts25.618.15.615.415.6
Total tree nuts imports from the United States5.
of which almonds3.
of which walnuts1.
Source: Global Trade Atlas; National Institute of Statistics

Distilled Spirits
Consumer demand for beverages expanded again in 2018.  Romanian consumers remain prone to brands from the mainstream segment, which cover about 80% of the market.  Imports account for about a fifth of the market in value terms (Table 4).  According to 2018 import data, whiskey is the major category accounting for half of the market, followed by liqueurs with 30% and vodka with 9%.  Total Romanian imports of spirits declined by 7% in volume but expanded by 14% in value in 2018.  This development may be attributed on one hand to the uptrading tendency - that is, consumer migration from brands within the economic segment to premium and super-premium brands as a result of a higher disposable income.  The United States is a significant whiskey supplier to Romania with a share of 14% in 2018. 

Table 4 – Distilled imports, Romania, 2014-2018
$ Million 20142015201620172018
Total Distilled spirits from world72.666.986.7110.3125.8
Of which from the United States13.111.414.017.417.7
Sources: Global Trade Atlas; National Institute of Statistics

Fish and seafood
In Romania, the pace of fishery sector development is slow, so imports continue to cover a large share (70-80%) of consumption.  The limited range of local valuable species and poor processing opportunities stimulate imports.  In 2018, fish and seafood imports increased by 15% in value and by 4% in volume compared to the previous year (Table 5).  U.S. fish and seafood exports to Romania reached $2.2 million in 2018, a 7% increase compared to 2017.  In terms of species of U.S. origin, Pacific salmon accounts for a share of 25%, followed by livers and roes (28%), mackerel (10%), lobsters (8%), carp (4%), and hake (3%).

Table 5 – Frozen Fish Imports, Romania, 2014-2018
$ Million 20142015201620172018
Total Frozen Fish from world6859637083.5
Of which from the United States1.
Sources: Global Trade Atlas; National Institute of Statistics

Soybeans remain a minor crop in Romania, despite the generous coupled-support programs allocated by the European Union.  Domestic soybean production covers only a third of the livestock demand.  Nearly 90% of imported soybeans and soybean meal originates from soybean producers in South America and the United States.  In 2018, soybean imports rose by 83%, reaching $110 million (Table 6).  The share of the United States in total soybean imports increased from 11% in 2017 to 40% in 2018 This increase was in response to the restrictive trade regime adopted by China, which made U.S. soybeans more competitive compared to South American ones.

Table 6 – Soybeans imports, Romania, 2014-2018
$ Million 20142015201620172018
Total Soybeans from world56.572.058.360.1110.2
Of which from the United States2.527.36.16.944.7
Sources: Global Trade Atlas; National Institute of Statistic
Opportunities for additional U.S. exports:
  •  Beef
  •  Sweet Potatoes
  •  Fruit and vegetable juices
  •  Sauces
  •  Wines
  •  Pet food

Web Resources (GAIN reports)

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More Information

Romania Agribusiness Trade Development and Promotion