Agricultural production - crops
From Statistics Explained
- Data from September 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: July 2014.
This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat publication Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics pocketbook. European Union (EU) 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. Production refers to the calendar year in which the harvest began, and is a function of yields and the area under cultivation.
The term ‘crop’ covers a very broad range of cultivated plants. Within each type of crop there can also be considerable diversity in terms of genetic and phenotypic (physical or biochemical) characteristics. The range and variety of crops grown across the EU reflects their heritable traits as well as plant breeders’ ability to harness those traits to best respond to the myriad of topographic and climatic conditions, pests and diseases.
Main statistical findings
The harvested production of cereals (including rice) in the EU-28 was estimated to be 284.7 million tonnes in 2012. This represented about one ninth of global cereals production (based on estimates made by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization), making the EU one of the world’s biggest producers of cereals. Nevertheless, EU-28 production of cereals in 2012 was an estimated 10.0 million tonnes less than in 2011 and 35.8 million tonnes (or 11.2 %) less than the peak production level that was recorded in 2008 (see Figure 1).
Common wheat, barley and grain maize and corn cob mix account for a high share (84.5 % in 2012) of the cereals produced in the EU-28 (see Figure 2). The decline in the EU-28’s total cereals production in 2012 largely reflected lower production levels of grain maize (down 10.7 million tonnes to 59.9 million tonnes) and of common wheat (down 5.5 million tonnes to 125.7 million tonnes). However, the level of production rose for some types of cereal: the EU-28’s production of barley in 2012 was 3.0 million tonnes higher than in 2011 (at 54.9 million tonnes) and the production level of rye was 2.2 million tonnes higher (at 9.3 million tonnes) — see Figure 3.
France produced about one quarter (24.1 %) of the EU-28’s cereal production in 2012. Germany (16.0 %) and Poland (10.0 %) together contributed just over a quarter of the EU total, while the United Kingdom was the next largest cereal producer (accounting for 6.9 % of the EU-28’s output). Among the EU Member States, France was the largest producer of common wheat, barley and grain maize, and corn cob mix in 2012 (see Figure 4). In contrast to the overall decline in EU-28 cereals production in 2012, the level of cereals’ production rose in France by 4.6 million tonnes. The largest declines in cereal production between 2011 and 2012 were recorded for Romania (a reduction of 8.2 million tonnes, principally for grain maize and corn cob mix), Spain (down 4.8 million tonnes) and Hungary (down 3.4 million tonnes), where severe drought and/or winterkill affected yields.
According to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development about two thirds of the rice consumed by EU citizens is grown in the EU. Rice is cultivated on submerged land in coastal plains, deltas and river basins. It can grow in areas with a high risk of salinity and therefore helps keep salt water away from the land. Rice production in the EU-28 was 3.0 million tonnes in 2012, down moderately (by 3.3 %) on the level of 2011. Italy produced a little over a half (54.8 %) of the EU-28’s rice in 2012. Much of this production was concentrated in the Po valley. Almost 30 % of the EU-28’s production came from Spain, where production was rather more widespread (in regions such as Andalucía, Extremadura and Aragon).
The EU-28 produced 115.6 million tonnes of sugar beet in 2012, which was 11.8 million tonnes less than in 2011 (see Figure 5), but still at the top end of the range recorded since the 2006 reform of the EU’s sugar policy (production fluctuated between 104 and 116 million tonnes from 2006–12 other than the relative high of 2011, when output reached 127 million tonnes). A little more than half of the EU-28’s sugar beet production in 2012 came from France (29.2 %) and Germany (23.9 %), with Poland (10.7 %) and the United Kingdom (7.3 %) being the next largest producers.
Sugar beet production in the EU is managed by an overarching system of production quotas, minimum price guarantees and trade measures for sugar. The division of the 13.3 million tonne sugar quota in 2012 was divided into national production limits among the 19 sugar beet producing Member States of the EU. According to provisional estimates from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development the production of sugar beet in the EU-27 in 2012 was transformed into 16.9 million tonnes of white sugar (about one quarter of which was out-of-quota production) and 0.7 million tonnes of isoglucose.
