The EU in the world - agriculture, forestry and fisheries

This is the stable Version.

Data extracted in April 2018.

Planned article update: June 2020.

Highlights

The EU had the largest production of milk in absolute terms and relative to population size among G20 members in 2016.

Australia had the largest production of meat relative to population size among G20 members in 2016.

Between 2005 and 2015, among G20 members the share of land covered by forests decreased most strongly in Indonesia.

Agriculture, forestry and fisheries, 2016
(% of total employment)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_egan2) and the International Labour Organisation (ILOSTAT)

This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on Eurostat’s publication The EU in the world 2018.

The article focuses on statistics related to agriculture, forestry and fishing in the European Union (EU) and the 15 non-EU members of the Group of Twenty (G20) and gives an insight into the EU’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries activities in comparison with the major economies in the rest of the world, such as its counterparts in the so-called Triad — Japan and the United States — and the BRICS composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Full article

Labour force

Less than one tenth of the labour force was active in agriculture, forestry and fisheries in most G20 members in 2016

In most G20 members, less than one tenth of the labour force was active in agriculture, fishing and forestry in 2016, according to data from the United NationsFood and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Nevertheless, this share exceeded one quarter in China (28.3 %; 2015 data), reached one third in Indonesia (33.0 %; 2015 data) and approached half in India (47.0 %; 2012 data). The share of the labour force active in agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the EU-28 was 4.3 %.

In the vast majority of G20 members, the share of the labour force active in agriculture, forestry and fisheries was higher for men than for women (see Figure 1). This was most notably the case in Mexico (2017 data) where there was a difference of 14.8 points between the shares for men and women and in Brazil (2017 data) where the difference was 9.2 points. In the EU-28, 5.2 % of men in the labour force worked in these activities compared with 3.1 % of women, a difference of 2.1 points. The two exceptions among the G20 members were Turkey (2017 data) and India (2012 data), as the proportions of women working in agriculture, forestry and fisheries were 12.9 points and 16.5 points higher than for men. In India, three fifths (59.9 %) of women worked in these activities, by far the highest share among the G20 members.
Figure 1: Agriculture, forestry and fisheries, 2016
(% of total employment)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_egan2) and the International Labour Organisation (ILOSTAT)

Agricultural area

The agricultural area of the EU-28 in 2015 was greater than its forest area

The total agricultural area (including unused agricultural land) of the EU-28 was 184.6 million hectares (100 hectares is one km2) in 2015, some 43.5 % of its total land area. Among the G20 members, the most extensive total agricultural areas in 2015 were recorded for China (529 million hectares) and the United States (406 million hectares).

The ratio of the total agricultural area to the total land area (shown in Figure 2) can be compared with a similar ratio for forests (shown in Figure 7), from which it can be seen that the EU’s agricultural share of the land area was 5.5 percentage points larger. Among the G20 members, the ratio of the total agricultural area to the total land area reached three fifths in India (60.4 %) and was between half and three fifths in China, Mexico, Argentina and Turkey; note that comparable data are not available for Saudi Arabia and South Africa. By contrast, this share was below one fifth in South Korea, Russia and Japan and below one tenth in Canada.
Figure 2: Agricultural area, 2005 and 2015
(% of land area)
Source: the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Inputs)

The ratio of the total agricultural area to the total land area fell in a small majority of G20 members between 2005 and 2015, although there were increases of 4.0 points in Argentina, 2.8 points in Indonesia, 1.2 points in Brazil and 1.1 points in China, as well as smaller increases (0.1 points) in Russia and Mexico. South Korea (-1.6 points), Turkey (-3.5 points) and Australia (-10.3 points) reported the largest decreases.

