New figures reveal sustained growth for the European bioeconomy – 2.3 trillion EUR turnover and 18.6 million people employed in 2016

A study conducted in 2016 by nova-Institute on behalf of the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) showed for the first time which macroeconomic effects are generated by the bioeconomy e.g. turnover and employment for the years 2008 and 2013

An update of the study with 2014 and 2015 data was published in April 2018. Now, a new version of the report is available which spans the whole period from 2008 to 2016.

Visuals, German version and PDF file available at

According to the report, the primary sectors (agriculture, forestry and fishery) as well as the food, beverage, tobacco and paper and paper products, can be considered fully bio-based and are thus fully accounted for in the bioeconomy. For other manufacturing sectors such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and textiles, the bio-based shares were estimated and included in the assessment.

The analysis of the 2016 Eurostat data shows that the turnover of the total bioeconomy, including the food and beverage and primary sectors, resulted in 2.3 trillion EUR in the EU-28. Roughly half of the turnover is accounted for by the food and beverage sector, almost a quarter is generated by the primary sectors – agriculture and forestry. The other quarter is generated by the so-called bio-based industries, such as chemicals and plastics, pharmaceuticals, paper and paper products, forest-based industries, textiles, biofuels and bioenergy.

In 2016, the bioeconomy employed 18.6 million people in total. The primary biomass production, mainly agriculture plus forestry and fishery, generates a lot of employment (55%) but low turnover (20%). Furthermore, the data shows clear differences between groups of Member States: e.g. some Central & Eastern European countries e.g. Bulgaria, Poland and Romania are stronger in lower value-adding bioeconomy sectors but generate a lot of employment. In comparison, Western and Northern European countries generate a much higher turnover compared to employment. The countries with the highest ratio between turnover and employment are Belgium, Finland and Sweden.

As in the 2016 study, this update highlights the contribution of the often-underrated bio-based industries. These bio-based industries demonstrate a sizeable turnover of about 700 billion EUR and employ 3.6 million people in the EU-28 in 2016. In the bio-based chemical industry alone, turnover amounted to around 38 billion EUR. The data also demonstrated an overall slight increase in the bio-based share of the chemical industry in the EU-28 from about 5% in 2008 to 7% in 2016.

The full report can be freely consulted here:

19-07-25 Turnover Bioeconomy EU-28 2016 nova

About the Bio-based Industries Consortium:

The Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) represents the private sector in a 3.7 billion EUR public-private partnership (PPP) with the EU – the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).

BIC is host to more than 200 industry members covering the whole value chain, from primary production to brand owners, across multiple and diverse sectors: agriculture, food & feed production, aquaculture and marine, chemicals and materials, forestry and pulp & paper, technology providers, waste management and beyond.

For press-related enquiries please contact Ben Kennard, BIC Communications & Stakeholder Relations Manager, at

About nova-Institute:

nova-Institute is a private and independent research institute, founded in 1994; nova offers research and consultancy with a focus on bio-based and CO2-based economy in the fields of food and feedstock, techno-economic evaluation, markets, sustainability, dissemination, B2B communication and policy. Every year, nova organises several large conferences on these topics; nova-Institute has 30 employees and an annual turnover of more than 3 million EUR.


Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) and nova-Institut GmbH, press release, 2019-07-26.


Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC)
nova-Institut GmbH