Rape and turnip rape, and sunflowers are the main types of oilseeds that are produced in the EU-28. An estimated 19.2 million tonnes of rape and turnip rape were produced in 2012, a similar quantity to that produced in 2011 (+0.2 %). By comparison, an estimated 7.1 million tonnes of sunflower seed were produced across the EU-28 in 2012. This marked a relatively sharp reduction (-17.6 %) from the most recent peak in production (8.5 million tonnes recorded in 2011) — see Figure 6.
The EU produces a broad range of fruit and vegetables thanks to its varied climatic and topographic conditions. The EU is one of the main global producers of tomatoes; open-air production is typical in the more southerly Member States and this is complimented by all-season production in greenhouses that is typical in countries such as the Netherlands and Belgium. The EU-28 produced an estimated 15.9 million tonnes of tomatoes in 2012, of which approximately two thirds came from Italy and Spain. Whereas the production of tomatoes declined sharply in Italy (down from 7.5 million tonnes in 2000 to 6.0 million tonnes in 2011), production continued to fluctuate around the 4.0 million tonne mark in Spain.
The EU-28 produced an estimated 5.2 million tonnes of carrots and 6.0 million tonnes of onions in 2012 (on the basis of the information presented in Table 2). Carrot production was relatively high in Poland and the United Kingdom, together they accounted for a little over one quarter (16.1 % and 12.8 % respectively) of the EU-28’s output in 2012. The production of carrots in these two Member States remained relatively stable during the period from 2000–12, at around 0.7–0.8 million tonnes. The Netherlands and Spain are the principal onion producing countries within the EU, together accounting for a little over two fifths (42.2 %) of the EU-28’s output in 2012. Production in the Netherlands rose relatively sharply after 2006.
Around 11.7 million tonnes of apples were produced in the EU-28 in 2012 (on the basis of the latest, provisional data, see Table 2 for more details regarding data availability). Apples are produced in almost all of the EU Member States, although Poland, Italy and France are by far the largest producers. Citrus fruit production in the EU is much more restricted by climatic conditions; the vast majority of oranges are produced in Spain and Italy, although there are also relatively low levels of production in Greece and Portugal.
The EU is the largest wine producer in the world, accounting for about two thirds of global production according to the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Agriculture and Rural Development. Of the estimated 22.8 million tonnes of grapes produced in the EU-28 in 2012, the vast majority (91 %) was destined for wine production. Italy, Spain and France are the principal grape producers in the EU (see Figure 7).
The EU is also the largest producer of olive oil in the world, accounting for almost three quarters of global production according to the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Agriculture and Rural Development. Olive growing is a major feature of sociocultural life in many Mediterranean regions. Olive trees are grown in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France, Cyprus, Slovenia and Malta — although 95 % of the olive production in the EU-28 in 2011 was concentrated in the first three of these eight Member States (see Figure 8).
Data sources and availability
Statistics on crop products are 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 EC 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 hectares), the quantity harvested (expressed in tonnes) and the yield (expressed in kilograms per hectare). For some products, data at a national level may be supplemented by regional statistics at NUTS level 1 or level 2.
There is a diverse range of natural environments, climates and farming practices across the European Union (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.
- Agri-environmental indicators
- Agricultural accounts and prices
- Agricultural census
- Agricultural production - animals
Further Eurostat information
- Regional Statistics Illustrated — select statistical domain 'Agriculture' (top right)
- Food: from farm to fork statistics — 2011 edition (Pocketbook)
- Main annual crops - available mid-September 2013
- Vineyard - available mid-September 2013
- Agriculture (t_agri), see:
- Agricultural production (t_apro)
- Crops products (t_apro_cp)
- Agriculture (agri), see:
- Agricultural production (apro)
- Crops products (apro_cp)
- Crops products: areas and productions (apro_cpp)
- Crops products - annual data (apro_cpp_crop)
- Land use - 1 000 ha - annual data (apro_cpp_luse)
- Crops products: supply balances sheets (apro_cpb)
- Cereals balance sheet - marketing year (apro_cpb_cerea)
- Rice balance sheet - marketing year (apro_cpb_rice)
- Sugar balance sheet - marketing year (apro_cpb_sugar)
- Wine balance sheet - marketing year (apro_cpb_wine)
- Crops products: areas and productions (apro_cpp)
- Crops products (apro_cp)
Methodology / Metadata
- Agricultural production data: methodological notes
- Crops products: areas and production (ESMS metadata file)
- Crops products: supply balance sheets (ESMS metadata file)
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- Regulation 543/2009 of 18 June 2009 concerning crop statistics