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Where Does Our Food Come From? Latest Report Reveals

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has plunged the world into a food crisis, with global staple food prices rising by up to 25%. At the same time, vendors and supermarkets raised food prices, regardless of whether those foods were affected by the Russian war. Add this to the economic crisis that the pandemic created, and the public became confused and insecure about the future. In this, UTP has decided to bring some light to the public by providing a thorough report on agricultural production and exports. The study aims to empower the public with data that shows where our food comes from. Since we live in a globalized world today, we add export value and volume to show how dependent the world is on a particular country’s agricultural production.

(Also Read: Reducing Consumer Food Waste Could Save $300 Billion Annually By 2030)

Food Safety 620

One of the main concerns of food security is where our food comes from.

The report shows that the United States is among the largest producers and exporters of numerous staple foods. This indicates that, regardless of global price increases for staple foods such as wheat, corn, potatoes, and sunflower seeds, food security in the United States should not be a major concern (although prices may increase due to global inflation).

At the same time, since a major bread basket region (Russia and Ukraine together) cannot grow or export any food, the world will look to other exporting countries to fill the gap. Because the United States is the world’s largest food exporter, farmers who grow their crops for export may experience increased sales prices. However, as transportation costs increase similarly, price increases may or may not translate into more profits.

Top Agricultural Products by Country: Mapped

Although agriculture developed all over the world, different crops developed in different regions. However, globalization has seen changes in the cultivation and export of food worldwide. According to a 2016 study, more than two-thirds of agricultural products for national food worldwide originate from remote areas. This trend has accelerated with the rise of technology in agriculture over the past 50 years.

For example, tomatoes originate from the Andes (Latin America), yet, they are a staple in many cuisines around the world. Today, the largest tomato producing countries are China, India and Turkey. At the same time, the Netherlands (a country far from the Andes) is the largest exporter of tomatoes.

Another example is wheat, which was originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and central and western Asia. Today, wheat is produced in more than 100 countries worldwide and ranks as the largest agricultural commodity for more than 14 countries.

(Also Read: Wheat, One Of The World’s Most Important Crops, Threatened By Climate Change)

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Wheat is the largest agricultural commodity.

As we can see, the origin of food plays a small role in the food we get on our table. Today, countries around the world have domesticated crops from distant regions that have directly contributed to food security for communities worldwide. However, as crops reach the international stage, do we know which agricultural products are produced the most? Jump to the next section to find out.

Doubling crop production is a risky move. Still, because war could affect the food security of more than 1.7 billion people worldwide, it’s a risk worth taking, especially from the United States, one of the world’s largest food producers and exporters.

7 most produced agricultural products worldwide

Over the past two decades, global grain production has increased by 53%, reaching a record high of 9.8 billion tons in 2020. Although many agricultural products are produced worldwide, in 2019, only four crops account for half of the world’s agricultural production.

Sugarcane tops the list, accounting for 21% of total production. It is followed by maize with 12% and rice and wheat with 8%.

Below are the seven most cultivated agricultural products around the world:

  1. cow’s milk
  2. sugarcane
  3. corn
  4. wheat
  5. Rice, rice
  6. potatoes

7 largest producing countries of agricultural products

In 2020, half of global agricultural production came from Asia, while Europe collected one-tenth of the world’s agricultural production.

North America produced 826.9 million tons of agricultural products or about 8.5% of the world’s total. Below we list the seven largest global agricultural producers.

  1. China
  2. United States
  3. Russia
  4. Brazil
  5. India
  6. spain
  7. Ukraine

What are the most exported agricultural products worldwide?

Thanks to globalization, today’s countries can exchange goods and close the gap in their agricultural production.

Like other industries, global trade in agriculture is growing rapidly, with agriculture’s share of total GDP increasing by 40% compared to 30 years ago.

At the same time, we are witnessing a shift in export patterns, making developing countries the main global export players for agriculture. These economies have also increased their production capacity, meaning they rely less on food imports.

Top 5 Most Exported Agricultural Products

Currently, the most exported agricultural products worldwide are wheat, rice, soybeans, maize, barley, rapeseed, palm oil, sunflower seeds and bananas.

In 2020, total exported wheat amounted to more than 198.5 million tons, which is a quarter of global wheat production. The largest grain exporter was Russia, followed by the United States and Canada.

Soybeans are another major agricultural export in the world. In 2020, total soybean exports reached 173.3 million tons with a market value of US$64.1 billion. The largest exporters of soybeans were Brazil and the United States.

(Also Read: 8 Ways We Can Change Policy & Make Agriculture Smarter)

Soybean

After wheat, soybeans are also exported in large quantities.

The export market value of corn for 2020 was $36.7 billion. The top three exporters were the United States, Argentina and Brazil.

Rapeseed (canola) also tops the list of agricultural exports. In 2020, more than 25.1 million tons of rapeseed were exported worldwide, most of which came from Canada.

The leading country in global commodity exports

As some countries become global players in food exports, other countries become heavily dependent on trade with that country.

The leading countries in global commodity exports are:

  1. United States
  2. The Netherlands
  3. Brazil
  4. China
  5. Germany

What next?

The war is affecting the price of fertilizers, which are important in agricultural production. Ukraine, Russia and Belarus (a close ally of Russia) are the world’s largest producers of crop fertilizers. Furthermore, the war halted fertilizer production in Ukraine, while sanctions on Russia and Belarus exacerbated the supply crisis and sent prices skyrocketing.

This could create a domino effect on global food production as it would increase production costs for farmers. As such, the Biden administration’s decision to invest $500 million in food fertilizer production is seen as a move that will help reduce food production costs not only in the United States, but around the world. Thus, countries such as Brazil that relied heavily on fertilizers from Ukraine could continue to grow their crops without a significant increase in production costs.

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are the personal views of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The facts, information or opinions contained in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for it.


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