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Agriculture in EU-27, scenario report 2020-2030

On 11.1.21 the DG Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) of the European Commission published the report 'EU agricultural outlook for markets, income and environment, 2020-2030'. (1) A complex scenario report on the possible trends of agricultural markets in the EU-27 in the decade 2021-2030.

Agriculture in EU-27, scenario report. Data and perimeter

The EFSA and ECDC's One Health report was carried out by DG AGRI together with Joint Research Center (JRC), also taking into account European sector policies and prospective studies by FAO and OECD. The Economic Research Center of the University of Wageningen (NL) and the Thünen Institute (D) contributed to the analysis of the national apple and tomato markets.

Projections concern the European Union with 27 member states, as a result of Brexit, without providing for the entry of 5 candidates (Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Turkey). International agreements already ratified (with Japan, Canada, Vietnam, Ukraine) are considered, not even those awaiting ratification (Mercosur, Mexico).

European agriculture, challenges and opportunities

The first challenge of European agriculture is the rescue from the economic crisis triggered by Covid-19, the most serious in peacetime since the Great Depression of 1929. Olivier De Schutter - Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, former special rapporteur for the right to food, at the UN - has already highlighted the inadequacy of the social protection measures so far prepared in 208 countries. (2) The safeguarding of income in agriculture is therefore linked (in primis) a:

- effective application of EU directive 2019/633 (UTPs, Unfair Trade Practices)(3)
- transparency in the value chain, (4)
- protection of small-scale agroecology, such as recommended by the UN.

Opportunities they are first and foremost linked to the ecological transition that was promised in the EU Strategies Farm to Fork e Biodiversity (as well as in Green Deal), but deprived of resources in the (non-) reform of the CAP 2021-2027. Other opportunities are glimpsed in the digitization and especially in the blockchain, also understood as a means of promoting transparency on the value chain and therefore highlighting the social sustainability of the supply chains, as consumers themselves are also asking in Italy. (5)

Arable land left to pastures, conversion to organic less than promised

DG AGRI foresees a reduction, in the current decade, of the Utilized Agricultural Area (UAA) in the EU. In particular, a reduction in the areas devoted to cereal crops (wheat, barley) and oilseeds (sunflower, soybean, rapeseed). The improvement of crop rotation and soil treatment systems, as well as greater technical support in making decisions, should also make it possible to keep the total production of cereals in the EU stable (277 million tons). Consumption is also stable, expected to be 260 million tons.

The UAA freed from arable land for food production will probably be used for pasture and forage, maize and vegetable proteins, to meet the growing demand for feed materials. The lack of provision of specific incentives for the conversion of conventional crops to the organic system, in the CAP 2021-2027, will allow organic to barely reach 10% of the European UAA at the end of the decade. In spite of the commitments made by the Von Der Leyen Commission in the Strategy Farm to Fork (according to which organic should have covered at least 25% of the total UAA by 2030).

Vegetable protein, growth continues

EU production of vegetable proteins is expected to continue the growth already attested in the previous decade, in terms of cultivated areas and yields. Legumes grow, thanks to incentives to include peas, beans, broad beans, chickpeas, lentils in crop rotation, also in Italian. But also and above all to the rediscovery of theirs nutritional merits by consumers.

Per capita consumption could increase by as much as 50% (6,7 kg / year), between now and 2030, in the form of dry product and food ready-to-eat in the area Vegetarian e flexitarian. Between 2020 and 2030, legume crops could increase by up to 37%, also benefiting from the results of research and technological innovations that seek to improve their genetic quality to increase their yield and therefore make them more profitable.

Growing oilseeds, soybeans and sunflowers

Rapeseed it continues to lose ground, albeit at a slower rate than the previous decade (-4%, after -7% in 10 years). The areas destined to sunflowers will increase slightly (+ 1% from 2020 to 2030), those dedicated to soy more markedly (+ 13,5% in the said period). Thanks to its increasing use in crop rotation, as an alternative to rapeseed and / or sugar beet. Above all, as an alternative to GMO soy from the American continent. As well as a vegan source of protein.

The overall production of oilseeds in the EU is projected to reach 30,2 million tonnes in 2030. Thanks to the positive trend in yield, especially for soybeans, production is expected to increase from low levels in 2018-2020. The production of rapeseed, sunflower and soybeans could reach, respectively, 16 million t (-2,2% compared to 2020), 10,6 million t (+ 6,6%) and 3,5 million t (+ 26,9%) in 2030.

