BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Global food consumption has been growing at a faster pace than world population, due to income growth and changes in consumer preferences. According to the European Commission’s ‘Global food supply and demand, consumer trends and trade challenges’ market brief, these developments have resulted in a consumption increase of products of higher value in emerging economies. At the same time, societal and environmental concerns in developed economies are seen influencing consumer preferences.
Regarding wheat, the E.U. is the second largest global user with around 250 kg per capita, after the Black Sea region. E.U. consumption has been growing steadily over time, driven mainly by the development of the livestock sector due to the use of wheat in animal feed. Four regions supply the world with wheat: the E.U., the Black Sea region, North America and Oceania. The E.U. is a major wheat exporter, trading up to 20% of its use.
The brief said North America is by far the largest user of maize, reaching almost 900 kg per capita, significantly above use in South America at 240 kg per capita and the E.U. at 140 kg per capita. The substantial global increase in maize is linked to the expansion of livestock production and more recently to the production of maize-based ethanol.
With almost 15% of global maize production traded, the main suppliers are South and North America followed by the Black Sea region. In contrast, the E.U. is the biggest maize importer, with close to 25 million tonnes of imported maize in 2018-19.
As soybean is a crop mainly produced and traded by the Americas, it represents 82% of production. At a global level, two thirds of availability are crushed into meals to be used in feed. The E.U. is the main destination market for soy meals, representing 30% of world trade. However, E.U. import needs are declining by using alternative sources such as cereals and more recently pulses.