QUIZ: Do You Know Who Produces The World's Biggest Commodities?


The global economy follows this Golden Rule: The one who has the gold, makes the rules.

The same can be said of oil, rare earth elements, iron, food products, and everything else that the world needs to keep running. The country that can produce crucial commodities can control the supply. 

True mavens know where every commodity comes from, and they watch those countries for revolution, disaster and anything else that could disrupt the market.

Which country produces the most oil?

Russia produces more than any other country.

You thought it was Saudi Arabia, didn't you? Saudi Arabia has more reserves than any other country, but it is non-OPEC Russia that actually produces the most in 2010. Being outside OPEC's (ostensible at least) production targets gives Russia a considerable advantage, being able to produce more when prices are high.

The Top Five:

  1. Russia, 10,120,000 Barrels/day
  2. Saudi Arabia 9,764,000
  3. United States 9,056,000
  4. Iran 4,172,000
  5. China 3,991,000

Source: CIA World Fact Book

Which country grows the most tobacco?

China is the number one tobacco grower by far

China produces twice as much tobacco as Brazil, the second biggest producer. China

The Top Five:

  1. China 3,067,928 tonnes
  2. Brazil 863,079
  3. India 620,000
  4. United States 373,440
  5. Indonesia 181,319

Source: Tobacco Atlas, FAOSTAT

Which country produces the most copper?

The biggest copper producer is Chile.

Chile produced 5,320,000 metric tonnes in 2009. One mine in Chile, the Minera Escondida, produced 1,255,019 metric tonnes, almost equally the national output of the United States, the second largest copper producing country.

The Top Five:

  1. Chile 5,320,000 metric tonnes
  2. United States 1,310,000
  3. Peru 1,260,000
  4. China 960,000
  5. Indonesia 950,000

Source: Copper Investing News

Which country produces the most gold?

China produces the most gold.

China has been on top since 2007. Last year, China mined 341 tons of gold.

The high price of gold today is spurring speculation into defunct mines, even ones that were tapped in Roman days.

The Top Five:

  1. China 341 metric tons
  2. Australia 266
  3. United States 240
  4. South Africa 200
  5. Russia 190

Source: Fox Business

Which country is the biggest coffee producer?

Brazil tops the list of coffee growers

Brazil's number one position is in no danger. About a third of all coffee beans were grown in Brazil.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity after oil. One major problem that it poses for producer countries is the profligate waste of water that growing coffee entails. The cup of coffee that you had this morning was probably a blend from several different countries with different growing environments.

The Top Five

  1. Brazil 2,440,060 tonnes
  2. Vietnam 1,176,000
  3. Colombia 887,661
  4. Indonesia 700,000
  5. India 289,500

Source: Beverage Answers, FAOSTAT

Which country produces the most rare earth metals?

China alone accounts for 97% of total world production of rare earths

China nearly has a monopoly on rare earth elements. Rare earth metals are abundant in the US and Australia, but in recent years, Chinese mining has taken over rare earths.

This is one part of the US trade imbalance with China that is particularly dangerous. If the Chinese were to withhold rare earths, as they already have from Japan during a dispute, or charge more for them, it could lead to a major supply chain disruption much worse than the one that the March 11 tsunami and earthquake precipitated. If that were to happen, modern electronics like clean energy technology, smartphones, and defence technology would be impossible or too expensive to manufacture outside of China if other countries don't step up their production of rare earths such as Neodymium, and Lanthanum. The Toyota Prius requires about 10 pounds of Lanthanum to manufacture. If supply of these elements is cut off, Toyota will be some big trouble indeed.

Only four countries produced significant amounts of rare earths in 2009, the latest year with data available. They are:

  1. China 120,000 metric tonnes
  2. India 2,700
  3. Brazil 650
  4. Malaysia 380

Source: US Geological Survey, Congressional Research

Which country produces the most olive oil?

Spain produces the most olive oil.

About 90 per cent of olives are used for making oil and nearly 90% of all olive trees are found in the Mediterranean region.

The Top Five:

  1. Spain 1,199,200 tonnes
  2. Italy 587,700
  3. Greece 332,600
  4. Tunisia 150,000
  5. Turkey 143,000

Source: United Nations, FAOSTAT

Which country produces the most iron?


China produced 900 million metric tonnes of iron ore in 2010, more than twice what Australia produced.

The Top Five:

  1. China 900 million metric tonnes
  2. Australia 420
  3. Brazil 370
  4. India 260
  5. Russia 100

Source: US Geological Survey

Which country grows the most soybeans?

The United States produces more soybeans than any other country.

The US even exports soybeans to the legume's native Asia.

The Top Five

  1. United States 91,417,300 tonnes
  2. Brazil 57,345,400
  3. Argentina 30,993,400
  4. China 14,981,221
  5. India 10,050,000

Source: Soyatech, FAOSTAT

Which country produces the most wheat?

China grows the most wheat.

China owes it to Norman Borlaug for the agricultural technology that has let them avoid famine and have control of their food supply.

The Top Five:

  1. China 115,115,364 tonnes
  2. India 80,680,000
  3. Russia 61,739,800
  4. United States 60,314,300
  5. Canada 26,847,600

Source: Agriculture Corner

Which country grows the most rice?

China grows about a third of the world's rice

No surprise here. Rice is mainly grown and eaten in Asia.

The Top Five:

  1. China 196,681,170 tonnes
  2. India 133,700,000
  3. Indonesia 64,398,900
  4. Bangladesh 47,724,000
  5. Vietnam 38,895,500

Source: Rice Trade

Which country makes the most poppy seeds?

Turkey produces the most poppy seeds

Turkey may have this honour, but they Czech Republic is not far behind.

The Top Five:

  1. Turkey 34,194 tonnes
  2. Czech Republic 32,692
  3. Spain 7,000
  4. France 6,500
  5. Hungary 3,458


Which country makes the most pistachios?

Iran makes the most pistachios.

Iranian pistachios are famously delicious too.

The Top Five:

  1. Iran 255,000 tonnes
  2. United States 175,088
  3. Turkey 81,795
  4. Syria 61,484
  5. China 45,000


Which country produces the most cotton?

Again, China has no competition.

China produces more cotton than any other country.

The Top Five:

  1. China 33,000 bales
  2. India 27,000
  3. United States 18,000
  4. Pakistan 10,300
  5. Brazil 9,300

Sou cre: National Cotton Council

Which country is the biggest producer of beef?

The USA is still on top of the beef industry.

As expected, the US is the king of beef. Brazil isn't very far behind, though. Brazil is the number one exporter of beef.

The Top Five:

  1. United States 11,946,000 metric tonnes
  2. Brazil 9,365,000
  3. European Union 8,000,000
  4. China 5,500,000
  5. India 2,960,000

Source: Index Mundi

Which country produces the most butter?

India produces more butter than any other country

Maybe Hindu prohibitions on eating beef is why Indians make and consume so much butter. The uniquely Indian ghee butter might be the oldest type of butter.

The Top Five:

  1. India 4,182,680 tonnes
  2. United States 713,597
  3. Pakistan 630,281
  4. Germany 452,854


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