Agricultural production - crops
Data extracted in November 2020.
Planned article update: January 2022.
Production of main cereals, EU-27, 2009-2019
Editorial note: Throughout this article, which deals with time periods when the United Kingdom was a Member State of the European Union, the acronym EU, however, refers to EU-27, the post-Brexit composition of the European Union as of 1 February 2020.
Crops can be broadly categorised into two groups, those that are annual and those that are perennial. Annual crops are those that do not last more than two growing seasons and typically only one. Perennial crops last for more than two growing seasons, either dying back after each season or growing continuously; these are also termed permanent crops. Annual crops can either be sown in the autumn and be winter hardy (so-called winter crops) to be harvested the following year or in the spring and summer of the following year to be harvested that year. In the EU, rapeseed, wheat, rye and triticale are typically winter crops, whereas maize, sunflowers, rice, soybeans, potatoes, and sugar beet are summer crops. Barley is common in both its winter and spring varieties.
Crop production is particularly sensitive to prevailing weather and climatic conditions at key times of the growing season. For example, depending on a plant’s stage of development, heavy spring frosts can damage the growth of cereals and destroy fruit blossoms. Likewise, spring-to-summer droughts and heat waves can cause significant yield losses, while strong winds and heavy rainfall can make harvesting difficult and compromise quality.
Meteorological and hydrological conditions therefore play an important role in both the levels and quality of crop production but they also have a knock-on effect on prices through the causal effect of supply and demand. It is for this reason that production levels and prices are brought together in this article. Of course, with the EU covering such a large area and including such diverse climates, the impacts of adverse weather conditions and extremes on production levels in one region may be offset by optimum conditions in another. However, where the production of certain crops is concentrated in a few regions, EU production levels will be particularly susceptible to weather conditions as well as to pest attacks.
The statistics on crop production in this article are shown at an aggregated level and have been selected from over 100 different crop products for which official statistics are collected.
Historically warm summer across much of the EU in 2019
Plants need sunlight, water, healthy soils, air and heat to grow. Among the meteorological factors, temperature and precipitation are of particular significance for yields and production levels. The 2019 crop year in the EU experienced extreme weather events in terms of both temperatures and rainfall .
Autumn 2018: the very dry autumn across large parts of Europe complicated field preparations for sowing winter crops and then limited plant emergence and early crop development. The regions most affected were the northern half of France and Germany, north-western Poland, Czechia, eastern Slovakia and eastern Hungary, western and southern Romania, and western Bulgaria. Both the sowing and emergence of rapeseed, for which the optimal sowing window closes in September, were most impacted, resulting in smaller areas sown than originally planned and uneven stands of crops after emergence, part of which was replaced with spring or summer crops. In France, north-western Germany and southern Romania, weather conditions improved in late autumn but extended well into November in the other most affected regions.
Winter 2018-2019: the winter was mild, without marked cold spells. However, large parts of southern Europe experienced precipitation deficit. The most distinct deficits were experienced in central, western and south-western parts of the Mediterranean region; although large parts of south-eastern and southern-central Europe were also affected. This aggravated the condition of crops that were already affected by the unfavourable autumnal weather conditions.
Spring 2019: the first half of spring brought favourable weather conditions to most parts of Europe, but continued precipitation deficits negatively affected winter crops in Spain and south-eastern Europe. This situation inverted in April, when there was well-above average rainfall in southern Europe (except the Iberian Peninsula). This replenished soil moisture reserves, with substantial benefits to winter crops and the early development of spring- and summer crops. Extremely wet conditions in north-eastern Italy and the western Balkan region caused serious delays to spring sowing activities. Meanwhile, large parts of northern-central Europe (in particular north-eastern Germany and northern Poland) experienced a marked rainfall deficit which started mid-March and got worse in April. By contrast, there was a wetter-than-usual April on the Iberian Peninsula, which was followed by the return of dry conditions in May, which then developed into a drought in southern regions.
