Agricultural income further up in 2023

© Hollandse Hoogte / Kees van de Veen
In 2023, the Dutch agricultural sector generated 6.7 percent more income relative to the previous year. Animal output decreased slightly (-0.7 percent), while crop production saw a relatively sharp contraction at 3.3 percent. Output prices rose on average, with costs falling at the same time. This is evident from the initial estimate of agricultural income over 2023, conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and Wageningen Economic Research.

Agricultural output, income, labour and prices
JaartalConsumption price (2015=100)Output price (2015=100)Income (2015=100)Labour volume (2015=100)Output volume (2015=100)
*Provisional figures

This year’s agricultural output (volume) is 2.1 percent lower than in the previous year. Both livestock and arable farming had a slight drop in output, while horticulture showed a more pronounced decline. Due to slightly increased average output prices (+1.4 percent), the gross output value fell by 0.7 percent to 35.8 billion euros.

The value of goods and services required for the agricultural output (i.e., intermediate consumption decreased by 5.1 percent year on year. Despite the slightly lower output value, margins increased as costs fell relatively more sharply. The agricultural sector thus recorded an income increase of 6.7 percent on balance.

The agricultural labour volume showed a 1.9-percent rise relative to 2022. After adjusting for inflation (7.9 percent in 2023), agricultural income per annual work unit (AWU) fell by 2.9 percent.

In 2023, lower costs of fertilisers, compound feed and energy

The costs of fertilisers, energy and compound feed in particular were lower in 2023 than in the previous year. Prices of gas and electricity are still at a high level, despite an almost 20-percent drop this year. In 2022, these prices still surged by over 200 percent, triggered by the war in Ukraine and the ban on Russian gas imports.

Lower animal output value partly due to lower milk price

In 2023, animal output (volume) fell slightly relative to 2022 and there was a drop in the average output price of 3.4 percent. Animal output value decreased by 4 percent.

The price of milk dropped by 18.4 percent year on year; milk production went up by 2.4 percent. This volume increase mainly took place at the beginning of this year. European dairy prices were still at a high level, while the rising price of raw milk outweighed the higher costs of compound feed. As a result of falling dairy prices, milk production dropped sharply later in the year. Milk output value, which accounts for half of the output value in livestock farming, dropped slightly below 6.5 billion euros.

Slimming pig herd

In 2023, livestock farmers supplied more cattle, but fewer pigs and less poultry to the slaughterhouses. This resulted in a decrease in the output volume of livestock.

Just as in the Netherlands, pig herds declined in many EU countries, due in part to raised animal welfare and environmental standards, causing a drop in the output volume of pig farming. Due to tighter supply, pig prices went up by 30.8 percent.

Changes in price and volume of agricultural products, 2023*
Prijs- en volumemutatie 2021Change in price (year-on-year % change)Change in volume (year-on-year % change)
Forage crops18.40.6
Fresh vegetables11.2-3.0
Plants and flowers4.7-5.2
Sugar beet2.7-5.0
Cereals (incl. seed)-32.6-5.6
*Provisional figures

Smaller arable land area for potatoes and sugar beet

Output (volume) in the arable sector fell by 3.3 percent in 2023 relative to the previous year. Average output prices in arable farming rose by 7.6 percent, driving up the gross output value to 16.8 billion euros.

The potato and sugar beet areas contracted in size, resulting in lower crop output. Despite an increase in the area under cereals, the wet spring led to a lower output volume of cereal crops.

Cereal prices were up sharply in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine, but declined again (by 32.5 percent) this year. Prices of other arable crops were up; for example, onions, potatoes and forage crops all became much more expensive.

Drops in ornamental horticulture and vegetable farming

In 2023, ornamental horticulture had 5.2 percent lower output. This sector accounts for almost half of the arable sector's gross output value.
Greenhouse horticulture was still affected by the surging energy prices following the import ban on Russian gas introduced last year due to the invasion of Ukraine. Similar to 2022, this led to partially empty greenhouses among several producers of flowers under glass.

Prices of floricultural products rose by 4.7 percent due to this year’s increased demand for flowers. In 2022, consumers bought fewer flowers, pushing prices down.

The output value of fresh vegetables rose by 7.9 percent. Vegetable farmers saw their output decline by 3 percent. Aside from high energy prices, diseases significantly affected the output of vegetables under glass. This decline was offset by higher output prices of fresh vegetables (+11.2 percent).