Commodities

Ag commodities: Top 6 across the globe

In this article, a spokesperson for the University of the Potomac lists the top six most commonly produced ag commodities worldwide.

In the last two decades, the production of crops worldwide increased by over 53%, reaching a record high of 9.8 billion tons in 2020.

While a plethora of agricultural commodities are produced worldwide, in 2019, only four crops account for half of the world’s agricultural production.

Sugar cane tops the list with 1.9 billion tons, accounting for 21% of the total output. It is followed by corn with 1.1 billion tons (12%) and rice and wheat with 0.8 billion tons (8%) each.

Now, let us explore the top 6 agricultural products that are most commonly cultivated in countries around the world.

Milk, whole fresh cow

Milk is one of the most commonly cultivated agricultural commodities in the world.

Today, 37 countries have cow milk as their top agricultural product. Germany is one of the biggest milk producers, with over 33 million tons of milk produced every year. In monetary terms, this adds to 12.9 billion US dollars.

New Zealand is another big cow milk producer. It produces 21.9 million tons of milk every year, reaching a market value of $7.8 billion.

Other key producers of cow milk include the United Kingdom (15.5 million tons), Netherlands (14,5 million tons) and Poland (14,8 million tons).

Italy (12.7 million tons), is another as are Uzbekistan (10.9 million tons), and Ireland (8.5 million tons).

Sugar cane

While sugarcane originated in South and Southeast Asia, today, it is commonly used in various regions worldwide. 37 countries account for sugar cane as their top production crop.

Even though countries like Thailand, Pakistan, and Australia (where the sugarcane originates) top the list in sugarcane production, the subtropical climate of South America and Africa creates a perfect environment for sugarcane production.

For example, Latin American countries such as Columbia (24.6 million tons), Cuba (13.8 million tons), Ecuador (11.1 million tons), and Bolivia (10.9 million tons) are big players in sugarcane production.

Alongside, in 2020 Mexico produced over 53.9 million tons of sugarcane, accounting for $2.4 billion in trade.

At the same time, African countries produced over 5% of total sugarcane in 2020. South Africa (18.2 million tons), Egypt (14.9 million tons), and Kenya (6.7 million tons) are the primary producers.

Corn

Corn is the most produced cereal globally, with over 1.1 billion tons produced in 2020. What led corn to become a widely cultivated crop is its easiness of cultivation, drying, storing, and transport.

Though it was first cultivated in Central America and Mexico, today, corn is grown in all continents, excluding Antarctica.

In 2020, over 165 countries produced corn, with 16 listing corn as their most cultivated harvest.

The United States is currently the top producer of corn, with over 360 million tons produced, holding a market value of $52.4 billion.

It is followed by China, which in 2020 had 260.8 million tons of corn. From the other side of the world, Brazil harvested over 103.9 million tons of corn, ranking as the world’s third-largest producer.

Together, these three countries produced about two-thirds of the world’s corn.

Ukraine, another big player in corn production, cultivated over 30.2 million tons, valued at $5.2 billion in trade.

Its neighbour Russia lists corn as their most produced agricultural product, with 13.8 million tons produced in 2020.

However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February put a halt to agriculture in Ukraine.

At the same time, countries around the world are shutting off trade with Russia. This disruption made the price of corn jump by 19.1% in March 2022 compared to the previous month.

Wheat

Since it was first domesticated in 9,600 BC, wheat has played a key role in food and nutritional security worldwide.

Today, after corn, wheat is the most produced agricultural product globally, with over 760.9 million tons of wheat cultivated in 2020.

Its favourable cultivating conditions allowed wheat to become a crash crop for countries in every direction.

In 2020, wheat was grown by 126 countries worldwide. 13 of them had wheat as their most produced crop, including Russia, France, and Canada.

China is the world’s biggest wheat producer, with over 134.2 million tons of wheat produced in 2020, holding a $53.4 billion value in global trade. India is the second-largest producer, with over 107.5 million tons of wheat cultivated.

Russia, the third-largest wheat producer, harvested over 85.8 million tons of wheat.

At the same time, its neighbour Ukraine is the 8th largest producer globally, with 24.9 million tons of wheat cultivated.

Together, they account for about 30% of the global wheat trade, making the region one of the major breadbasket regions.

Because of the region’s significance in wheat production, experts predict the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war will create a shortage of wheat supply in the following months.

The impacts are already present, with wheat prices spiking to 19.7% in March 2022, compared to a month earlier.

Since wheat is an essential raw material for the processed food industry, the increase can cause a ripple effect on prices for various foods.

Rice, paddy

About 13,500 years ago, the Chinese domesticated the first strains of rice. Since then, rice has become a staple food responsible for feeding half of the world’s population.

It is cultivated in over 110 countries across the globe which in 2020 reached a total production of 756.7 million tons.

Asia produces 89% of the world’s rice, China being the world’s largest producer of rice with a 211.8 million tons harvest in 2020. India comes as the second-largest rice producer, with 178.3 million tons.

Rice constitutes the most produced crop for 12 countries, including Bangladesh (54.9 million tons), Myanmar (25.1 million tons), Cambodia (10.9 million tons), Nepal (5.5 million tons), and Sri Lanka (5.1 million tons).

Potatoes

Did you know that potatoes were first domesticated in the Andes region? They were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers, and from there, the cultivation of potatoes spread worldwide.

Today, South American countries produce only 5% of the world’s potatoes.

In 2020, half of the world’s potatoes were produced in Asia. Furthermore, China (78.1 million tons) and India (51.3 million tons) are the world’s largest producers.

At the same time, Europe supplied a little less than one-third of the world’s potato production, from which Russia (19.6 million tons) and Ukraine (20.8 million tons) top the list.

The United States ranks as the fifth-largest producer, with a yield of 18.7 million tons of potatoes.

Since Russia and Ukraine alone account for one-tenth of the world’s potato production, the Russian invasion of Ukraine surged the market price for potatoes and other staple foods such as pasta, bread, and sunflower oil.

Experts predict the potato price will increase up to 30%. This automatically increases the price of many processed foods, including everybody’s favourite potato chips.

Other articles on That’s Farming:

Duckweed: What is it and its market share?

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