After the mild winter had continued into early spring, the advanced winter crop development in most of Europe was then slowed down by a cold snap at the beginning of May.
These spells of warm-and-dry (April) and cold (May) weather also affected the emergence of spring and summer crops. In the most affected areas, seedlings did not develop properly, or were damaged by wind-blown dust from dry, sandy soils, or by pests to which weakened stands are more vulnerable. In northern Poland and north-eastern Germany this resulted in poor stands over large areas, particular regarding sugar beet. In contrast, abundant rainfall in Italy, and southern-central and eastern Europe improved water supplies, but, combined with cold weather, hampered summer crop growth in large parts of these regions.
Summer 2019: the summer was warmer than usual in all EU Member States, except Portugal and northern Finland. In central Europe, the 2019 summer was the warmest or second warmest on record. Most parts of Europe were affected by several heatwaves, starting in June, and record-high daily maximum temperatures (above 40 ⁰C) were recorded in northern France, the Benelux countries and north-western Germany (see Map 1).
Rainfall was below average in the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as in northern France, most of Germany, Poland, Czechia, Austria, and Italy.
The yield potential of winter crops was negatively impacted in regions that had already been affected by a dry spring (in particular Spain, Germany, Poland), but in other regions (such as France) the negative effects of the hot summer conditions on winter crops remained very limited. For summer crops (maize, sunflowers, sugar beet, potatoes), yield potentials were negatively impacted in all regions affected by water deficit. Very favourable weather conditions with above-average rainfall prevailed in south-eastern Europe during most of the summer, but also there, hot and dry conditions in August negatively impacted the end of the season.
The EU’s 2019 cereal harvest rebounded sharply from the drought-affected level in 2018
The harvested production of cereals (including rice) across the EU-27 was 299.3 million tonnes in 2019. This was 25.3 million tonnes more than the drought-affected level in 2018, the equivalent of a 9.2 % upswing. However, the harvested production of cereals remained below the record 308.2 million tonnes harvested in 2014 (see Figure 1).
France harvested 71.2 million tonnes of cereals in 2019, a little less than one quarter (23.8 %) of the EU-27’s total harvested production. Germany harvested 44.3 million tonnes (14.8 % of the EU total), Romania a further 30.4 million tonnes of cereals (10.2 % of the EU total) and Poland harvested 29.0 million tonnes (9.7 % of the EU total).
The rebound in the harvested production of cereals was prominent across central and northern Europe. Among the main cereal producing Member States, the harvested production of cereals was higher in France (+13.8 %), Germany (+16.7 %) and Poland (+8.3 %). The sharpest rates of rebound were in the Baltic and Scandinavian Member States as well as Cyprus. By contrast, harvested production in many southern European Member States was lower, including in Romania (-3.6 %) and in Spain (-18.6 %).
Higher harvests for most cereals
The EU-27 harvested 131.8 million tonnes of common wheat and spelt in 2019, the equivalent of 44.0 % of all cereal grains harvested (see Figure 2). This was 16.2 million tonnes more than in 2018, an increase of 14.0 %. The main reason for this upturn was the bounce back from the drought in 2018, although the cultivated area of common wheat and spelt was also higher (+3.7 %).
The harvested production of grain maize and corn-cob-mix for the EU-27 was 70.1 million tonnes in 2019, 1.1 million tonnes more than in 2018. Higher production levels in most Member States offset the relatively sharp decline (-6.6 %) in Romania, which remained the main producer of this cereal and accounted for one quarter of the EU’s harvested production.
In 2019, the EU’s harvested production of barley was 10.8 % higher than in 2018 at 55.6 million tonnes, despite little change (-0.1 %) in the area cultivated. The rebound from the drought-affected levels of 2018 was notable in many Member States including France (+22.8 %), and Germany (+21.0 %). The less favourable weather conditions on the Iberian Peninsula, however, resulted in a lower harvested production of barley in Spain (-18.9 %).