Agricultural products

The production of a range of different crops across the G20 members is presented in Table 1 with the total production of cereals (relative to the size of the population) shown in Figure 3. Crop production refers to the harvested quantity of production. The United States was the largest producer of maize among the G20 members in 2016, while the EU-28 had the highest wheat production, followed by China, India, Russia and the United States. Rice production in G20 members was dominated by China, India and Indonesia, while sugar cane production was particularly high in Brazil and to a lesser extent in India and China.
Table 1: Production of selected crops, 2006 and 2016
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_cpnh1) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Production)

Between 2006 and 2016, world production of all of the crops shown in Table 1 increased, most notably the harvest of maize increasing overall by 49.7 % and the harvest of sugar cane increasing overall by 33.4 %. The production of maize increased in nearly all G20 members, with the largest increase among the G20 members in Russia where output more than trebled while the largest increase among the bigger producers was in Argentina where output more than doubled. Brazil reported the largest increase for sugar cane in relative and absolute terms, its output increasing by 61.0 %, while Argentina and South Africa both recorded relatively large decreases in output, 16.9 % and 25.7 % respectively. The three largest producers of rice saw output increase between 2006 and 2016, rising overall by 41.9 % in Indonesia, 15.3 % in China and 14.1 % in India. Like maize, wheat production increased in most G20 members, although among the largest producers it fell by 11.4 % in Australia. Among the other G20 members harvesting more than 10 million tonnes of wheat, Russia’s output increased most, up 63.1 %. China strengthened its position as the largest producer of potatoes, its output expanding by 83.4 %.

Cereals production increased strongly in Argentina such that by 2016 it had the largest output per inhabitant among the G20 members

Worldwide production of cereals per inhabitant increased overall by 12.0 % between 2006 and 2016, with the increase in the EU-28 around two thirds this rate, with growth of 8.3 %. The fastest increase in cereals production per inhabitant during this 10 year period was reported by Argentina, rising overall by 87.4 % to reach a level of 1 529 kg per inhabitant, the highest level among all G20 members in 2016, just ahead of Canada (1 523 kg per inhabitant); the United States (1 477 kg per inhabitant) and Australia (1 460 kg per inhabitant) were the only other G20 members with a production of cereals exceeding 1 000 kg per inhabitant (see Figure 3). Russia recorded the second largest increase in cereals output per inhabitant, up overall by 53.2 % between 2006 and 2016, while increases between 20 % and 30 % were observed in Indonesia, the United States, Brazil and China.
Figure 3: Production of cereals, 2006 and 2016
(kg per inhabitant)
Source: Eurostat (apro_cpnh1) and (demo_gind), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Production) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision)

The EU-28 had the largest production of milk in 2016 among G20 members in absolute terms and relative to population size

The production level for a selection of animal products is presented in Table 2, focusing on meat and milk. Meat production covers the carcass weight of slaughtered animals whose meat is declared fit for human consumption. The G20 members produced nearly four fifths (79.1 %) of the 330 million tonnes of meat produced worldwide in 2016, with China, the EU-28, the United States and Brazil collectively producing 62.3 % of the world total. The G20 members were particularly specialised in the production of pig meat, accounting for 87.8 % of the world total, while the lowest share for G20 members for the types of meat shown in Table 8.2 was 56.2 % for sheep and goat meat.
Table 2: Meat and milk production, 2016
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mt_pann), (apro_mt_sloth) and (apro_mk_farm) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Production)

Half or more of the total meat production in Argentina and Australia was cattle meat, while similar levels of specialisation were recorded in China and South Korea for pig meat, and in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey, Japan, South Africa and Brazil for poultry meat. The EU-28 was the largest producer of milk (169 million tonnes) among the G20 members, just ahead of India (159 million tonnes), with the United States (96 million tonnes) clearly the third largest producer. In several countries, the relatively low levels of meat production in general and of some types of meat in particular reflects to some degree the predominant religious beliefs.

