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Overview of the Austrian Food Processing Sector

12 May 2009

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

The Austrian food processing industry plays a major role in Austria’s economy, according to a report from the USDA Foreign Agricul;tural Service.

The food processing industry serves a market of 8.2 million people and represents the fifth largest industrial sector within all of Austria’s industrial processing output.

The total turnover in 2008 was $11.1 billion compared to $7.2 billion in 1995.


According to statistics published by the Lebensministerium, the most important sectors of the Austrian food processing industry measured by their output are the brewing sector 14 per cent, confectionary industry 11.1 per cent, non-alcoholic beverages 10 per cent, and meat production 9.4 per cent.

Although a small country, Austria has one of the highest standards of living in Europe and the affluent customers demand high quality products. US exporters will find export opportunities for dried fruits and nuts, rising demand for seafood, specialty meats, certain wellness and/or organic products, pet food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The Austrian economy has consistently performed better than the EU average. Growth will be weaker in 2009, but is still expected to be close to economic potential. The country's heavy dependence on the automobile industry and its exposure to markets in Central and Eastern Europe are major risks. The government expects private consumption to grow by just 1.8 per cent in 2009. The Eastern enlargement of the EU should boost growth rates over the next 10 years.

Imports by the food processing sector have been growing and reached $4.8.billion in 2007. In 2008, Austria’s agriculture, fish and forestry imports worldwide amounted to $15.2 billion. Imports from the United States of America totaled $113 million in 2008, not including significant and steadily increasing transshipments from other EU countries.

In times of world wide weakening economies, a 0.74 per cent increase of imports from the previous year shows again that Austria belongs to one of the richest countries in the EU. There will always be a reliable market for US products.

1995 was a very critical year for the Austrian food processing industry. Austria joined the EU as a full member and the entire food processing and drinks industry underwent a major restructuring and reconsolidation process. The number of food processing companies went from 346 in 1995 to 222 in 2008. The number of employees decreased from 35,000 in 1995 to 27,000 in 2008.

In 2008 Austria’s food processing industry exported €4.6 billion which represents a 5.5 per cent increase over 2007 exports. In the context of the total agricultural production the exports by the food processing industry represent 56.6 per cent of the total.

In order to assist the industry during the reconstruction period the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture started in cooperation with the food processing industry and the retail sector various promotional initiatives. These initiatives emphasize the local origins and uniqueness of local ingredients used. Special labels and trademarks were created to enforce regionalism and traceability of processed products.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

May 2009

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