It was a similar scenario for rye and maslin, the harvested production of which across the EU was one third higher (+33.3 %) in 2019 than in 2018. This recovery was also underpinned by a strong expansion in the area cultivated; a further 273 000 hectares of rye and maslin were harvested in 2019 than in 2018, an increase of 13.4 %. Production levels rebounded in a number of key producer countries like Germany (+47.1 %), Poland (+12.2 %) and Denmark (+85.4 %).
By contrast, the harvested production of oats in 2019 was little changed from the level in 2018 (+0.4 %). The reduction in cultivated area (-6.9 %, or 177 000 hectares) was offset by higher yields in many Member States. Harvested production levels bounced back somewhat in Poland (+5.7 %), but strongly in Finland (+43.0 %) and Sweden (+84.6 %). Elsewhere, there were strong declines in harvested production, such as in Spain (-45.6 %) and Germany (-10.1 %).
Centre – Val de Loire and Picardie most important regions for wheat production, Castilla y Léon for barley
At more a detailed level, the EU regions with the largest harvested production of common wheat and spelt were the two French regions of Centre — Val de Loire (5.1 million tonnes in 2019) and Picardie (4.9 million tonnes). A number of other French regions — Champagne-Ardenne, Pays de la Loire, Poitou-Charentes, Nord-Pas de Calais and Haute-Normandie — were also among the EU regions with the highest levels of production in 2019. The harvested production of common wheat and spelt was also relatively high in Bayern (southern Germany), where 3.7 million tonnes were harvested (note that the statistics presented for Germany relate to NUTS level 1 regions).
The French region of Centre — Val de Loire was the region that harvested the most barley in 2019 (2.4 million tonnes). This was closely followed by the Spanish region of Castilla y Léon (2.3 million tonnes) and Champagne-Ardenne (2.2 million tonnes). Other key barley-producing areas were the German region of Bayern, renowned for its beer production (2.1 million tonnes), and the Spanish region of Castilla-la Mancha (1.9 million tonnes).
Prices for EU cereals lower in 2019
The average price of cereals in the EU for 2019 declined by a provisional 2.9 % in real (deflated) terms, in part reflecting the higher supply of cereals after the drought in 2018. Provisional prices for all the categories of cereal were lower; the sharpest rates of decrease were for rye and maslin (an EU-27 average of -7.4 % in real terms), barley (-6.3 %) and oats (-4.8 %), with more moderate falls for grain maize (-3.1 %), and wheat and spelt (-1.9 %).
Over the medium-term, there has been downward pressure on prices as a result of a series of successive and record global harvests. The average real-terms price of cereals has fallen back considerably from the relative highs recorded in 2012 for many Member States. Nevertheless, that downward trend stopped in 2017 and 2018 (see Figure 4).
Potatoes and sugar beet
Two main root crops are grown in the EU, namely sugar beet, grown on 1.5 million hectares across the EU-27 in 2019, and potatoes, grown on 1.6 million hectares. Other root crops like fodder beet, fodder kale, rutabaga, fodder carrot and turnips are specialist crops grown on a combined total of only an estimated 0.1 million hectares.
The EU is the world’s leading producer of sugar beet, accounting for about one half of global production. However, only 20 % of the world’s sugar production comes from sugar beet, the other 80% being produced from sugar cane .
The EU sugar market was regulated by production quotas until September 2017. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural development then established a Sugar Market Observatory in order to provide the EU sugar sector with more transparency by means of disseminating market data and short-term analysis in a timely manner.
Sugar beet production levelled out in 2019 after a drop from the post-quota high in 2017; potato production rebounded strongly in 2019
Following the decision to end production quotas, the EU sugar sector — supported by the CAP — underwent a series of deep reforms to prepare it more effectively for the new challenges and opportunities this would bring. In 2017, EU farmers responded by sowing more sugar beet (the cultivated area across the EU-27 was 16.5 % higher than in 2016). The harvested production in 2017 reached a high of 134.2 million tonnes.
