Tomatoes and cucumbers were the star products and the point of strength of Albania’s agro-food exports in 2015, totaling 21 million Euro or 3 billion ALL in sales, reported the Ministry of Agriculture.

With over 57.000 tons earmarked for export in 2015 compared to 34.000 in 2014, Albanian tomatoes continue to increase their role as the Ambassador of Made in Albania products and of the excellence of quality around the world.

According to the figures published by the Ministry of Agriculture, exports increased by 30% in 2015, in annual terms. Compared to agricultural products exported in 2014, exports in 2015 rose by 4 billion ALL. Exports of livestock products increased by 31% while exports of processed agricultural products increased by 15% during 2015. The statistics show that the agriculture sector has contributed in the Albanian economy by 4 billion ALL during 2015, declared the Minister Panariti at a press conference.

Agriculture exports continued to perform positively even in the first months of this year. During the January – March period, agriculture exports increased by 23.5% compared to the same period of a year before. In the first quarter of 2016, agriculture exports are estimated to be ALL, while exports of livestock products increased by 75%.

This stands to prove that European consumers opt for quality also during a period of crisis. While all exports fell 7.8 percent in 2015 agriculture outperformed herself. In 2015 the amount of exports reached the value of ALL 4.4 billion, about twice more than last year ALL 2.9 billion in 2014.

The vegetables have given an impetus to the export figures, almost doubling in value against other products. Thus, the last year’s export of vegetables accounted for about ALL 4 billion compared to ALL 2.1 billion in 2014.

To follow the growth trend the Albanian agricultural exports to foreign markets grew significantly in the first two months of 2016, compared to a year ago, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Management. "During the two first months 2016, exports of vegetable from the Lushnje region reached 5,739 tons," the Minister of Agriculture, Edmond Panariti said, noting that for the same period in 2015 exports stood at 2,711 tons, marking a 110 percent increase. High records are not registered only in Lushnja.

Agriculture and agro-industry are sectors that not only bring a significant contribution to the GDP of Albania, but are also considered as major sectors with great employment potential. In 2015, agricultural and livestock production increased by 2.9% compared with 2014 while vegetables showed that production rose 8%, the production of fruit trees with 11.4%, and 43% of citrus .

"The volume of trade in agricultural and food sector for the 9 month period of 2015 has been about 83 billion, with an increase of 6.5% compared with the same period of 2014. The ratio export/import improved to 1: 5 from 1 6 that was in 2014", said the minister of Agriculture, Edmond Panariti. During the period 2005-2014, Albanian agro-food exports have been increasing significantly – on average 14% per year – reaching EUR 128.9 million in 2014. Imports on the other hand have been increasing on average by 8% per year.

The export to import ratio has improved from 11.2% in 2005 to 17.9% in 2014, since exports increased more than imports for the given period. The main partners of agrifood export are EU members, mainly Italy, Greece and Germany. However international trade partners are changing, mainly due to geopolitical attitudes of EU members toward Russia and the Russian embargo as well, also new market linkage with other countries. In this context, fresh vegetables sector is undergoing also a rapid change.

Serbia has maintained its domination since 2014, purchasing 61% of Albanian agricultural exports. Macedonia has been the second largest destination in 2006, but over years has decreased its share to 4 % in 2014. In 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro made up the second and third market for Albanian export, respectively by 20% and 11%. And chances are more and more EU countries will be looking forward to import Albanian products that meet the EU standards by having the required certification.

Germany, Italy, Netherland, France are all in line to buy our fresh produce, from tomatoes to pepper and cucumbers, by giving the agriculture sector the real meaning of being the star of the exports.