From Statistics Explained
- Data from September 2012. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
There is a wide diversity of natural environments, climates and farming practices across Europe that are 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 Europe’s people and regions.
With this in mind, European Union (EU) legislation has been developed to protect particular food and drink product names which are linked to a specific territory or a specific production method, aiming to provide guarantees as to the origin (demarcation) and authenticity of a range of products.
Main statistical findings
In 2010, the EU-27 produced 282.9 million tonnes of cereals (including rice). Despite the vagaries of the weather, cereal production in the EU-27 was relatively stable between 2000 and 2010 – never fluctuating by more than +/-20 % (see Figure 1) – albeit with notably higher harvests in 2004 and 2008. The production of cereals in the EU-27 fell from a high recorded in 2008 with production down by 6.1 % in 2009 and by a further 4.5 % in 2010. Nevertheless, the production of cereals within the EU-27 remained 1.8 % higher in 2010 than it had been in 2000. On the other hand, the output of potatoes declined steadily during the last decade (with production falling overall by 24.5 % between 2000 and 2009).
Figure 2 presents an analysis of the production of cereals in the EU-27 in 2010. Almost half (48.6 %) of the total production of cereals was accounted for by wheat, while around one fifth of the total was composed of grain maize (19.9 %) and barley (18.3 %).
France and Germany were by far the largest cereal, sugar beet and oilseed producers, together accounting for more than half of the EU-27’s sugar beet production (53.1 %), and just under two fifths of its oilseeds production (38.9 %) and of its cereal production (37.3 %) in 2011 (see Table 1). The production of potatoes was more widely spread across the EU Member States, with Germany recording the highest level of production (almost 20 % of the EU-27 total), while Poland, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom each accounted for between 14 % and 10 %. France was, by far, the leading producer of pulses (2011) and textile crops (2010).
In the EU-27, the most important vegetables in terms of production were tomatoes, onions and carrots, while the most important fruits were apples, oranges and peaches. In 2011, Italy and Spain had the largest vegetable production among the EU Member States, with a combined share that was equal to two fifths (41.5 %) of the EU-27’s production of 57.5 million tonnes. Italy and Spain were also the largest producers of fruit among the EU Member States, with 21.6 million and 11.2 million tonnes respectively in 2009.
An analysis for individual products shows that fruit and fresh vegetable production was concentrated in a few Member States. For example, nearly three fifths of the EU-27’s apple production in 2011 was located in Italy, Poland and France (2010 data), while practically all oranges were produced in Spain and Italy, aside from relatively small levels of production in Greece and Portugal. Close to two thirds (around 64 %) of all the tomatoes produced in the EU-27 originated from Italy and Spain, while almost half (about 46 %) of the onions produced in the EU-27 came from either the Netherlands or Spain.
Meat and milk
Table 2 summarises a range of different agricultural products that are related to animals. The principal meat product in the EU-27 was pig meat (22.4 million tonnes in 2011), with the weight of production almost three times as high as that for cuts of beef/veal from cattle meat (7.8 million tonnes); the production of sheep meat in the EU-27 was relatively modest (0.7 million tonnes).
A quarter (25.0 % or almost 5.6 million tonnes) of the EU-27’s pig meat production in 2011 came from Germany, the next highest contributions being recorded for Spain (15.5 %) and France (8.9 %), while the 8.1 % share for Poland and the 7.7 % share for Denmark were also notable. Just under one fifth (19.9 % or almost 1.7 million tonnes) of the beef/veal produced in the EU-27 originated from France in 2011, with Germany and Italy the only other Member States to report production in excess of one million tonnes; Ireland reported a relatively high share (7.0 %) of the EU-27’s production of cattle meat. The United Kingdom dominated the production of sheep meat (almost 0.3 million tonnes), with a 39.4 % share of the EU-27 total in 2011, followed by Spain (17.8 %), France (11.6 %), Greece (9.7 %) and Ireland (6.6 %).
Dairy production has a diverse structure across the EU Member States, in terms of farm and dairy herd sizes, as well as milk yields. The total collection of milk in the EU-27 in 2011 amounted to an estimated 140 million tonnes. Figure 5 shows that over one third (36.1 %) of the whole milk that was utilised in the EU-27 in 2011 was converted into cheese, with butter accounting for the next highest proportion (28.1 %); just over a tenth of the whole milk utilised in the EU-27 was used for drinking milk (12.6 %) and for cream (11.8 %). Germany and France recorded the highest amounts of milk collected in the EU-27 in 2011 and they also accounted for the highest levels of production for butter and cheese; together they contributed between 40 % and 50 % of the EU-27’s total production for these three dairy products.
