Markets

Although global trade in agricultural products has increased, much of the food produced within countries is consumed domestically. Regions with the highest populations are experiencing the greatest degree of climate change pressures and have the least integrated regional markets.

This section presents selected data on key trends in global markets:

  1. Data on farm and holding size
  2. Data on production by farm size
  3. Trends in global food trade
  4. Spatial patterns of food trade
  5. Shares and trends in food retail
  6. Investments in agriculture

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Land & Holding Size

Over 80% of global land holdings are less than 2 ha, with low-income regions having a higher percentage of small farms.

Source: HLPE, C., 2013. Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security.

Agricultural Land by Population

Rural population dynamics are strongly linked with average farm sizes. South Asia is already experiencing extreme land scarcity, with projections set to increase dramatically for sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: FAO. 2018. The State of Food and Agriculture 2018. Migration, agriculture and rural development. Rome. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

Agricultural Holdings & Agricultural Area

Within Africa, the highest share of agricultural holdings is for holdings <1 ha in size – 53.4% of Africa’s farming is on 11% of the agricultural area.

Source: HLPE, C., 2013. Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security.

Food Production by Farm Size

Globally, farms <50 ha produce between 51-77% of the major food groups for human consumption (by volume) – however, there are significant regional differences between farm size and food produced.

Source: Herrero, M., Thornton, P.K., Power, B., Bogard, J.R., Remans, R., Fritz, S., Gerber, J.S., Nelson, G., See, L., Waha, K. and Watson, R.A., 2017. Farming and the geography of nutrient production for human use: a transdisciplinary analysis. The Lancet Planetary Health1(1), pp.e33-e42.

Agricultural Trade Volume

International trade in agricultural products have been on the rise, except for the slumps during the global financial crisis of 2008-09.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

Regional Agricultural Trade Volume

Despite increase in trade, most of the food consumed in a country is produced domestically – net imports are in range of 0-20% of domestic food supply in many instances.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

Agricultural Trade Volume

Growth of trade volumes is expected to slow in the next 10 years, consistent with the slower growth of demand. However, the importance of trade differs by commodity.

Source: OECD/FAO (2018), OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2018-2027, OECD Publishing, Paris/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

Share of Food Retail Trade

In much of Asia, most food purchases in urban areas are made in supermarkets. Hypermarkets, large supermarkets and convenience stores account for 93% of purchases in North America.

Source: FAO. 2017. The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome.

Products, markets & investments

Domestic investors invest more in food crops for domestic markets.

Source: International Food Policy Research Institute. 2018. 2018 Global Food Policy Report. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.

Net Food Imports

Countries with high population growth, and greatest effects of climate change import the most food as part of their domestic food supply.

Source: Bendjebbar Pauline, Bricas Nicolas, Giordano Thierry, 2019. Food systems at risk. A scientific handout for the High Level Event of the Global Network against Food Crises: Food & Agriculture in times of crisis, Brussels, 2-3 April 2019. 48 p.