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Commodities: 7 largest producing countries

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In this article, a spokesperson for the University of the Potomac lists the seven largest producing countries of agricultural commodities.

In 2020, half of the global agricultural production came from Asia, with economies such as China and India being key players in the world’s sphere. Europe harvested one-tenth of the world’s agricultural production, with Russia, Ukraine, Spain, and Germany among the biggest producers.

At the same time, North America produced 826.9 million tons of agricultural products or about 8.5% of the world’s aggregate output. South America supplied one-sixth of the world’s agricultural output, mainly coming from Brazil and Argentina.

To examine in more detail which countries produce most of our food, below we listed the seven largest global agricultural producers.

China

China is one of the largest agricultural producers in the world, with agricultural production of $1.1 trillion in 2020—a record high.

Much of its success in agriculture comes from its vast geographical land, rich soil, and a large workforce. With less than 10% of the world’s arable land, China produces 25% of the world’s grain, making it a critical player in global food security.

In 2020, China was the lead producer of over 30 crops, including wheat, rice, tomatoes, and potatoes. Rice was the most produced crop in China, which reached a value of 353.1 million tons in total.

While in that year, China grew over 134.2 million tons of wheat. In global trade, its wheat production is valued at $53.4 billion.

China is also the top producer of potatoes (78.1 million tons), tomatoes (64.7 million tons), cucumbers (72.7 million tons), and spinach (28.5 million tons).

Thanks to its rich soil, which makes harvesting more productive, China also ranks as the second-largest producer in the world for:

  • Corn (260.6 million tons)
  • Chicken (15.1 million tons)
  • Bananas (11.5 million tons)
  • Rapeseed (14 million tons)
United States

For the longest time, the United States has been a significant player in agricultural production. This is thanks to its land composition, natural resources, and technological advances.

In 2020 the US agricultural production accounted for $134.7 billion, about 0.6% of its national GDP.

In 2020, the United States was the world’s largest producer of corn (360.2 million tons), harvesting about one-third of global production. It also produces over half of the global almond output and over one-third of global blueberry production.

The United States ranks as the top producer of cow milk (101.2 million tons), chicken (20.4 million tons), meat (12.3 million tons), and sorghum (9.4 million tons).

Also, the US is the second-largest producer in the world for:

  • Soybeans (112.5 million tons)
  • Sugar beet (30.4 million tons)
  • Pig meat (12.8 million tons)
  • Apples (4.6 million tons)
Russia

Over the past 20 years, Russia’s agricultural industry has been rapidly growing, with its production value increasing from $10 billion in 2000 to $85.5 billion in 2020.

Thanks to the investments and technological developments, its cereal output turned Russia into a global player in food production, feeding over 2 billion people worldwide.

Today, Russia is the world’s largest producer of barley and sugar beets accounting for 13% and 14% of the world’s total production, respectively. Russia also cultivates over a third of global sunflower seeds production and one-sixth of oats output.

Plus, Russia is the third-largest producer of wheat and rye. In 2020 alone, it produced over 85.8 million tons of grain and 2.3 million tons of rye.

Brazil

Thanks to the rising global demands, technological advancement, and increasing prices, Brazil’s agricultural industry has been accelerating fast.

In 2020, its agricultural production value reached $85 billion, a 30.4% increase from 2019. To catch up with the rapid growth, Brazil is expanding its agricultural land, which in 2020 was about one-third of Brazil’s total area. The expansion constitutes a 22% increase from 9 years ago.

Brazil is known for its production of grains, cereals, beans, and oilseeds.

In 2020, Brazil produced one-third of the world’s production of soybeans (121.7 million tons), coffees (3.7 million tons), and oranges (16.7 million tons).

About half of global sugarcane production (40.5%) comes from Brazil, along with one-sixth of the worldwide meat production.

It is also the third-largest producer of corn (103.9 million tons), cow milk (36.5 million tons), and chicken (13.7 million tons).

5. India

In 2016, the agriculture sector accounted for 23% of the country’s GDP, and 59% of the workforce made a living from agriculture.

The agricultural industry is essential for India’s food and security as it is estimated that 70% of the rural population depends mainly on agriculture.

In 2020, India produced half of the world’s mango production (24.7 million tons) and 20% of global wheat production (107.5 million tons). A quarter of the global output of rice (178.3 million tons), sugar cane (370,5 million tons), and bananas (31.5 million tons) came from India.

India also ranks as the second-largest producer of:

  • Milk (87.8 million tons)
  • Tomatoes (20.5 million tons)
  • Potatoes (51.3 million tons)
  • Oranges (9.8 million tons)
Spain

With favourable climate conditions and long history of agriculture cultivation, Spain continues to be a leading European producer, offering a vast array of agricultural products.

In 2020, the value of agricultural production in Spain was $54.4 billion, a 3.5% share of the country’s GDP.

Spain is well known for its vegetables and fruits. In 2020, over one-third of agricultural output came from vegetable and fruit cultivation.

Spain is also the world’s top producer of olives, with over 8.1 million tons of olives produced in 2020, accounting for 39.1% of total production.

Also, it is the second-largest producer of barley (11.4 million tons) and peaches (1.3 million tons). It also produced one-tenth of the world’s almonds, reaching a market value of $507.6 million.

Grape cultivation in Spain is a tradition that today supplies the market with 6.8 million tons. This makes Spain the third-largest producer of grapes globally.

7. Ukraine

Today, Ukraine is an agricultural superpower, which plants over two-thirds of its agricultural land, an area larger than New Mexico.

The growth of Ukraine’s agriculture is partly due to its rich fertilized soil and modernization efforts in the past decades.

In 2020, Ukraine was among the world’s largest producers of wheat, corn, sunflower seeds, barley, sugar beets, potatoes, and soybeans. Together, the production of these crops in Ukraine holds a market value of $21.4 billion.

Ukraine is the biggest producer of sunflower seeds (13.1 million tons), harvesting over a quarter of the global sunflower production. That is why since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, the price of sunflower oil has increased by 25%.

Considered one of Europe’s major breadbasket regions, Ukraine produces over 30.2 million tons of corn, 24.9 million tons of wheat, and 7.6 million tons of barley.

Together these three crops account for $10.9 billion in the market. Besides, Ukraine is also the world’s third-largest producer of potatoes and pumpkins, with about 21 million tons and 1.3 million tons produced in 2020.

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