Market Perspective Dissecting the Bioeconomy

Editor: Rosemarie Stahl

2.1 trillion turnover and 18.3 million employees in the European Bioeconomy: Comprehensive data and graphics are available for the first time.

Turnover in the EU bio-based economy.
Turnover in the EU bio-based economy.
(Turnover in the EU bio-based economy)

The bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea—such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms – to produce food, materials and energy. A new study now shows which macroeconomic effects are generated by these activities, for example turnover, employment etc. The data, generated by Nova-Institute on behalf of the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) will be updated annually.

Eurostat was used as the main source of data for all sectors of the bioeconomy. Some sectors, such as the forest-based industry, are fully bio-based and thus fully accounted to the bioeconomy. For other sectors such as the chemical industry, the bio-based shares were estimated and included in the data.

The analysis of the Eurostat data of 2013 shows that the turnover of the total bioeconomy, including food and beverages and the primary sectors agriculture and forestry, results in 2.1 trillion EUR in the EU-28. Roughly half of the turnover is accounted for by the food and beverages sector, almost a quarter is created by the primary sectors, agriculture and forestry. The other quarter is created by the so-called bio-based industries, such as chemicals and plastics, pharmaceuticals, paper and paper products, forest-based industries, textile sector, biofuels and bioenergy.

The bioeconomy employs 18.3 million people in total. The primary biomass production, mainly agriculture plus forestry and fishery, generates a lot of employment (58%) but low turnover (21%). The data show clear differences between groups of Member States: for example the Eastern European countries Poland, Romania and Bulgaria apparently are stronger in less value added sectors of the bio-based economy that generate a lot of employment. In comparison, Western and Northern European countries generate much higher turnover compared to the employment generated. The countries with the highest ratio between turnover and employment are Ireland, Finland and Belgium.

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