Country Profile

Belgium Country Profile

Discover more about the Belgian market including overviews about the retail, food service, and food processing sectors. Events, resources, and more are linked throughout the profile.

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Market Overview

Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) Fund

$716.7 Million
total U.S. exports of agricultural products to Belgium in 2021

Branded Program Success

of U.S. exports to Belgium were consumer-oriented products

Market Access Program (MAP) Funding

$192.3 Million
total agricultural exports to Belgium in 2022

As part of the Benelux region, Belgium is considered one of the key trading hubs to the European Union. Especially after Brexit and with the global shipping crisis and reduced port capacities, the importance of the EU’s second largest container port in Antwerp has increased massively. However, with an annual GDP of close to US$600 billion and 11.7 million potential consumers, the market is also an interesting direct target for American traders.

The U.S. is the fifth largest exporter to Belgium and the number one non-EU trading partner. Total agricultural exports to Belgium accounted for US$959.79 million in 2022, which equals a compound average growth of 2.5%. The top products shipped to the market were tree nuts, with a value of US$254.31 million, followed by forest products, milled grains, tobacco, and fish or seafood. This represents an increase compared to 2020, when such goods shipped directly to Belgium from the United States were valued at US$744 million. While consumption in the country has increased, the majority of imports were transshipped to other EU markets. Belgium harbors, especially Antwerp, benefitted from Brexit and shifting trade flows resulted in increased landings from overseas suppliers. The constellation of a strong domestic consumption market and high average buying power and the well-established and still growing trade network across the continent make Belgium an attractive target market for American producers.

Advantages and Challenges for U.S. Food Exporters in Belgium

Post adds that like all vital U.S. agricultural export markets, Belgium comes with its own unique opportunities and challenges.


  • Market heavily relies on imports, resulting in open-minded consumers and an eating culture based on international food trends.
  • Solid economy and flourishing retail and HRI landscape.
  • Traders in Belgium often maintain affiliates in other EU markets, making the country a perfect starting point to target all of Europe.
  • Good relations with the United States as trading partner and positive image of products “Made in the USA.”
  • Growing demand for sustainable products produced in the U.S.
  • Organic is a continuously growing market category offering opportunities for international producers.


  • Low retail pricing level for food makes it difficult for foreign non-EU producers to compete.
  • Other countries might benefit from trade agreements with the European Union when shipping to Belgium.
  • Market is very mature and competitive, making it challenging for American exporters to find a promising sale channel.
  • European regulations restricting use of certain GMOs, food colorings, additives, or aromas can negatively affect processed goods from the U.S.

“All of Food Export's programs were a tremendous help getting us export ready, understanding the challenges that come with international business, and learning how to navigate them.”

Katz Gluten Free

Food Export-Northeast Participant since 2018

Interested in importing from U.S. suppliers?
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Retail Sector

Over $100k in New Export Sales

$18.8 Billion
estimated retail sales in the packaged food market in Belgium for 2022

Over 20% Increase in Sales

growth rate of the retail sales since 2018

First-Time Export Sale

$21.5 Billion
projected retail sales for the packaged food market in Belgium by 2026

The average annual revenue of the Belgian food retail sector amounts to US$32 billion. According to Nielsen, increase of the turnover is due to the good health of the Belgian economy and the increasing inflation rate (2.13 percent). In terms of market share, large supermarkets represent 49.5 percent of annual revenue of the Belgian food retail sector, medium-sized supermarkets represent 30.4 percent, small retailers/convenience stores represent 4.7 percent, and hard discounters represent 15.4 percent.

The number of medium-sized and neighborhood supermarkets has been growing over the years to answer the need of Belgian consumers to have grocery stores closer to their homes. While the number of hard discount stores increased sharply over the beginning of 2000, their growth rate has slowed down since 2010. Discount supermarkets are not as popular in Belgium as in other EU countries as Belgians see higher prices as indicative of quality.

The Belgian retail market is consolidated. Eight different international groups dominate the Belgian retail – market – Ahold Delhaize Group, Carrefour Group, Colruyt Group, Louis Delhaize Group, Lidl, Aldi, Intermarché, MetroGroup – and represent 92.1 percent of the market share.

Top product prospects include: beef, food preparations, wine, mixed nuts, prepared foods, dog and cat food, and non-alcoholic beverages.

Food Service Sector

A large contributor to the foodservice market is the approximately 58,000 hotel-restaurant-café (HORECA) establishments. If other foodservice outlets locations/activities are included (e.g., food trucks, etc.), the total number of outlets is nearly 80,000. In Belgium, there are 4.4 HORECA businesses for every 1,000 inhabitants, compared to the value of 3.3 and 2.8, respectively in the Netherlands and Germany.

Top product prospects include: beef, food preparations, wine, nuts, and sweet potatoes.

Food Processing Sector

Belgium’s food process industry employees 91,000 employees (with another 141,000 indirect employees) and generates a turnover of US$64.7 billion. Most of this profit (US$30.44 billion) is from exports, which are mainly sent to neighboring EU countries. The most valued export products were beer and chocolate, but dairy products as well as frozen vegetables were also very popular.

Despite the economic growth, the Belgium food sector is facing additional financial hurdles compared to other Member States in the EU. The most challenging issues are the substantial increases in the costs of both labor and energy over the last couple of years, as electricity is about 45 percent more expensive than in other Member States.

Top product prospects include: pistachios, nut mixes, almonds, walnuts, sweet potatoes, and ingredients that go into Belgium’s exported products such as beer, chocolate, dairy products, and frozen vegetables.