The drought of 2018 and a slightly lower area cultivated (-1.5 %) resulted in EU-27 harvested production falling 22.3 million tonnes from the 2017 high. Although the cultivated area of sugar beet contracted more sharply in 2019 (-5.5 %), the harvested production was 1.2 million tonnes higher than in 2018, due to more favourable weather conditions.
In 2019, the EU produced 113.1 million tonnes of sugar beet (see Figure 5), about 60 % of which came from France (33.6 %) and Germany (26.3 %) combined. France produced 38.0 million tonnes of sugar beet in 2019, which was 1.9 million tonnes less than in 2018 (a decline of 4.7 %). In large part, this reflected the sharp contraction in area cultivated (-8.1 %). By contrast, 3.5 million more tonnes of sugar beet were produced in Germany in 2019 than in 2018. This strong rebound (+13.5 %) was despite a slightly lower area being cultivated (-1.3 %).
The EU produced 51.2 million tonnes of potatoes in 2019, which was 4.4 million tonnes more than in 2018 (an increase of 9.4 %). Most of the main potato producing Member States had higher harvests in 2019: the 10.6 million tonnes produced by Germany in 2019 represented a year-on-year increase of 18.8 %; the 8.6 million tonnes produced in France, a rise of 8.9 %; the 7.0 million tonnes produced in the Netherlands an increase of 15.5 %; and, the 4.0 million tonnes produced in Belgium was 32.3 % higher than in 2018. The main exceptions were the lower harvested production levels in Poland (-11.4 %) and in Romania (-13.1 %).
Continued fall in real-terms price for sugar beet, but further rise for potatoes, despite the rebound in production levels
Despite the strong rebound in the level of harvested potato production for the EU-27 as a whole, the average real-terms (deflated) price of potatoes for 2019 was almost one quarter higher (a provisional +23.6 %) than in 2018 (see Figure 7). By contrast, the average real-terms price of sugar beet declined further (a provisional -7.7 %), continuing the downward trend noted since 2013 with market realignment.
Further sharp fall in rape and turnip rape production in 2019 drives overall decline in oilseeds production
The EU cultivates three types of oilseed crop; the main two are rape and turnip rape, and sunflower, although soya is increasingly grown. The EU harvested an estimated 29.5 million tonnes of oilseeds in 2019, which was about 2.5 million tonnes less than in 2018.
The harvested production of rape and turnip rape seeds in the EU-27 was 15.3 million tonnes in 2019, which was 2.6 million tonnes less than in 2018 (the equivalent of a 14.7 % decline). In large part, this reflected a sharp contraction (-19.0 %) in the cultivated area of rape and turnip rape, which was 1.2 million hectares less than in 2018 across the EU as a whole.
The harvested production of sunflower seeds across the EU in 2019 was 10.3 million tonnes (the equivalent of a 2.8 % rise on 2018), which was driven by a sharp expansion (+7.8 %) in the area harvested. The relatively steady growth in soya production in the EU-27 was halted in 2019; there was a decline in the area harvested (-5.0 %) and production (-3.4 %). Nevertheless, the 2.8 million tonnes of soya produced in the EU-27 in 2019 was 1.9 million tonnes more than was harvested a decade earlier (see Figure 8).
Real-terms prices of rape and sunflower seeds flattened out in 2019 but fell sharply for soya
Real-terms (deflated) prices of oilseeds had fallen sharply and steadily in many Member States from relative peaks in 2012. In the cases of rape and turnip rape seed, and sunflower seeds this decline flattened out in 2019 (see Figure 9); for the EU-27 as a whole, average prices in 2019 for both types of oilseed were higher in real terms than in 2018 (both +1.2 % respectively). By contrast, the average real-terms price of soya for the EU-27 continued to decline sharply (a further -5.8 % in 2019).
