Sugar beet harvest in Europe down

In 2018, sugar beet yields were lower in nearly all countries of the EU-28 than one year previously. In the Netherlands, the yield per hectare was down by 18 percent. Spain had the highest yield per hectare, which was hardly any lower than in 2017. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on the latest agricultural output figures from Eurostat.

The dry summer of 2018 had a relatively large impact on arable crop yields in the Netherlands. Was this also the case in the rest of the 28 countries of the European Union? An example of a crop which allows for proper comparison between the countries of the EU is the sugar beet.

Sugar beet yield per hectare, 2018 (1,000 kg)
LandYield per hectare
Spain86.7
Belgium82.8
France81.6
Netherlands76.4
United Kingdom69.3
Austria68.8
European Union*69.1
Germany63.3
Portugal61.8
Denmark61.5
Slovakia59.9
Hungary59.3
Czech Republic57.5
Greece57.5
Lithuania57.2
Italy*56.4
Sweden55.3
Croatia54.8
Poland50.7
Romania38.5
Finland36.3
Source: CBS, Eurostat
*Calculated on the basis of figures on production and area

Highest yield per hectare in Spain

In nearly all 28 EU countries, sugar beet yields per hectare were down in 2018. The average yield across the EU amounted to 69.1 thousand kg per hectare, 15.2 percent less than in 2017. Spain was the EU country with the highest yield. On average, almost 87 tonnes (-3.5 percent) of sugar beets were harvested per hectare there last year. With 76.4 tonnes per hectare, the Netherlands performed better than most countries in Europe, although the yield was 18 percent down relative to 2017.

Polish and German arable farmers achieved the lowest results compared to other European countries: 50.7 and 63.3 thousand kg per hectare respectively (both down by around 25 percent year-on-year). The decline in yield in countries such as Spain (-3.5 percent) and Greece (-2.7 percent) was less substantial.

Change in sugar beet yield per hectare, 2018 relative to 2017 (% change)
 Sugar beet yield
Poland-25.3
Germany-24.4
Netherlands-18.1
Croatia-17.3
Europese Unie-15.2
France-14.3
Denmark-13.9
United Kingdom-13.7
Czech Republic-13.6
Belgium-12.9
Italy-12.7
Sweden-12.5
Romania-7.5
Hungary-5.6
Spain-3.5
Greece-2.7
Austria-1.9
Finland-0.8
Portugal0.0
Lithuania2.5
Slovakia8.9
Bulgaria
Cyprus
Estonia
Ireland
Latvia
Luxembourg
Malta
Slovenia
Source: CBS, Eurostat.
For Croatia, Italy and the EU, the yield per hectare has been calculated by dividing (total) production by total (area).

France largest sugar beet producer in Europe

In 2018, the total sugar beet harvest in the EU amounted to nearly 120 billion kg, over 23 billion kg less than one year previously. The largest producer in Europe is France with 39.6 billion kg. The Netherlands ranks fifth with a production of 6.5 billion kg; Spanish arable farmers harvested 3 billion kg of sugar beets.

Sugar beet harvest, 2018 (bn kg)
LandProduction
France39.58
Germany26.19
Poland14.30
United Kingdom7.62
Netherlands6.51
Belgium5.19
Czech Republic3.72
Spain3.06
Austria2.15
Denmark2.11
Italy1.94
Sweden1.70
Slovakia1.31
Hungary0.94
Romania0.94
Lithuania0.89
Croatia0.77
Greece0.40
Finland0.36
Portugal0.01
Source: CBS, Eurostat

Largest sugar beet area in France

In 2018, sugar beets were cultivated on 1.73 million hectares of land in the EU-28. With an area of 490 thousand hectares, France also had the largest cultivation area for sugar beets. Last year, France contributed 28 percent of the total EU crop production area. The second-largest producer was Germany with 414 thousand hectares. Both countries occupied more than half of the sugar beet production area in the EU, while the Netherlands contributed 5 percent.

Relatively large area in the Netherlands

In 2017, the Netherlands had relatively the largest sugar beet cultivation area within the EU. Sugar beets were grown on nearly 5 percent of the total Dutch agricultural area. The relative importance of sugar beets for agriculture is therefore higher in the Netherlands than in other EU countries. On average, sugar beet cultivation in the EU (excluding Italy) accounted for 1 percent of its total agricultural area. Germany and France, the most important European countries in this respect, occupied shares of 2.4 and 1.7 percent respectively. In Spain, only 0.2 percent of the total agricultural area was used for sugar beet cultivation.

Sugar beet share in total agricultural area, 2017 (%)
 Sugar beet area
Netherlands4.8
Belgium4.7
Germany2.4
Czech Republic1.9
France1.7
Austria1.6
Poland1.6
Denmark1.3
Croatia1.3
Slovakia1.2
Sweden1.0
Europese Unie1.0
United Kingdom0.6
Lithuania0.6
Finland0.5
Hungary0.3
Romania0.2
Spain0.2
Greece0.1
Portugal0.0
Bulgaria
Cyprus
Estonia
Ireland
Latvia
Luxembourg
Malta
Slovenia
Source: CBS, Eurostat.
EU-28, excluding Italy.