Germany's 82 million inhabitants make the food and beverage market the largest in Europe. The sector ranks fouth among the local producing industries and has a workforce of over 550,000 in the almost 6,000 predominantly small and medium sized enterprises.
Germany's main trading partners in the food and beverage industry are other EU countries followed by Russia, the United States and Switzerland. Even though part of the local demand is satisfied with domestically produced goods, the country is a net importer in major groups of food and drink products. In the past ten years, food imports have steadily increased, thus underlying the rising demand for foreign as well as exotic foods.