The EU supports the fruit and vegetable sector through its market-management scheme, which has four broad goals:
- a more competitive and market-oriented sector;
- fewer crisis-related fluctuations in producers’ income;
- greater consumption of fruit and vegetables in the EU; and
- increased use of eco-friendly cultivation and production techniques.
The EU produces millions of tonnes of fruit every year
The EU produces a wide range of fruit, berries and nuts. In 2019, the EU-27 produced 13.7 million tonnes of pome fruit (apples, pears and quinces), 7.3 million tonnes of stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, plums, sloes and medlar), 2.5 million tonnes of sub-tropical and tropical fruits (such as figs, kiwis, avocados and bananas), 0.6 million tonnes of berries (excluding strawberries), and 1.1 million tonnes of nuts. In addition, the EU also produced 10.6 million tonnes of citrus fruit (such as oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lemons, limes and grapefruit) in 2019.
Spain and Italy are the main EU producers of fruit, but for some specific fruit other Member States were key producers.
One quarter of EU apple production in Poland; over one half of all EU oranges from Spain
Thousands of varieties of apple are grown worldwide, many of which have been created and selected to grow in varied climates. This has enabled commercial apple production to take place in almost all Member States. A little more than one quarter (26.6 %) of the EU-27’s harvested apple production came from Poland in 2019. The other principal apple-producing Member States were Italy (19.9 %) and France (15.1 %). By contrast, orange production and peach production are much more restricted by climatic conditions (see Figure 10); about 93 % of all oranges and peaches produced in the EU-27 came from Spain, Italy and Greece.
Italy and Spain produced about two thirds of the EU’s tomatoes in 2019; Spain and the Netherlands produced a little less than one half of the EU’s onions
The EU-27’s harvested production of fresh vegetables (including melons) was 60.9 million tonnes in 2019, about 1.1 million tonnes more than in 2018. Within the group of fresh vegetables, the harvested production of tomatoes was 16.5 million tonnes in 2019, of onions was an estimated 6.1 million tonnes and of carrots an estimated 4.7 million tonnes.
Almost two thirds of the EU-27’s tomato production in 2019 came from Italy (5.3 million tonnes) and Spain (5.0 million tonnes). Despite a higher harvested production of tomatoes in Spain compared to 2018 (+4.9 %), the overall EU-27 harvest was lower (-0.9 %), principally because of a sharp decline (-8.7 %) in Italy.
In 2019, the harvested production of carrots in the EU-27 was higher (+4.5 %) than in 2018, principally due to higher production in Germany (+26.5 %) and the Netherlands (+14.3 %) and despite the lower production level in Poland (-6.6 %). The EU-27’s production of onions in 2019 was higher (+9.0 %) than in 2018, driven by strong growth in Spain (+13.3 %), Germany (+20.7 %) and France (+45.0 %).
The EU is big player on the world’s wine market; between 2014 and 2018 it accounted for 65 % of global production, 60 % of consumption and 70 % of exports, with 45 % of the wine-growing areas in the world .
Harvested production in the main grape-producing countries was down sharply in 2019
The total harvested production of grapes in the EU was an estimated 22.3 million tonnes in 2019. This was 3.3 million tonnes less than in 2018. Each of the five main grape-producing Member States recorded sharply lower production levels; harvested production was down in Italy (-8.4 %), France (-12.7 %), Spain (-18.6 %), Germany (-19.8 %) and Romania (-14.1 %).
The EU is the largest producer of olive oil in the world, accounting for around two thirds of global production. Most of the world’s production comes from southern Europe, northern Africa and the Near East, as 95 % of the olive trees in the world are cultivated in the Mediterranean region. With production concentrated in a relatively small area, the effects of a disease outbreak can have significant implications. For this reason, steps are being taken as a precautionary measure against the spread of the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium  which arrived in Italy in 2013.
Spain is by far the largest producer of olives for olive oil in the EU
Olives often follow a two-year cycle, with a large crop followed by a smaller one. Sometimes the weather can make these cycles more pronounced. Individual countries can have cycles that run counter to one another.
