Importance of trade dependencies for agricultural inputs : a case study of Finland

Elina Lehikoinen*, Pekka Kinnunen, Johannes Piipponen, Alison Heslin, Michael J. Puma, Matti Kummu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
95 Downloads (Pure)


Approximately 80% of the world's population lives in countries that are dependent on food imports to sustain an adequate food supply. Besides these food imports, further dependencies also arise due to the requirements for agricultural inputs, including energy, fertilisers, feed and agricultural machinery. While the trade of agricultural inputs is relatively well represented in economic analysis, the quantification is often in terms of monetary values, and thus the assessments of the actual input quantities are very limited. In this paper, we develop a framework for analysis of the traded input quantities at the country-level and demonstrate its utility through an in-depth analysis of Finland's dependency on agricultural inputs. Further, we assess the importance of these inputs for domestic food production from a resilience perspective. We find that Finland, a country with relatively high food self-sufficiency but also a great dependency on imported agricultural inputs, experienced an increase in its dependency over the period 1996-2016. In case of trading partners, the story is more mixed: while trading partners for soybeans increased, those decreased in case of electricity while no significant change was observed in other commodities. In Finland, the rapeseed dependency on imports (ratio of net imports and consumption) grew from around 0% to almost 50% between the years 1987-2013. Changes for electricity remained substantially smaller, with dependency only slightly growing during the study period. Crude oil and soybean supplies are totally dependent on imports as neither is produced in Finland. Interestingly, the highest dependencies for agricultural inputs were on different countries than that for foodstuff imports. Thus, when identifying and assessing approaches to increase resilience to trade-related shocks, it is essential to understand both foodstuff and agricultural input dependencies within the global food system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number061003
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Research Communications
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • agricultural inputs
  • international trade
  • resilience
  • trade dependency


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