Flemish bioeconomy grows twice as fast as general economy

In Flanders, the bioeconomy sector is growing twice as fast as the general economy, a study ordered by the Flemish government has pointed out. Between 2014 and 2018, the bioeconomy sector grew by no less than 19 per cent, shows the preliminary baseline measurement.

The study was carried out by the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) and independent research organisation VITO on behalf of the Flemish government, as part of a plan to support further development of the bioeconomy. It is a baseline measurement for 2018, and updates will follow in the coming years.

As it turns out, the bioeconomy sector - companies which process renewable raw materials or biomass into food and materials, but also semi-finished goods - accounted for €14,5 billion in added value in 2018. Compared to 2014, the year the federal statistics office Statbel started keeping regional statistics, this represents a 19 per cent increase.

This increase means the bioeconomy grew faster than the general economy in Flanders. In total, the added value of the Flemish economy increased by 15 per cent to 240,7 billion euros in 2018. Most of this, however, comes from the service industry. If only the so-called "physical sectors" - accounting for an added value of 47,4 billion euros (+9 per cent) - are taken into account, the bioeconomy has grown more than twice as fast as the general economy.

Furthermore, the study shows that agriculture and horticulture account for almost all biomass production in Flanders, at 98 per cent. Forestry, fisheries and waste treatment provided the remaining 2 per cent.

The largest biomass processor was the food sector, although this sometimes includes activities other than food production. The oil industry, for instance, makes oil not only for food but also for technical applications. The food industry is followed by the chemical industry, which uses biomass to produce large volumes of fatty acids, fertilisers, bioethanol and biodiesel.



#FlandersNewsService | Photo shows the opening and commissioning of the first Flemish 'Biomass Square' in Houthalen - Helchteren © BELGA PHOTO JORIS VLIEGEN

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