Global Grain Production at Record High Despite Extreme Climatic Events

In 2012, global grain production is expected to reach a record high of 2.37 billion tons, an increase of 1 percent from 2011 levels.1 (See Figure 1.) Grain crops are used for human consumption, animal feed, and biofuels. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the production of grain for animal feed is growing the fastest—a 2.1 percent increase from 2011.2 Grain for direct consumption by people grew 1.1 percent from 2011.3Grain used for biofuel production and other non-feed uses has slowed to a 1 percent increase from 2011 (compared with an 8.2 percent increase from 2008 to 2009).4

Grain Figure 1

In 2011, the amount of grain used for food totaled 570.7 million tons, with India consuming 89 million tons, China 87 million tons, and the United States 28 million tons, according to the International Grains Council.5 There is a huge global reliance on wheat, maize (corn), and rice for daily sustenance. Of the 50,000 edible plants in the world, these three grains account for two thirds of the world’s food energy intake.6 Grains provide the majority of calories in diets worldwide. Available caloric intake from grain ranges from 23 percent in the United States to 60 percent in developing Asia and 62 percent in North Africa.7

FAO expects global maize production to increase 4.1 percent from 2011, reaching an estimated global production of 916 million tons in 2012.8 For 2012, rice production is forecast by the FAO at 488 million tons (milled), an increase of 7.9 million tons from 2011.9 Wheat production is estimated to reach 675.1 million tons in 2012, dropping 3.6 percent from 2011.10 The decline in wheat production is partially attributed to poor weather during the growing season, including droughts in Morocco and Central Asia and harsh winters in Europe (in Poland, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Hungary).11


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