In this article, a spokesperson for the University of the Potomac discussed the top five most exported agricultural goods.
Today, some of the most exported agricultural products globally are wheat, rice, soybeans, corn, barley, rapeseed, palm oil, sunflower seeds, and bananas.
In 2020, the total exported quantities of wheat reached over 198.5 million tons, a quarter of total global wheat production.
The largest exporter of grain was Russia (37.2 million tons), followed by the United States (26.1 million tons) and Canada (26.1 million tons).
Soybean is another major exported agricultural commodity in the world. In 2020, the total export quantity of soybeans reached 173.3 million tons with a market value of 64.1 billion US dollars.
The biggest exporters of soybeans were Brazil with 82.9 million tons, the United States with 64.5 million tons, and Paraguay with 6.6 million tons.
Corn, a staple food in many countries worldwide, is an essential commodity for international trade, whose export market value for 2020 was $36.7 billion.
The top three exporters of corn were the United States, with 51.8 million tons of corn exported; Argentina, with 36.8 million tons; and Brazil, with 34.4 million tons.
Rapeseed also is at the top of the list of agricultural exports. In 2020, over 25.1 million tons of rapeseed were exported worldwide.
Most of the exported rapeseed came from Canada, which exported 11.7 million tons, followed by Ukraine with 2.3 million tons, and the Netherlands with 1.9 million tons.
Leading countries in the global export of crops and livestock
It is no surprise that the largest countries in the world are among the biggest producers of agricultural products.
However, for countries like China, India, and Brazil, much of its output is dedicated to feeding their population, which means a smaller amount is exported worldwide.
Yet, with the investments in agriculture technologies in the past decades, these countries are increasing their production capacities, allowing them to ship more agri products to the global market.
As some nations become global players in food export, other countries become heavily dependent on trade with those countries.
However, when the exporting countries have a low democracy index, exchanging goods with them becomes a risky move.
A shift in the policies, laws and government in these low democratic-ranking countries would sprawl a food crisis among the nations that rely heavily on those exports.
1. The United States
For the longest time, the United States has been the world’s largest agricultural exporter.
The position is thanks to the technological advances in the past few decades and that the US has a 0.811 democracy index, meaning that it is less risky for countries to rely on trade with the US.
In 2020, US agricultural exports were valued at $147.9 billion.
The US has a large assortment of agricultural products that exports, starting from corn (which they are the global export leader) to fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
In 2020, soybeans were the highest value exported goods for the United States, which reached an export value of $25.8 billion.
Corn and wheat are other high-value exports for the US, which accounted for $9.5 billion and $6.3 billion of total value agricultural exports.
Other highly exported agricultural goods in 2020 include:
- Rice (1.3 million tons);
- Chicken meat (3.5 million tons);
- Sorghum (6.5 million tons);
- Apples (808.1 thousand tons).
2. The Netherlands
Though the Netherlands is a much smaller country than the US (it ranks as the sixth-smallest country in the EU), it has become the largest exporter of agricultural products.
In 2020, the total value of agricultural exports was $100.8 billion, increasing by $3.4 billion from the previous year.
Much of the Netherlands’ rise as a global agricultural exporter is attributed to its rich soil, enormous investments in farming technology and ports being a central trade hub for Europe.
In the same year, the Netherlands was the largest exporter of eggs (415.3 thousand tons) and onions (1.7 million tons).
- Rapeseed (1.9 million tons);
- Palm oil (1.2 million tons);
- Avocados (375.6 thousand tons);
- Chillies and peppers (467.4 thousand tons).
It is no surprise that one of the world’s largest Agri producers also leads in the export.
In 2020, Brazil’s agricultural exports reached $85.1 billion, a 6% jump from the previous year.
In 2020 Brazil exported over 82.9 million tons of soybeans, or about half of the global soybeans trade. It is also a lead exporter of coffee, accounting for 30% of global exports of coffee.
In 2020, its coffee export held a value of $4.9 billion. It also exported about 18% of the world’s corn, with $5.8 billion worth in trade.
In the same year, Brazil ranked as the second-largest exporter of rice (518.4 thousand tons) and the third-largest exporter of mangoes (243.4 million tons).
Yet, Brazil has a 0.599 democracy rank, identifying its underdeveloped political culture as a risk factor for other nations that trade with Brazil.
Though most of China’s agricultural production feeds its population, this country continues to be among the largest agricultural exporters, with $67.2 billion worth of agricultural goods exported in 2020.
Food preparation materials and crude materials account for about one-fifth of their total export, with over $10.2 billion in market value.
In 2020, it exported about 5% of the globally traded rice, with over 2.2 million tons shipped worldwide.
Moreover, China is a notable exporter of fruits and vegetables, such as:
- Apples (1.1 million tons);
- Pears (539.4 thousand tons);
- Grapes (424.9 thousand tons);
- Spinach (60.7 thousand tons;
- Carrots (749.8 thousand tons);
- Leeks (70.2 thousand tons).
Though the world relies heavily on exports from China, its democracy index of 0.048 shows that its autocratic regime can be a considerable risk factor for other countries.
It means that with a slight shift in its policies and the lack of free speech to object to it, China’s political environment can hinder trade with other nations, thus creating a food crisis.
Germany, a world economic power, is also among the largest global agricultural exporters, with over $79.5 billion worth of agricultural exports in 2020.
In 2020, Germany ranked as the world’s largest exporter of cow milk, sugar beets, and hops. Together, they hold a market value of $1.1 billion.
In fact, over one-sixth of traded cow milk comes from Germany. Meanwhile, its sugar beet trade accounts for over two-thirds (37.8%) of the global export of sugar beets.
Germany is also the second-largest exporter of rye, exporting 265.2 thousand tons in 2020. This accounted for 11.8% of the total rye trade in the world.
After its EU companion France and the Netherlands, Germany ranks as the third-largest exporter of potatoes globally.
It exported 1.9 million tons of potatoes in 2020, about one-sixth of the total trade of potatoes.
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