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Ten-years Development of Pesticides (2011-2020) in the European Union under Official Data
2022/10/27 15:20:01

Ten-years Development of Pesticides (2011-2020) in the European Union under Official Data


Recently, Eurostat released a report on the sales of pesticides in the EU in 2020, and compared the situation in 2011 at the level of the EU as a whole and at the level of individual member states.

In the ten years from 2011 to 2020, the EU has improved the pesticide evaluation system and made more stringent evaluation standards for pesticides. At the same time, the EU has paid more attention to the sustainable development of pesticides, actively formulated relevant strategies and issued a series of regulations (EU Pesticide Regulation (Legislation on Plant Protection Products (PPPs))). So, what are the effects of these changes on pesticides in the European Union?


Pesticide Sales in the EU are Generally Stable

Between 2011 and 2020, sales of pesticides in the EU remained relatively stable with the total volume sold annually fluctuating ± 6% around the 350 000 tonnes level. In 2020, a bit less than 346,000 tons were sold. Compared with 2019 (333,000 tons), it has increased.


Figure 1 Sales of pesticides, EU, 2011-2020 (tonnes)

Four countries (Germany, Spain, France and Italy) accounted for about two thirds of the pesticides sales in the EU. These countries are also the main agricultural producers in the EU, together representing 51% of the total EU utilised agricultural area and 49% of the total EU arable land.

Fungicide sales always ranked first

Eurostat classifies pesticides into six categories:

  • fungicides and bactericides,

  • herbicides, haulm destructors and moss killers,

  • insecticides and acaricides,

  • molluscicides,

  • plant growth regulators,

  • other plant protection products.

Fungicides and bactericides and herbicides, haulm destructors and moss killers were the pesticide groups that recorded the highest sales volumes each year over the reference period (Table 1).


In 2020, inorganic fungicides accounted for slightly more than one half (56.8 %) of the 'fungicides and bactericides' sold in the EU (Figure 2). These inorganic fungicides refer to copper compounds, inorganic sulphur and other inorganic fungicides, many of which are permitted in organic farming.


Figure 2 Share of sales of 'fungicides and bactericides' by category of products, EU, 2020

More than 40 % (41.3 %) of sales of 'herbicides, haulm destructors and moss killers' group in 2020 came from the ‘organophosphorus herbicides’ (Figure 3). This category includes Glyphosate. The next largest categories within this substance group were ‘other herbicides’ (almost 15 % of sales) and 'herbicides based on amides and anilides' (which accounted for a further 13.8 % of sales).

At present, the re-evaluation work of the Glyphosate in EU is in progress.


Figure 3 Share of sales of 'herbicides, haulm destructors and moss killers'

by category of products, EU, 2020

Over 90 % of sales in the substance group 'insecticides and acaricides' in 2020 were from the category of products ‘other insecticides’ (Figure 4). This category includes many substances, including about 30 different insect attractants with the chemical class of ‘straight chain lepidopteran pheromones’ (SCLP). The next largest category within the group was ‘insecticides based on pyrethroids' (accounting for 3.2 % of all sales of insecticides and acaricides).

SCLP has just been re-evaluated in the EU, with the latest approval valid from September 1, 2022 to August 30, 2037. It should be noted that most of the SCLP specifications have changed significantly after the re-evaluation, and the latest approved specifications have been published in the SANTE/10828/2021 evaluation report.


Figure 4 Share of sales of 'insecticides and acaricides' by category of products, EU, 2020

The sales of the top three types of pesticides in major agricultural producing countries have increased steadily

There were 16 EU countries (Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden) that provided non-confidential data for all major groups in both 2011 and 2020 (Table 1). Together they recorded sales of 251 868 tonnes of pesticide active substances in 2011 and of 233 509 tonnes in 2020, a fall of 7.3 %. Just over two thirds (67 %) of the total EU sales of pesticides in 2020 were accounted for by these 16 countries.

Between 2011 and 2020, there were contrasting developments in the volume of pesticide sales between Member States (see Figure 5). There were declining sales in a majority of the 16 Member States, with the sharpest rate of decline recorded in Czechia (down - 38 %). Portugal, Denmark, Romania, Belgium and Ireland also reported sales that were at least 20 % lower in 2020 than 2011. On the other hand, Austria and Latvia reported significantly higher sales of pesticides in 2020 than in 2011. It should be noted that the volumes of pesticides sold in Latvia in absolute terms are very low (Table 1). In Austria, large volumes of inert gases used in the storage of agricultural products inflate the total volume of pesticides sold.


Figure 5 Sales of pesticides, 16 EU Member States, percentage change 2020 compared with 2011

Source from EUROSTAT.

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