Food for thought: dietary and health trends in the Netherlands

03/12/2012 15:00
  • 2000-2011: 28 percent fewer farms, production value 28 percent up
  • Food products account for 14 billion euro trade surplus in 2011
  • Food sector: 4.6 thousand companies and 139 thousand jobs
  • Supermarkets receive 77 cents of every euro spent on food
  • Over one quarter of Dutch food budget spent on meat and fish
  • Around 400 thousand children in the Netherlands are overweight, 85 thousand are obese
  • In 2011, 15.5 percent of 65-75 year-olds had diabetes, compared with 10.6 percent in 2001

These are just some findings in the book Food for thought: dietary and health trends in the Netherlands, published today by Statistics Netherlands, and available in English.

Fewer agricultural and horticultural enterprises

The number of farms and horticultural businesses in the Netherlands fell by 28 percent in the period 2000-2011. At the same time the production value of agriculture rose by 28 percent. This increase was mostly the result of higher prices (+17 percent), but the volume of production also rose (+9 percent). The production increased in spite of the fact that the area of land used for agriculture shrank by more than 115 thousand hectares (-6 percent).

Food: 14 billion euro trade surplus

International trade in foodstuffs generated a trade surplus of 14 billion euro in 2011. In 2000 this surplus was 10 billion euro. Trade in dairy products, meat, processed foodstuffs, fruit and vegetables contributed especially strongly to the trade surplus. Most of the food imported into the Netherlands comes from within the European Union. The share coming from outside the EU did rise slightly between 2000 and 2011, from 34 to .36 percent.

Work in the food sector

More than 4.6 thousand companies are active in the Dutch food sector in 2012. This is the equivalent of 9 percent of all manufacturing companies. The sector counted 139 thousand jobs in 2011, 16 percent of manufacturing jobs. Indeed, accounting for 20 percent of manufacturing value added, the food sector is a relatively productive branch of industry.

Supermarkets ousting specialist shops

Dutch consumers are buying more and more of their food in supermarkets: 77 cents of every euro they spend on food ends up in a supermarket till. Bakers, butchers and greengrocers have increasingly disappeared from the Dutch high street in recent years.

Most money spent on meat and fish

Today, the largest share of the Dutch household food budget is spent on meat and fish: around 26 cents of every euro spent on food. Bread and cereals account for 21 percent, followed by spending on potatoes, fruit and vegetables (19 percent) and dairy products (14 percent). About 10 percent of the food budget is spent on spices, sauces and ready meals.

Six million Dutch people overweight

With the rise in affluence, overeating is increasingly becoming a problem. In 2011, around 6 million people in the Netherlands were overweight or obese. More than half of adult men (54 percent) weigh too much, for women this is  43 percent. These are considerably higher percentages than twenty years ago, when they were 39 and 31 respectively. One disease closely related to obesity is diabetes. In 2011, 4.7 percent of the population had diabetes, nearly twice as many as the 2.8 percent in 2001.

ISBN: 978-90-357-2072-5 .
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