The total harvested production of olives for olive oil in the EU-27 was 9.8 million tonnes in 2019. This was 3.1 million tonnes less than the production level in 2018. This overall decline was due to a much lower harvested production in Spain, which accounted for about 72 % of all EU production in 2018. The production of olives for olive oil in Spain was 5.6 million tonnes in 2019, some 3.6 million tonnes less than in 2018. By contrast, the combined production in Italy and Portugal was up almost 0.5 million tonnes. Italy produced 2.1 million tonnes of olives for olive oil in 2019 and Portugal 1.0 million tonnes. The production level in Greece was similar to that in Portugal in 2019, but this should be seen against the pronounced downward trend noted since a harvest of 1.8 million tonnes was produced in 2012.
Source data for tables and graphs
Statistics on crop products are collected under Regulation (EC) No 543/2009 and obtained by sample surveys, supplemented by administrative data and estimates based on expert observations. The sources vary from one EU Member State to another because of national conditions and statistical practices. National statistical institutes or Ministries of Agriculture are responsible for data collection in accordance with EU regulations. The finalised data sent to Eurostat are as harmonised as possible. Eurostat is responsible for establishing EU aggregates.
The statistics that are collected on agricultural products relate to more than 100 individual crop products. Information is collected for the area under cultivation (expressed in 1 000 hectares), the quantity harvested (expressed in 1 000 tonnes) and the yield (expressed in tonnes per hectare). For some products, data at a national level may be supplemented by regional statistics at NUTS 1 or 2 level.
Agricultural price statistics
EU agricultural price statistics (APS) are based on voluntary agreements between Eurostat and the EU Member States.
National statistical institutes or Ministries of Agriculture are responsible for collecting absolute prices and calculating corresponding average prices for their country, as well as for calculating price indices and periodically updating the weights.
Price indices are reported quarterly and annually. Absolute prices are reported annually. The agricultural prices expressed in national currency are converted into euro by Eurostat using fixed exchange rates or financial market exchange rates, in order to allow comparisons between the EU Member States. Eurostat is responsible for calculating indices for the EU.
There is a diverse range of natural environments, climates and farming practices across the EU, reflected in the broad array of food and drink products that are made available for human consumption and animal feed, as well as a range of inputs for non-food processes. Indeed, agricultural products form a major part of the cultural identity of the EU’s people and its regions.
Statistics on agricultural products may be used to analyse developments within agricultural markets in order to help distinguish between cycles and changing production patterns; they can also be used to study how markets respond to policy actions. Agricultural product data also provide supply-side information, furthering understanding as regards price developments which are of particular interest to agricultural commodity traders and policy analysts.
- Agriculture (t_agri), see:
- Agricultural production (t_apro)
- Crops products (t_apro_cp)
- Agriculture (agri), see:
- Agricultural production (apro)
- Crops products (apro_cp)
- Crop statistics (area, production and yield) (apro_acs)
- Crop statistics (from 2000 onwards) (apro_acs_a)
- Crop statistics (area, production and yield) (apro_acs)
- Crops products (apro_cp)
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2020 edition (statistical book)
- Agricultural production data: methodological notes
- Crop production (ESMS metadata file — apro_cp_esms)
- Crops products: supply balance sheets (ESMS metadata file — apro_cbs_esms)
- Regulation (EC) No 543/2009 of 18 June 2009 concerning crop statistics
- Summaries of EU Legislation: Agricultural production — crop statistics
- The Joint Research Centre (JRC) produces a series of monthly bulletins on weather events for crop monitoring in Europe, from which much of this analysis is drawn. The analysis is conducted at the EU and Member State levels.
- European Commission’s Directorate- General of Agriculture and Rural Development: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/sugar/index_en.htm.
- For further information, see the overview of the wine market from the European Commission’s Directorate- General of Agriculture and Rural Development.
- For further information see the plant health and biosecurity products pages of the European Commission.