Sugar, at the halfway point

The infamous decision closing the large Italian sugar refineries - at the beginning of the 2000s, with European 'contributions' - has given France and Germany a solid and profitable market, especially for farmers. The European Union continues to be a net importer, although the international price of sugar is now aligned with the European one (40 euros / t). Beet growing has thus resumed growth in the old continent, with the prospect, among other things, of a higher yield per hectare (from 72 t / ha in 2018-19 to 75 t / ha in 2030).

The production levels they will reach 16,2 million tons by 2030, to the point of achieving self-sufficiency and starting exports. Thanks also to the progressive decrease in internal consumption, to be attributed to two positive factors (reduction of individual consumption, which represents 85% of the total, and its reduction in food and beverages) and a negative one (the replacement of sucrose with its poor alternatives , such as corn syrup and fructose).

Milk and dairy products

The milk production increases, in quantity, at a slower pace than in the previous decade (+ 0,6%, instead of + 1,2% / year. Up to 162 million tons, in 2030). But above all in variety, thanks to the growing attention of European consumers towards products that respect nature and animal welfare (eg organic, outdoor pasture, hay-based food without GMOs). The progressive decline in the consumption of fresh milk and the stability of yogurt are therefore accompanied by the enhancement of authentic quality products and the growing demand for alternative products, such as skyr (in addition to cream).

European cheeses will reap further success both in the European Union, where per capita consumption is gradually increasing (21,8 kg expected in 2030, 1 kg more than in 2020), and in the global market. The EU will continue to maintain control over value-added dairy products (28% in value, 49% on cheese alone, by 2030), together with the USA and New Zealand. Butter will remain stable (+ 0,3% / year in the EU) in the face of its widespread replacement with vegetable fats in the second processing industry (eg. bakery, pastry shop). However, the EU will remain a net exporter on fresh dairy products (7% by 2030).

Dairy, innovation

The innovation in the dairy sector it will be decisive. In breeding, to add value to the raw material e improve sustainability (FAO, 2019). In processing, to reduce milk loss by diverting excess raw material to the cheese supply chain.

Within the 2030 it is estimated that it will be possible to exploit the potential of whey in foods with specific purposes (eg clinical, sports, infantile). To the point of reserving a significant share (up to 62%, + 11% compared to 2020) for food destiny, instead of its traditional use as a raw material for feed.

Meat and derivatives

The consumption of meat it will continue to grow globally, at an estimated rate of + 1,1% / year, in favor of the demographic increase. In turn, European production can grow (+ 1%), provided it meets the new demands of consumers. Local origin, organic certifications, sustainable practices that respect animal welfare and the ecosystem.
Imports of non-EU meat (cattle and poultry), without considering the impact ofEU-Mercosur agreement, can reach 4 million tons / year.

Poultry it is the only area destined to grow, in Europe (+ 620 thousand t, + 4.6% by 2030), as well as globally. Pigmeat production in the EU is expected to drop by 1 million tons (-4,6%, between 2020 and 2030), even if Europe will maintain leadership in exports (38% by 2030). Beef production in the EU in turn will continue the downward curve that began in 2019 (-8,3% in 2030), in line with the decline in per capita consumption (from 10,6 to 9,7 kg, between 2020 and 2030). Less meat but better and slightly more expensive, from 2025, thanks also to a decline in supply.

Olive oil, sustainable and health-friendly

Olive oil Europe will start growing again over the next ten years. Awareness of the health benefits associated with its consumption will make domestic demand recover (+ 0,2% / year), especially in non-producing countries (26% of the EU total, compared with 20% in 2019). Production growth (+ 1,3%, by 2030) will also be supported by the increase in yields from intensive crops and super intensive of the Iberian Peninsula (+ 0,5%).

In Italy, between 2009 and 2019 the annual production of olive oil fell by 4% or more, in contrast to Spain (+ 2%) and Portugal (+ 9%). In the current decade, Italian production could resume a slight growth, thanks to more resistant replanting, but it will not be able to keep up with the Iberian competition from a quantitative point of view. Except to stand out for the sustainability and organoleptic peculiarities. Net exports of the EU, after shock of Covid-19, will increase by 5% / year to exceed 1 million t in 2030. China, Russia and Southeast Asia are the markets to look at.

Wine, bubbles and lightness

The challenge of the wine sector has to do with the changing lifestyles and preferences of young people. Wines that are lighter in alcohol and sparkling, less 'demanding' and 'for all occasions' could help slow down the decline in per capita wine consumption which is estimated to reach about 25 l / year (-0,3% average expected for the current decade, -1,1% that of the past decade).

