Commodity Balances Notes

Commodity balances show balances of food and agricultural commodities in a standardized form (see the note on food balance sheet which explains standardization) . The scope of standardization is to present these data in a less detailed form for a selected number of commodities without causing any significant loss of the basic variables monitoring the agricultural sector. The selected commodities include the equivalents of their derived products falling in the same commodity group, but exclude the equivalents of by-products and derived commodities, which through processing, change their nature and become part of different commodity groups.

A number of commodity/item aggregates have been included to offer synthetic information. Some of these are included with the aim of simplifying the extraction of all component commodities.

Data shown in the item aggregates represent the sum of the component commodities as presented in this domain (standardized form).

Commodity coverage

The commodity list in this domain has been generally confined to primary commodities - except for sugar, oils and fats and beverages. Whenever possible trade in processed commodities is expressed in the originating primary commodity equivalent. Rice is expressed in milled equivalent.


Production. Figures relate to the total domestic production whether inside or outside the agricultural sector, i.e. it includes non-commercial production and production from kitchen gardens. Unless otherwise indicated, production is reported at the farm level for crop and livestock products (i.e. in the case of crops, excluding harvesting losses) and in terms of live weight for fish items (i.e. the actual ex-water weight at the time of the catch). As a general rule, all data on meat are expressed in terms of carcass weight.

Imports. Cover all movements into the country of the commodity in question. It includes commercial trade, food aid granted on specific terms, donated quantities and estimates of unrecorded trade. As a general rule, figures are reported in terms of net weight, i.e. excluding the weight of the container.

Stock changes. Comprise changes in stocks occurring during the reference period at all levels between the production and the retail levels, i.e. it comprises changes in government stocks, in stocks with manufacturers, importers, exporters, other wholesale and retail merchants, transport and storage enterprises and in stocks on farms. In actual fact, however, the information available often relates only to stocks held by governments and even these are not available for a number of countries and important commodities. For this reason food balance sheets are usually prepared as an average of several years since this is believed to reduce the degree of inaccuracy contributed by the absence of information on stocks. In the absence of information on opening and closing stocks changes in stocks are also used for shifting production from the calendar year in which it is harvested to the year in which it is consumed. A negative sign (-) against stocks denotes decrease in supply while no sign denotes increase in supply.

Exports. Cover all movements out of the country of the commodity in question during the reference period. Remarks made above under Imports apply by analogy.

Domestic supply. There are various ways of defining supply and, in fact, various concepts are in use. The elements involved are production, imports, exports and changes in stocks (increases or decreases). There is no doubt that production, imports and decreases in stocks are genuine supply elements. Exports and increases in stocks might, however, be considered as utilization elements. Accordingly, the following are possible ways of defining supply:

Production + imports + decrease in stocks = total supply
Production + imports + changes in stocks (decrease or increase) = supply available for export and domestic utilization
Production + imports - exports + changes in stocks (decrease or increase) = supply for domestic utilization. This concept is being used

Feed comprises the amounts of the commodity in question and of edible commodities derived therefrom not shown separately in the balances fed to livestock during the reference period, whether domestically produced or imported.

Seed comprises all amounts of the commodity in question used during the reference period for reproductive purposes, such as seed, sugar cane planted, eggs for hatching and fish for bait, whether domestically produced or imported. Whenever official data were not available, seed figures have been estimated either as a percentage of supply (e.g. eggs for hatching) or by multiplying a seed rate with the area under the crop in the subsequent year. In those cases where part of the crop is harvested green (e.g. cereals for direct feed or silage, green peas, green beans), account has been taken of the area under the crop harvested green.

Processing. The amounts of the commodity in question used during the reference period for manufacture of processed commodities which could not be converted back to their originating primary commodities or which are part of a separate food groups (e.g., sugar, fats and oils, alcoholic beverages) are shown here. The processed products do not always appear in the same food group. While oilseeds are shown under Oilcrops, the respective oil is shown under the group Vegetable oils; similarly, butter is under Animal fats and not under Milk.

Waste comprises the amounts of the commodity in question and of commodities derived therefrom not further pursued in the balances, lost through waste at all stages between the level at which production is recorded and the household, i.e. waste in processing, storage and transportation. Losses occurring before and during harvest are excluded. Waste from both edible and inedible parts of the commodity occurring in the household is also excluded. Technical losses occurring during the transformation of primary commodities into processed products are taken into account in the assessment of respective extraction/conversion rates.

Other uses comprise quantities of commodities used for manufacture for non-food purposes, e.g. oil for soap, and statistical discrepancies. In order not to distort the picture of the national food pattern, quantities of the commodities in question, consumed mainly by tourists, are included here (see also Per caput supply).

Food. This comprises the amounts of the commodity in question and of any commodity derived therefrom not further pursued in the food balance sheet, available for human consumption during the reference period. Food from maize, for example, comprises the amount of maize, maize meal and any other products derived therefrom available for human consumption. Food from milk relates to the amounts of milk as such, as well as the fresh milk equivalent of dairy products, except butter.

See Also Food Supply Notes