Seed World

Global Seed Exports and Imports: Comparisons Between 2015 and 2020

Each year, the International Seed Federation (ISF) releases its seed statistics that detail the seed exports and imports gathered through internal surveys, international trade reports and knowledge gleaned during visits to various countries. In August 2022, ISF shared its report from 2020.

The report reveals that some of the ‘usual suspects’ — the Netherlands, United States, France and Denmark — remain in the top five or so for export quantity, import quantity, export value and import value when compared to ISF’s report from 2015. France held its spot in the top two for export quantity, export value and import value with 820.819 metric tons, USD 2.293 million and USD 1.156 million respectively.

Other countries have made significant jumps, either climbing up in rank, or dropping lower on the lists. For example, Slovakia ranked second in export quantity in 2015, yet in the 2020 report, the country dropped down to ninth place. Hungary was listed sixth on the list in 2015 but has now altogether disappeared from the top 10 for export quantity.

When dissecting export value, the report found that the Netherlands surpassed France and the U.S., which ranked first and second respectively in 2015. Canada, which came in seventh in 2015, is no longer ranked in the top 10. South American countries Chile and Argentina are also absent from the list, while both countries held spots in 2015. The top 10 for export value is now monopolized by the EU and U.S., according to 2020’s recordings.

Additional changes to note include Belgium’s increase in seed import quantity, moving from eighth place in 2015 with 159.164 metric tons to first place in 2020 with 1.427.438 metric tons. As a result, Belgium’s import and export values increased in 2020, putting the country in seventh place for import value.

While Denmark does not make an appearance in the top 10 of import stats, the country is making great strides in export quantity and value. In 2015, Denmark exported a total of 130.174 metric tons and had an export value of USD 286 million. In the 2020 report, it exported 351.302 metric tons and possessed an export value of USD 829 million — exhibiting a significant increase. These results indicate that Denmark is producing a lot of sowing seed on its own soil that is of high value.

Evolution of international seed trade. Source, ISF

The effects of Brexit are also apparent when comparing the statistics from 2015 to 2020. In 2015, the UK appeared in several spots throughout the top 10 — number nine for export quantity, number seven for import quantity and number nine for import value — yet in 2020, the only appearance the country made was for import quantity.

The 2020 seed trade values have been impacted by the COVID-19 trade restrictions, so many of the changes in position can be attributed to the pandemic. 

For more information and statistics from ISF, visit