Food and Drink

Food economics make up an integral part of the Austrian economy. Austrian groceries enjoy great popularity all over the world. The reason: Top quality resources and a traditional as well as sustainable handling of food in the entire product range!

Austrian groceries enjoy great popularity all over the world. The reason: Top quality resources and a traditional as well as sustainable handling of food in the entire product range! Combined with the innovative manufacturing processes, the quality focus of the domestic foodstuff industry provides the basis for the remarkably good reputation of Austrian groceries all over the world.

Value-added chain: Food

Food economics constitute an integral part of the Austrian economy and contributes to the GDP (gross domestic product) with a whopping 12 percent. The wide array of economic activities in and along the value-added chain food reaches from A like agricultural foreign trade to Z like zucchini industry.

The major activity fields include agricultural establishments in the manufacturing sector, enterprises in the food-processing sector (dairy farms, millers, slaughterhouses, etc), as well as companies in the food trade (wholesalers, retail salers, and specialized dealers). As well companies in the “external catering“ segment (gastronomy), and hence the Austrian tourism are part of the widely varied value-added chain. Approx. one out of six Austrians works in the economic sector foods; the foodstuff sector itself counts approx. 27,000 employees. Being one of the largest sectors in the Austrian economy, the foodstuff industry comprises of over 30 sub- and related sectors. Measured by the sales volume, the brewing industry and non-alcoholic beverage industry turn out to be the most significant segments. But also the meat products, sweets, and fruit juice industry can be counted to the top-selling segments in this sector.

Due to the global economic crisis, the foodstuff industries all over the world faltered in 2008, however, the Austrian food industry has not only overcome this crisis and could maintain its stability – the food and beverage industry is experiencing a boom: Worldwide! According to latest results, the leading position in this sector is taken by the product groups “milk and dairy products” and the export bestseller “cheese”. In a state comparison conducted for these product groups, Upper Austria turned out as leader in the cheese production, followed by Styrian and Salzburg. When it comes to the segment of butter and fresh milk, the states Lower Austria and Burgenland are clearly on top. Together the duo accounts for a production share of almost 50 percent in the segment “fresh milk and butter”.

World leader in the field of organic farming

With an impressive number of 21,000 organic farms in 2009 and a share of 18.5 percent of organic cultivation area (Eurostat 2011) in the entire agricultural area, Austria turns out to be the unchallenged No.1 worldwide! On European level, Sweden (12.8 percent), Estonia (11.0 percent), and the Czech Republic (10.6 percent) are as well operating in the two-digit percent range – in fact, the estimated EU27-average is merely at 4.7 percent with respect to the organic cultivation area, measured by those agricultural areas that are utilized to their full extent. The number of organic farms is growing continuously, the domestic market for organic food grew up to EUR 984 million in 2009, which indicates an increase of 6.4 percent compared to the previous year.

Record-breaking figures in food export 

The food sector´s foreign trade accounted for approx. 8 percent of the total foreign trade volume of the Austrian economy in 2010. All in all, Austria exported goods in the amount of nearly EUR 8 billion (EUR 7.7 billion; Statistik Austria), while the European Union turned out to be the most important trade partner. Germany is still the largest buyer of Austrian foodstuff. The second position of the export destinations is taken by the southern neighbor Italy, followed by Hungary. Especially the markets of the “new” EU countries, such as Slovenia and the Czech Republic show a considerable increase in exports. However, the demand for Austrian quality reaches also beyond European borders. A strong increase in turnover is observed on the overseas market with the USA representing the largest importer of Austrian foodstuff. The most important sales pillars in the US-market include energy drinks, wine, chocolate, and cheese.

Recent events like the disaster in Japan or the „dioxin scandal“ in Germany caused quite a stir among consumers. This calls even more for the “red-white-red” quality, since consumers rely on safety in the choice and purchase of foods, which is ensured by the Austrian quality guarantee! Current figures of 2011 indicate that the foodstuff and beverage industry is about to fly high with respect to the export trade. The basis for the global competitive advantage and international export success is provided by the unique positive image of Austria, the accuracy when it comes to food safety, a high technical standard, and the excellent quality of resources. Innovations in the food production combined with consciousness of tradition in the handling of foods will enable Austria to keep on mastering the „challenge“ of high-quality foodstuff and beverages in a global sector that becomes more and more distinguished.

(Sources of figures: Statistik Austria; Lebensmittelbericht 2010; Grüner Bericht 2010, AMA Pressemitteilung 2011)

Editorial department: Mag. Sandra Hollersbacher