What’s the economic impact of the bioeconomy in Catalonia?

The bioeconomy sector in Catalonia is a significant contributor to the region’s economy. It encompasses a range of industries, including agriculture, food processing, energy, and chemicals, that use renewable biological resources to produce goods. These sectors employ around 622,700 people in Spain (the average for 2016–2021), which represents 17.24% of the total employed population in Catalonia.

What’s bioeconomy?

Bioeconomy is an economic model that uses renewable biological resources to produce food, energy, chemicals, textiles, and other bio-based products that we depend upon. The Bioeconomy has emerged as a model aiming to find efficient resource utilisation methods, reduce reliance on non-renewable resources, and prevent resource depletion.

It is important to understand the impact of the bioeconomy. This allows researchers, policymakers, and other key stakeholders to make informed decisions about investments, regulations, and support mechanisms, for example.

How to quantify its impact?

To quantify the impact of bioeconomy in Catalonia, the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda has commissioned the Center for Research in Agrifood Economics and Development (CREDA-UPC-IRTA) to calculate the impact based on output and input-output tables.

The output approach determines whether products generated by economic activities are bio-based. It then calculates the shares of these products in relation to the total production of each economic sector and, using these quotas weights the main macro-magnitudes of each economic activity (production, gross value added, and employment).

The input-output approach allows the bioeconomy to be dimensioned according to the links that sectors considered 100% bio-based can maintain with other industries that supply them (upstream) or serve as clients (downstream). For instance, in the case of the food and beverages industry, the upstream sectors could be agriculture and food processing, while the downstream sectors could be retail and hospitality. Bio-based sectors are those within the primary sector but can include primary processing industries such as food and beverages and the wood and paper industry.

Countries where downstream and upstream VA constitutes at least 50% of the total bioeconomy, 2018. Source: Cingiz et al. 2023.

Using the output approach, the total values of production growth, added value and employment generated by the bioeconomy had been estimated for 2016–2021, despite the effects of the covid-19 pandemic. Likewise, estimates of production and employment suggest a slight increase in the weight of the bioeconomy on the Catalan economy as a whole over these years.

Using the input-output approach, the gross value added (GVA) of the bioeconomy 2016–2021 amounts to 22,420.6 million euros (10.18% of the total GVA of the Catalan economy), a level comparable to that observed for the EU-27 average. Catalonia appears to be one of the main economies in Europe in terms of the weight of indirect links on the GVA of the bioeconomy, to the point of being among the top 10 EU countries with the highest weight of these links.

Economic weight of the bioeconomy in Catalonia

The recently published report by the Government of Catalonia, “Economic weight of the bioeconomy in Catalonia: application of Output and Input-Output methodologies” or “Pes economic de la bioeconomia a Catalunya: aplicació de methodologies d’Output I Input-Output” (in Catalan), offers a comprehensive view of the bioeconomy sector from 2016 to 2021. It spotlights significant developments, challenges, and, most importantly, strategic initiatives designed to foster a sustainable and innovative bioeconomy, instilling a sense of optimism for the future.