Australia had the largest production of meat in 2016 among G20 members relative to population size

Figure 4 presents information on the levels of meat and milk production relative to population size: worldwide 2.4 times as much milk was produced as meat, averaging 107 kg of milk per inhabitant and 44 kg of meat. Average production per inhabitant in the EU-28 was higher, approximately double the world average for meat and treble the world average for milk. In most G20 members, meat production per inhabitant exceeded the world average, the exceptions being India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Turkey. Averages above 100 kg per inhabitant were recorded in Argentina, Canada, Brazil and the United States, while the highest level of meat production per inhabitant was in Australia, 195 kg per inhabitant. Behind the EU-28, Australia was the only other G20 member to produce more than 300 kg of milk per inhabitant in 2016, although production was close to this level in the United States. At the other end of the range, less than 50 kg of milk per inhabitant was produced in South Korea and China, while the lowest milk production of all G20 members was 5.7 kg per inhabitant in Indonesia.
Figure 4: Meat and milk production, 2016
(kg per inhabitant)
Source: Eurostat (apro_mk_farm) and (demo_gind), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Production) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision)
China alone contributed 26.1 % of world meat production in 2016 (see Figure 5), considerably more than the next largest shares among G20 members, 14.4 % for the EU-28, 13.5 % for the United States and 8.3 % for Brazil: none of the other G20 members produced more than 3.0 % of the world’s meat.
Figure 5: Meat production, 2006 and 2016
(% of world total)
Source: the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Production)

Comparing 2006 and 2016, the EU-28’s share of world meat production fell 1.6 points and the United States reported a similar fall, down 1.5 points. China’s share fell by 0.5 points and Canada’s by 0.3 points. By contrast, Turkey's share increased by 0.4 points and Brazil's by 0.6 points, while Russia’s share increased by 1.0 points, which was a particularly large increase in relative terms as its share in 2006 had been just 2.0 %.

A similar calculation for milk production (as shown in Figure 6) confirms that milk production was concentrated in a similar group of G20 members, led by the EU-28 (20.4 % of the world total), India (20.0 %) and the United States (12.1 %), which collectively produced more than half (52.5 %) of all milk produced worldwide.
Figure 6: Milk production, 2006 and 2016
(% of world total)
Source: the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Production)

Between 2006 and 2016, the G20’s share of world milk production increased slightly, from 74.1 % to 74.8 %. The development of the shares of the two largest milk producers within the G20 — the EU-28 and India — mirrored each other: the EU-28’s share of the world total fell by 2.3 points during this period, while that of India increased by 5.0 points. Elsewhere, the changes recorded for these shares were more subdued, ranging from an increase of 0.5 points in Turkey to a fall of 0.5 points in Australia.

Forestry

Forests occur under a huge variety of climatic, geographic, ecological and socio-economic conditions and are an essential part of the natural environment. They have an impact on water resources, act as a stabiliser for the Earth’s climate, provide shelter to animal and plant life, provide food, medicinal and cosmetic resources, genetic breeding stock, seeds for cultivation, wood and similar materials to be used for manufacturing, construction and as a fuel. Forestry also provides employment in many rural areas and diverse opportunities for outdoor recreation attracting tourists.

Among G20 members, between 2005 and 2015 the share of land covered by forests decreased most strongly in Indonesia

Forest cover within the EU-28 extended to 161 million hectares (100 hectares is one km2) in 2015, around 38.0 % of its total land area (see Figure 7), above the world average of 30.7 %. In 2015, more than half of the land area in Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Indonesia was forested, while the share in Russia was just below half. Among the G20 members, Argentina (9.9 %) and South Africa (7.6 %) recorded shares below one tenth while by far the lowest share of land that was covered by forests was in Saudi Arabia (0.5 %).
Figure 7: Forest area, 2005 and 2015
(% of land area)
Source: Eurostat (for_area) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Inputs)

Between 2005 and 2015, the share of land covered by forests increased by 1.6 points in China, 1.4 points in Turkey and 1.0 points in the EU-28 and India; smaller increases were observed in the United States, Russia and Japan. Worldwide, the share of forests in total land area fell by 0.3 points between 2005 and 2015, with Australia, Mexico, Argentina, South Korea, Brazil and Indonesia recording falls that exceeded the world average: in Brazil the decline in forest area was equal to 1.6 points while in Indonesia it was 3.8 points.

