The economics of legumes

Figure 1: The Economics of Legumes and its TRUE place


The Economics of Legumes deals with the bit in the middle of Figure 1. Basically what it answers is how we can ensure equilibrium between supply (farmers) and demand (consumers), while keeping an eye on the impact on other aspects such as trade and environment.   


Supply – farmers. Why would they uptake production of (novel) legumes? The first thing that comes to mind relates to profits and the economic sustainability of the farm, however that’s necessary but not always (never?) sufficient. Farmers’ decision-making may be influenced by non-economic factors, such as their perceptions of how what they create affects others beyond farmgate – environment, human health; or access to information – have they read about novel legumes?, maybe heard about other farmers already producing them successfully?; an eye for innovation – why not try something new? But, is there a market for it?


Demand – consumers. Why would consumers change shopping habits? Why would they be willing to buy (and consume) (novel) legumes? Are they doing something to help farmers? Would a change in diet reduce their environmental footprint? Or improve their health? Is there enough information about the benefits to society, environment that novel legumes may bring? Do consumers have access to it/are they convinced about it?


To get a very good idea about answering the above, our research will use a number of novel methods, from farm level modelling, to farmer and consumer behavioural analysis, and assessment of the impacts of behavioural change on the performance of the sector, trade and environment. We combine micro- and macro-economic techniques such as spatial statistics, linear programming models incorporating risk analysis, structural choice models and sectoral economic models to assess the supply and demand of sustainable and profitable legumes across Europe in a farm to fork approach. More specifically, we will analyse (1) farm performance in a number of scenarios following introduction of (novel) legumes into farm production in a number of European countries; (2) willingness to uptake by farmers of and willingness to pay for by consumers for (novel) legumes as market forces are a main influence on production choices; and (3) impact of farmer and consumer intentions/behaviour on sectoral and trade performance at EU level. More after we collect the data!

Authors: Luiza Toma1,*, Shailesh Shrestha1, Beate.Zimmermann2, Faical Akaichi1, Christian Lippert2, Andrew Barnes1, Elisabeth Angenendt2, Christine Oré Barrios2, Tatjana Krimly2, Eckart Petig2, Maggie March3, Bob Rees4, Karen Hamann5, David Styles6, Pete Iannetta7


1Land Economy, Environment and Society, Scotland’s Rural College, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG. 2Institut fuer Landwirtschaftliche Betriebslehre, Universität Hohenheim, D-70593 Stuttgart. 3Future Farming Systems, Scotland’s Rural College, Dumfries. 4Crop & Soils Systems, Scotland’s Rural College, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG. 5IFAU Institute for Food Studies & Agro industrial Development ApS, Denmark. 6School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University. 7Agroecology, James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA.


 Acknowledgements: Scotland’s Rural College and The James Hutton Institute is supported by the Scottish Government. The research reported here is also supported by TRUE funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement 727973.

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