EU Science Hub

JRC contribution to the EU Agricultural Outlook

Dec 07 2018

The EU Agricultural Outlook for markets and income 2018-2030, published on Thursday, 6 December 2018, presents the EU's annual projections for agricultural commodity markets to 2030, highlighting the importance of technological innovation and the increasing demand for organic products in the EU.

Compiled by the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), the EU Agricultural Outlook presents the likely developments of the major EU agricultural commodity markets and agricultural income until 2030.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) contributed to this report with an uncertainty analysis. This analysis quantifies some of the risks and provides background information on possible variations in market projections, taking into account the macroeconomic environment and yield variability for the main crops.

The modelling work for the EU Agricultural Outlook was carried out by the Economics of Agriculture Unit at the JRC, in close collaboration with the Analysis and Outlook Unit of DG AGRI. As in previous years, the DG JRC contributed to the Outlook with selected scenarios, such as the potential market impacts of Chinese retaliatory tariffs on US soya bean and pigmeat imports, the drivers of protein-rich crop development in the EU, and the market and non-market impacts of EU household food waste reductions.

The EU Outlook describes the trends for major EU agricultural commodities such as cereals, oilseeds, pulses, sugar, fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat products and biofuels until 2030. The JRC evaluated environmental indicators such as greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion by water, nitrogen losses to water and nitrogen pressures on plant biodiversity, and provided an agro-economic analysis of climate change impacts in Europe and a review of the effects of organic farming on climate change.

Predictions of future trends

This outlook, which serves as baseline for policy and market analysis and evaluation, is based on the existing policy framework and expected trends in the macro-economic environment. Under these assumptions, agriculture will still play a prominent role in the EU's society in 2030, with only a minor reduction in land use and some additional labour outflow.

Consumers in the EU and abroad will become more demanding with regard to the food they consume, giving impetus to adding value (such as local, organic or other certified products) on the one hand and shifting between food categories on the other. Trends towards reduced meat, bread and sugar consumption compensated by increased consumption of plant-based proteins exemplify this consumption shift.

Pressure from climate change and environmental commitments will be compensated only partly by advances in management and technology (such as precision farming), resulting in increasing yields though at a slower pace compared to the past. Most of the EU's agricultural production will be consumed domestically. The EU will win market shares in some export markets (e.g. for dairy products) while facing additional pressures on the import side for specific products (e.g. beef).

Finally, the importance of technological innovation and the increasing demand for organic products are found to increasingly drive the evolution of EU agricultural markets. The main topics for discussion in this year's EU Agricultural Outlook conference were the role of precision farming and the future shared use of big data. Moreover, the audience highlighted sustainability and food safety as the most important elements of EU agriculture.

The 2018 EU Agricultural Outlook conference was opened by Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, with the participation of the JRC Director-General Vladimir Sucha. The preparatory EU Outlook Workshop organised by the JRC in October this year was an integral part of the intensive validation procedure of the EU Outlook results, and provided a forum for discussion for relevant stakeholders. The proceedings of the October 2018 EU Outlook Workshop were published during the conference.

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