The United States and the EU-28 were the largest producers of roundwood and sawnwood in 2016 among the G20 members

Roundwood production (also known as removals) comprises all quantities of wood removed from forests, other wooded land, or other tree felling sites. Roundwood production in the EU-28 was 372 million m3 (9.9 % of the world total) in 2016, making the EU-28 the second largest producer within the G20 behind the United States which had a 10.8 % world share (see Figure 8). India had a 9.5 % share of the world total, followed by China with 8.9 % and Brazil with 6.9 %. In total, G20 members accounted for 63.9 % of roundwood production worldwide in 2016.
Figure 8: Production of roundwood and sawnwood, 2016
(% of world total)
Source: Eurostat (for_basic) and (for_swpan) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAOSTAT: Forestry)

The EU-28 was the largest producer of sawnwood, with an output of 86 million m3 in 2016, equivalent to 18.5 % of the world total. Sawnwood is produced either by sawing lengthways or by a profile-chipping process and, with a few exceptions, is greater than 6 millimetres (mm) in thickness. Sawnwood production in the United States and China was slightly less than in the EU-28, contributing 16.7 % and 16.5 % to the world total. Collectively the G20 members (excluding Saudi Arabia) produced 82.8 % of world sawnwood production, a considerably greater share than for roundwood.

Fisheries

Aside from fish farming, fish are not owned until they have been caught, and so fish stocks continue to be regarded as a common resource, requiring collective management. This has led to a range of policies and international agreements that regulate the amount of fishing, as well as the types of fishing techniques and gear used to catch fish.

The fish catch refers to all catches of fishery products (including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and other aquatic animals, residues and aquatic plants) taken by all types and classes of fishing units that are operating in inland, inshore, offshore and high-seas fishing areas. The catch statistics exclude quantities of fishery products which are caught but which, for a variety of reasons, are not landed.

The largest fish catch relative to population size in 2016 among G20 members was reported for Russia, some 3.2 times the level for the EU-28

The total fish catch by the EU-28 fishing fleet was 5.3 million tonnes in 2016, 9.4 % less than had been caught 10 years earlier. Relative to population size this was equivalent to 10.3 kg per inhabitant in 2016. The largest fish catch relative to population size among G20 members in 2016 was reported for Russia, 33.2 kg per inhabitant, some 3.2 times the level for the EU-28. Five G20 members reported lower levels of fish catch per inhabitant than the EU-28: Australia, Turkey, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

Between 2006 and 2016, the Russian fish catch relative to population size increased by 10.2 kg per inhabitant, far more than in any other G20 member (see Figure 9): Indonesia (up 4.3 kg per inhabitant), China (up 1.4 kg per inhabitant) and India (up 0.5 kg per inhabitant) were the only other G20 members to report an increase. South Korea, Japan, Canada and Argentina reported the largest decreases in their fish catches relative to their population size, each down by between 8.8 kg and 12.4 kg per inhabitant.
Figure 9: Fish catch, 2006 and 2016
(kg per inhabitant)
Source: Eurostat (fish_ca_main) and (demo_gind), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (Global Capture Production) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision)

Aquaculture (also known as fish farming) refers to the farming of aquatic (freshwater or saltwater) organisms, such as fish, molluscs, crustaceans and plants for human use or consumption, under controlled conditions. Aquaculture implies some form of intervention in the natural rearing process to enhance production, including regular stocking, feeding and protection from predators.

