Brazil doesn’t produce 25% of the world’s food, as the UK’s trade envoy to the country claimed

17 December 2021
What was claimed

Brazil produces 25% of the planet’s food.

Our verdict

This appears far too high. The most recent available data from the UN shows Brazil produces 10% of the world’s food by weight and 4% by value.

“Brazil… produces 25% of the planet’s food.”

In Parliament, Conservative MP and trade envoy to Brazil Marco Longhi claimed the South American country produces a quarter of the world’s food.

This figure appears far too high.

What proportion of the world’s food does Brazil actually produce?

The most comprehensive statistics on food production are collected by the UN

They show Brazil produced around 10% of the world’s food by weight in 2019, behind China (19%) and India (13%). 

By value, Brazil produced 4% of the world’s food in 2018, behind China (24%), the United States (11%) and India (10%). 

The UN doesn’t have more recent data on the value of food produced for Brazil and other large producers such as India, which is why we’ve used the 2018 figures in this case.

There are a few caveats with this data. 

Some small countries are missing from both datasets and so the percentages are calculated as a total of those countries for which data exists. (In practice, if we had data for all countries, Brazil’s share of food production by value and weight would be slightly lower than stated). 

Also, this data does include some items which may not be considered food (such as tobacco), but excluding these makes barely any difference to the figures.

Where did the 25% figure come from?

It is possible that Mr Longhi was referring to a different set of data, but we have not found any reputable recent data which suggests Brazil’s food production is anywhere near this level.

A search on Google for the question “How much of the world's food does Brazil produce?” does return the figure 25%. The first result featured by the search engine says “Brazil is responsible for 25% of the world's food production”.

The source for this is a 2005 essay by an Iowan high school student, submitted as an entry to a competition run by the World Food Prize Foundation. But while the essay includes various references to academic literature, the 25% figure itself doesn’t appear to be sourced. It also doesn’t appear to have been accurate in 2005 either, as UN statistics show Brazil then produced about 8% of the world’s food by weight. 

We have asked Mr Longhi’s office where his data comes from. We await a reply and will update this piece if he responds.

Picture credit: UK Parliament

We deserve better than bad information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted Marco Longhi to ask him for evidence to back up this claim.

He did not respond.

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