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European dietary patterns and their associated land use: Variation between and within countries


  • de Ruiter, Henri
  • Kastner, Thomas
  • Nonhebel, Sanderine


This paper determines the cropland use associated with the dietary patterns of 16 European countries and investigates sources of variation in land use between and within these countries. The analysis combines food availability data at the household level with country-specific land use data for food items. The household food availability data is obtained from a standardized and post-harmonized databank, developed in the Data Food Networking Project (DAFNE). The results show large differences between the land use of the 16 European countries, ranging from ±1500m2 (Ireland) to ±3000m2 (Malta) to supply an average person’s food demand. Major reasons for this divergence include disparities in total caloric food availability and in national yields. The composition of the diet is only a minor source of variation. Using food consumption data at the household level makes it also possible to look for sources of variation within countries. This paper investigates sources of variation within countries by examining the influence of education of the household head on land use associated with food consumption. The analysis shows that diets of people with only elementary education need on average 20% more land than diets of people with a higher education (2302m2 and 1948m2, respectively). The basis of this difference is the higher caloric availability for people with only an elementary education; the influence of differences in the composition of the diet is negligible. Variation in land use between countries is thus caused by the different agricultural productivities and caloric availabilities, and the major source of variation within countries is the caloric availability. The composition of the diet is only a minor source of variation, both between and within countries. The results implicate that highly educated people have a lower demand for land.

Suggested Citation

  • de Ruiter, Henri & Kastner, Thomas & Nonhebel, Sanderine, 2014. "European dietary patterns and their associated land use: Variation between and within countries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 158-166.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:44:y:2014:i:c:p:158-166
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2013.12.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wirsenius, Stefan & Azar, Christian & Berndes, Göran, 2010. "How much land is needed for global food production under scenarios of dietary changes and livestock productivity increases in 2030?," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 103(9), pages 621-638, November.
    2. Nijdam, Durk & Rood, Trudy & Westhoek, Henk, 2012. "The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutes," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 760-770.
    3. Tukker, Arnold & Goldbohm, R. Alexandra & de Koning, Arjan & Verheijden, Marieke & Kleijn, René & Wolf, Oliver & Pérez-Domínguez, Ignacio & Rueda-Cantuche, Jose M., 2011. "Environmental impacts of changes to healthier diets in Europe," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(10), pages 1776-1788, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Federica Monaco & Ingo Zasada & Dirk Wascher & Matjaž Glavan & Marina Pintar & Ulrich Schmutz & Chiara Mazzocchi & Stefano Corsi & Guido Sali, 2017. "Food Production and Consumption: City Regions between Localism, Agricultural Land Displacement, and Economic Competitiveness," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(1), pages 1-20, January.
    2. Sali, Guido & Corsi, Stefano & Monaco, Federica & Mazzochi, Chiara, 2014. "The role of different typologies of urban agriculture for the nourishment of the metropolis. The case study of Milan," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 186373, European Association of Agricultural Economists.


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