The export - which has so far offset the decline in domestic demand, with a good rate of growth (+ 5% / year in the 2009-2019 period) - is destined to stabilize (+ 0,3% per year, up to 31 million hl in 2030) . Production will decrease slightly (-0,3% / year, towards 160 mln hl), despite the slight increase in cultivated areas (+ 0,2% / year). In view of organic production and high quality wines, with higher value and lower yield per hectare.


European apples production remains stable, 11,8 million tons by 2030. Consumption increases (15,7 kg, +1 kg compared to 2019), thanks to the growing attention to health that especially applies to organic fruit, In fact growing. The export of fresh apples, led by Poland and Italy, will decrease to stabilize at around 1,2 million tons (-19%, 2030 on 2019). In fact, Russia, the first importer, is about to reach self-sufficiency.

It decreases instead the per capita consumption of processed apples (7kg by 2030, -9%). The reduction in the consumption of industrial juices (which represent 65% of processed apples) will be partially offset by the growth of compotes and cider. The EU remains a net importer of concentrated juices.

Peaches and nectarines

Peaches and nectarines they will remain stable at production, expected to be around 3,6 million tonnes by 2030. Spain, Italy, Greece and France will continue to account for around 95% of EU production. Per capita consumption in the EU will drop to 6,2 kg (-9% between 2019, when availability was high and prices low, and 2030). The drop in consumption is driven by lesser availability and competition from other summer or tropical fruits, increasingly available also in RTE packs (Ready-To-Eat, fifth range).

Import and export basically stable, with the exception of canned peach exports which are expected to increase significantly (+ 35% by 2030), thanks to the competitiveness of the increasingly efficient Greek productions on the international market.


The oranges produced in the EU will reach 6,5 million t (+ 0,4% / year), thanks to the stabilization of the cultivated areas (after a decade of decline) and a slight increase in yields. Spain and Italy - with 52% and 28% of the fruit area in the EU, respectively (2019), will maintain leadership. Per capita consumption of fresh oranges in the EU will reach 13,2 kg by 2030. The share of European production dedicated to this, now around 80%, will rise to 83% (up to 5,4 million t, + 0,6% / year).

Imports today they represent 30% of the consumption of processed oranges and 10% of fresh ones. The decline in the former is expected (-2% / year), thanks to the growing preference for freshly squeezed juices and fresh citrus juices compared to those from concentrate. In line, among other things, with the reduction in internal demand for processed oranges, up to 7,7 kg by 2030. And the increase in imports of fresh oranges, + 1,4% per year, due to seasonality and greater summer requests.

Tomatoes and tomato preserves

Projections indicate a reduction in the overall production of fresh tomatoes in the EU over the next ten years, towards 6,2 million tonnes in 2030 (-4% compared to 2019). In fact, European producers are moving towards more profitable, small-sized varieties. More value and less volume. Vice versa, imports will increase, + 2% / year, also thanks to the competitiveness of countries such as Morocco, which already now accounts for 80% of imports (2019).

The industrial tomato, of which Italy is the leading producer, should stabilize at around 10,7 million t, slightly down from the current level (-5%) due to the reduction in cultivated areas. The import of non-EU raw materials will increase correspondingly (+ 4,5-8,5% by 2030). European production, which is expected to remain constant, is increasingly oriented towards less concentrated products with greater added value (eg passata, canned tomatoes, tomato sauces and organic products).

Dario Dongo and Giulia Orsi


(1) EC (2020). EU agricultural outlook for markets, income and environment, 2020-2030. European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, Brussels. https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/food-farming-fisheries/farming/documents/agricultural-outlook-2020-report_en.pdf. Other documents on

(2) Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (2020). Looking back to look ahead: A rights-based approach to social protection in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery. UN Human Rights Council. 11.9.20, https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Poverty/covid19.pdf

(3) Dario Dongo. Unfair commercial practices, the EU directive 2019/633. GIFTS (Great Italian Food TradAnd). 4.5.19, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/pratiche-commerciali-sleali-la-direttiva-ue-2019-633

(4) Dario Dongo. Transparency in the value chain, work in progress. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 23.3.19/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/trasparenza-nella-catena-del-valore-lavori-in-corso

(5) Marta Strinati. Food consumption in 2021, Coop-Nomisma forecasts. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.1.21/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/i-consumi-alimentari-nel-2021-le-previsioni-di-coop-nomisma

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