Data sources and availability
Annual statistics on the production of a range of specific crops are covered by Council Regulations, although the data presented for fresh fruit and vegetables are collected under various informal agreements with the EU Member States.
The statistics on crop production relate to harvested production. Agricultural production of crops is synonymous with harvested production and includes marketed quantities, as well as quantities consumed directly on the farm, losses and waste on the holding, and losses during transport, storage and packaging.
Statistics on milk, eggs and meat products are compiled according to Community legislation. Milk production covers farm production of milk from cows, sheep, goats and buffaloes. A distinction is made between milk collected by dairies and milk production on the farm. Milk collection is only a part of the total use of milk production on the farm, the remainder generally includes own consumption, direct sale and cattle feed.
Meat production is based on the carcass weight of meat fit for human consumption. The concept of carcass weight is generally the weight of the slaughtered animal’s cold body, although the precise definition varies according to the animal under consideration.
Information on agricultural products may be used to analyse developments within agricultural markets in order to help distinguish between cycles and changing production patterns; these statistics can also be used to study how markets respond to policy actions. Agricultural product data also provides supply side information, furthering understanding as regards price developments which are of particular interest to agricultural commodity traders and policy analysts.
In October 2007, the Council adopted legislation to establish a single common market organisation for agricultural products (Regulation 1234/2007). This was designed to reduce the volume of legislation in the farming sector, to improve legislative transparency, and to make agricultural policy more easily accessible. Between the start of 2008 and the start of 2009, the single common market organisation replaced 21 individual markets for a variety of different products such as fruit and vegetables, cereals, meats, eggs, dairy products, sugar or wine.
Widespread reforms of the common agricultural policy (CAP) took place in 2003 and 2008. During the summer of 2010 a consultation process was organised in relation to the development of future agricultural policy. This identified three key areas for the stakeholders consulted, namely, food security, environmental concerns, and rural diversity. In November 2010, the European Commission released a Communication (COM(2010) 672 final) providing a blueprint for developing agricultural policy, titled ‘The CAP towards 2020: meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future’. The document detailed some of the main challenges facing the EU’s agricultural sector in the coming decade – for example, how to preserve the EU’s food production so as to guarantee long-term food security, while supporting farming communities that provide a diverse range of quality products, and ensuring environmental, water, animal and plant health requirements are met. This was followed, in October 2011, by a set of legal proposals concerning the future of the CAP: among these was a proposal to reform the existing common organisation of the markets in agricultural products (Single CMO Regulation) (COM(2011) 626 final/3). The proposal aims to streamline, simplify and expand provisions on the basis of previous experience with public intervention, private storage, exceptional/emergency measures and aid. Exceptional market support measures foreseen in the proposal concern general measures against market disturbance as well as measures in case of animal disease or loss of consumer confidence due to public, animal or plant health risks. It is planned that this revised agricultural policy will be in place by January 2014.
Further Eurostat information
- Agriculture and fishery statistics – Main results - 2009-2010 pocketbook
- Agriculture – Main statistics - 2008-2009 pocketbook
- Agriculture – Main statistics - 2005-2006 pocketbook
- Agriculture – Main statistics - 2007-2008 pocketbook
- Agricultural statistics – Main results - 2006-2007 pocketbook
- Agriculture, see:
- Agricultural products (t_apro)
- Crops products (t_apro_cp)
- Poultry farming (t_apro_ec)
- Milk and milk products (t_apro_mk)
- Animal production (t_apro_mt)
- Regional Agriculture Statistics (agr_r or reg_agr)
- Agriculture, see:
- Agricultural products (apro)
- Crops products (apro_cp)
- Poultry farming (apro_ec)
- Milk and milk products (apro_mk)
- Animal production (apro_mt)
Methodology / Metadata
- Crops products: areas and production (ESMS metadata file - apro_cpp_esms)
- Crops products: supply balance sheets (ESMS metadata file - apro_cpb_esms)
- Animal production (ESMS metadata file - apro_mt_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Crop statistics are governed by:
- Milk statistics are governed by:
- Livestock and meat statistics are governed by:
- Regulation 1165/2008 of 19 November 2008 concerning livestock and meat statistics and repealing Council Directives 93/23/EEC, 93/24/EEC and 93/25/EEC.
- European Commission - Agriculture and Rural Development - EU agricultural product quality policy
- European Commission - Agriculture and Rural Development - Simplification of the CAP