Competitiveness of Swedish agriculture: indicators and driving forces

AgriFood assists with an analysis of the development of Swedish agricultural competitiveness in relation to other countries, over the period 1990-2012, as a part of the Swedish Government Commission for Competitive Agriculture, “Konkurrenskraftsutredningen”.

Competitiveness is a relative concept, and there is no accepted way to define and measure competitiveness. This report therefore analyses a variety of indicators related to the development of production and trade as well as measures of productivity and efficiency. Findings show:

  • The total production of the Swedish agricultural sector (including services and secondary non- separable activities) follows the development of EU11, but is slightly slower than that of its main competitors. A tendency for a faster output growth can be seen after 2005, mainly due to increases in crop production, service production, and secondary activities. However, livestock production is characterized by weak performance.
  • Sweden has a negative trade balance for food and imports are growing faster than exports. This is reflected in the indexes measuring trading performance. The index of comparative advantage is low but stable. Swedish trade of food products is also characterized by similar goods being exported and imported, although this phenomenon has weakened.
  • Gross value added per employee is lower in Sweden than in the EU on average. Calculated per hour for larger companies and for the three main types of production, vegetables have the highest gross value added, pork/poultry is above the EU average whereas milk production is slightly below the EU average.
  • Sweden is among the most productive countries in the EU, only Denmark and the Netherlands are more productive. Swedish agriculture as a whole shows a rapid increase in total factor productivity (TFP) compared to other countries in the EU, mainly due to a sharp reduction in labor input, and high efficiency in production.