Aquaculture production in the EU-28 was estimated at 1.3 million tonnes in 2015, equivalent to 2.5 kg per inhabitant. While this was larger than in six of the other G20 members, it was far behind the levels of production observed in three Asian members, namely, South Korea (36.6 kg per inhabitant), China (45.4 kg per inhabitant) and Indonesia (63.6 kg per inhabitant).
Figure 10: Aquaculture production, 2006 and 2016
(kg per inhabitant)
Source: Eurostat (fish_aq_q), (fish_aq2a) and (demo_gind), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (Global Aquaculture Production) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision)

Aquaculture production relative to population size fell between 2006 and 2016 in Japan and the United States and very slightly in the EU-28, while there was almost no change in the size of the relatively small levels of aquaculture in South Africa and Argentina. Elsewhere, increases in aquaculture production were greater than population increases, with particularly strong growth in the three Asian members with the highest levels of output per inhabitant, rising by 10.4 kg per inhabitant in South Korea, 15.6 kg per inhabitant in China and 52.8 kg per inhabitant in Indonesia. In relative terms, the highest increase in aquaculture production per inhabitant between 2006 and 2016 was recorded in Indonesia, where output increased approximately six-fold, while in Saudi Arabia and Brazil it nearly doubled.

Relative to population size, the EU-28’s combined fish catch and aquaculture production was estimated at 12.8 kg per inhabitant in 2016, a relatively low level compared with most other G20 members. The highest levels of production were witnessed in South Korea and Indonesia, with 64.1 kg per inhabitant and 88.9 kg per inhabitant respectively.

Data sources

The statistical data in this article were extracted during April 2018.

The indicators are often compiled according to international — sometimes worldwide — standards. Although most data are based on international concepts and definitions there may be certain discrepancies in the methods used to compile the data.

EU data

Most of the indicators presented for the EU have been drawn from Eurobase, Eurostat’s online database. Eurobase is updated regularly, so there may be differences between data appearing in this article and data that is subsequently downloaded. Some of the data have been extracted from international sources for reasons of comparability or availability.

G20 members from the rest of the world

For the 15 non-EU G20 members, the data presented have been compiled by a number of international organisations, namely the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation and the World Bank. For some of the indicators shown a range of international statistical sources are available, each with their own policies and practices concerning data management (for example, concerning data validation, correction of errors, estimation of missing data, and frequency of updating). In general, attempts have been made to use only one source for each indicator in order to provide a comparable dataset for the members.

Context

The importance of agriculture, forestry and fishing goes far beyond their simple economic function, reflecting the role of these activities within society and the contribution and impact of their resources on the environment. In this respect, some of the most frequently discussed concerns include the protection of the environment, sustainable practices for farming, forestry and fishing, food safety and security, animal welfare and broader perspectives relating to rural development.

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Agricultural production (apro)
Crops (apro_crop)
Crop production (apro_cp)
Crop production in national humidity (from 2000 onwards) (apro_cpnh)
Crop production in national humidity (apro_cpnh1)
Milk and milk products (apro_mk)
Production and utilization of milk on the farm - annual data (apro_mk_farm)
Livestock and meat (apro_mt)
Meat production (apro_mt_p)
Slaughtering in slaughterhouses - annual data (apro_mt_pann)
Estimates of slaughtering, other than in slaughterhouses - annual data (apro_mt_sloth)
Timber removals, wood products and trade (for_rpt)
Roundwood production and trade (for_rptt)
Roundwood, fuelwood and other basic products (for_basic)
Production and trade in primary products (for_rptp)
Sawnwood and panels (for_swpan)
Forest resources (for_sfm)
Area of wooded land (source: FAO - FE) (for_area)
Catches by fishing area (fish_ca)
Catches - major fishing areas (from 2000 onwards) (fish_ca_main)
Aquaculture production by species (fish_aq)
Production from aquaculture excluding hatcheries and nurseries (from 2008 onwards) (fish_aq2a)
Aquaculture production (until 2007) (fish_aq08)
Aquaculture production in quantities (1984-2007) - tonnes live weight (fish_aq_q)
LFS series - Detailed annual survey results (lfsa)
Employment - LFS series (lfsa_emp)
Employment by sex, age and economic activity (from 2008 onwards, NACE Rev. 2) - 1 000 (lfsa_egan2)