Hungry? Thirsty? Europe's tasty, iconic exports

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Europe has an enviable reputation for the range of food and drink grown and made within its borders: French Champagne, Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Greek extra virgin olive oil and Spanish Iberico ham, to name but a few.

Whatever your choice of delicacy, when it comes to food, Europe excels, producing products that are exported around the world.

Read on as CNBC takes you on a grand tour of Europe's tasty—and in many cases lucrative—produce.

—By CNBC's Anmar Frangoul on Tuesday March 31, 2015.


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"The European Union (EU) is the world's leading producer, consumer, exporter and importer of wine," states the Comite Europeen des Entreprises Vins, Europe's wine authority, on its website.

The EU produces around 17.5 billion liters of wine a year, according to the European Commission's Directorate-General of Agriculture and Rural Development. It says that 65 percent of global production and 70 percent of global exports come from the region.


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From strong English cheddar to creamy French Brie, Europe is famed for the wide variety of its quality cheeses. France alone is reported to have up to 400 different types of cheese.

The EU produced an estimated 158.8 million tons of milk in 2013 and 9.3 million tons of cheese, according to the European Commission's Eurostat statistical information body.


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Europe is home to more than 5,000 breweries, which generate two million jobs "from grain to grass," according to The Brewers of Europe, a Brussels-based group that represents 29 national brewers' associations from across the region.

Europe has brewed beer for thousands of years, and today, drinkers there are spoiled for choice, with Czech Pilsners, fruit-flavored Belgian beers and strong Irish stout all on offer.

In 2013, internal and external exports of beer across the EU amounted to 7.6 million liters, according to The Brewers of Europe.

Beer is lucrative, too. A 2013 joint study by Regioplan Policy and EY found that the production and sale of beer generated 53 billion euros ($56 billion) in revenue for EU governments.

Olive oil

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With olive groves dotted across the continent's warmer countries, the EU is the world's biggest producer—and consumer—of olive oil, according to the European Commission's Directorate-General of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The EU produced 14 million tons of olives to make olive oil in 2013, with 62.7 percent of the olives coming from Spain, according to Eurostat. Italy was the second-largest producer, followed by Greece and Portugal.


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The apple tree is the most common fruit tree in Europe, with orchards covering 450,000 hectares of land, according to Eurostat. In 2012, the most common variety of apple in Europe was Golden Delicious.

When it comes to apples, Poland is Europe's powerhouse. In 2013, the country became the biggest producer of apples in the EU, with its more than three million tons of apples accounting for 25.6 percent of the region's total production.


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From Spain's world-famous jamon iberico to the Melton Mowbray pies of England, Europe is home to a vast variety of pork products.

The EU is the world's biggest exporter of pig meat, according to the European Commission, and with around 23 million tons of "carcass weight" produced yearly, the region is second only to China in terms of production.

Twelve percent of total EU production is exported, with China and Russia the main destinations, says the European Commission.


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They might be tiny, but humble bees pack an economic punch, with the European Commission describing them as, "critically important for the environment and economy."

It estimates that "pollinators"—a category which include wild bees, honey bees and bumblebees—contribute at least 22 billion euros a year to European agriculture, producing not just honey, but pollen, royal jelly and wax for food processing.

Spirits and liqueurs

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One of the EU's biggest money-spinners is its spirits and liqueurs industry. In 2013, spirits and liqueurs—a category that includes everything from Scotch whisky to gin and vodka—made up seven percent of total EU agricultural exports, according to the European Commission.

The export value of the drinks was 1.6 percent lower in 2013 than in 2012, but still amounted to some 10 billion euros.