Economy - Figures


The cattle herd stood at 3.9 million in 2018. This is 10 percent less than in the peak year of 2016. The phasing out of dairy quotas caused an increase in the mature dairy cattle herd by 11.8 percent. This contributed to the national phosphate ceiling being exceeded in 2015 and 2016. After the implementation of a phosphate reduction plan, the dairy herd was reduced and phosphate production was below the ceiling imposed by the EU again in the next two years.

In arable farming, the drought of 2018 caused lower crop yields. The average yield in seed onions was 35.5 thousand kg per hectare of land, 36 percent less than in the previous year. The table potato harvest was 22 percent lower year-on-year on average, with major regional variation. The average seed onion production was 15 thousand in Zeeland province whereas one ha of land yielded 44 thousand kg in Flevoland province. The table potato harvest in Zeeland was 35.0 thousand kg per hectare against 46.1 thousand kg in Flevoland.

The pig population has remained fairly stable in recent years. Between 2008 and 2018, the number fluctuated between approximately 12 million and 12.5 million. In 2018, the largest herds were found in the provinces of Noord-Brabant, Limburg and Gelderland. The strongest growth in herd size was recorded in Limburg, where the rise amounted to nearly 16 percent on 2008. The average herd size has reached 3 thousand. The herd per farm has increased since 2000 in particular.

In 2018, organically raised livestock took up a share of 3.4 percent in the total livestock herd. The organic livestock herd includes 3.6 million laying hens, nearly 97 thousand pigs, nearly 77 thousand cattle, 55 thousand goats and over 13 thousand sheep.

3.4 percent of the total livestock herd was organically reared. The organic goat herd increased by nearly one-quarter to 55 thousand year-on-year, while the number of organic laying hens grew by 11 percent to 3.6 million. The organic dairy herd remained at almost the same level. The number of organically reared sheep decreased by 2.6 percent to slightly over 13 thousand. The organic pig herd increased by 6 percent.

The goat herd rose to record levels again in 2018 with 588 thousand goats, a year-on-year increase by 10 percent. In the period 2000–2018, the number of goats more than tripled. Most goats can be found at special goat farms, which mainly use them for goat milk. The number of dairy goats at specialised farms rose by 14 percent in the span of one year to 411 thousand in 2018. Over half of these goats are found in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Gelderland.

In fresh catches of the commercially most important fish species, only North Sea shrimp landings increased in 2018. Compared to the year 2000, landings nearly tripled. The increase was 71 percent relative to 2010. Landings of plaice, sole and cod decreased by 50, 52 and 94 percent respectively in comparison with 2000.

In 2018, the pear harvest stood at a record volume of 402 million kg. At 312 million kg, the Conference variety took the lion’s share of pear production (78 percent). Despite dry weather, the yield per hectare was around 40 thousand kg. The pear-growing area has increased by 25 percent over the past decade, to 9,950 ha. The Conference variety took up the largest area with 7,500 hectares; Doyenné du Comice came second at 750 ha.

In 2018, Dutch farmers cultivated flower bulbs on 28 thousand hectares of land. Flower bulb cultivation is in regional clusters. The largest bulb cultivation area is in Den Helder and surroundings. In 2018, this area was good for 18 percent of bulb cultivation. The most popular bulbous flower was the tulip with 52 percent of the cultivation area, followed by the lily (23 percent) and the daffodil (5 percent). Iris cultivation has seen the largest decline since 2008.

221 thousand hectares of land were used for maize cultivation, approximately the same size as in 2016 and 2017 but 19 percent below the record year 2008. Almost all the maize grown by Dutch farmers is destined to become animal feed. The bulk is forage maize (92.9 percent) which is mainly used as roughage for cattle, while grain maize is used as chicken feed (4.4 percent) and corn-cob mix (2.0 percent) is mainly fed to pigs. Energy corn (0.1 percent) is cultivated for the production of biogas for digesters. For human consumption, only sweet corn is cultivated (0.5 percent).

In horticulture, the most common crop is the tomato plant. In 2018, tomatoes occupied over one-third (36 percent) of the total area for greenhouse vegetables. Approximately half of the tomato growing area is used for vine tomatoes. After tomatoes, the most common greenhouse vegetables are sweet pepper (26 percent of the greenhouse vegetable area), cucumber (11 percent) and strawberry (8 percent). The total greenhouse cultivation area has fluctuated around 4.9 thousand hectares for years.


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Opening page and header: © Hollandse Hoogte / Martijn Beekman

Society - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Patricia Rehe

Economy - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Marcel Krijgsman

Labour and income - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Sabine Joosten


Explanation of symbols

. Data not available
* Provisional figure
** Revised provisional figure
x Confidential
(between two whole numbers) up to and including
0 (0.0) The number is smaller than half of the selected unit
empty cell Not applicable
2018–2019 2018 to 2019 inclusive
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2016/’17–2018/’19 Crop year, financial year, etc., 2016/’17 to 2018/’19 inclusive

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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