Centre for Rural Economy

Staff Profile

Dr Francisco Areal

Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economic


Francisco J. Areal

Email: Francisco.Areal-Borrego@newcastle.ac.uk

Telephone: 44 (0) 1912085272 

Centre for Rural Economy, Agriculture building, Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 7RU, United Kingdom


Francisco Areal is an economist with over 19 years research experience. He is a Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics at the Centre for Rural Economy, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Francisco joined the Centre for Rural Economy at the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences in April 2019.

Previously Francisco worked as Associate Professor and Lecturer in Environmental Economics at the University of Reading 2011-2019. Before he worked at the Joint Research Centre – Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in Seville, Spain and at the Central Science Laboratory in York (currently known as the Food and Environment Research Agency –FERA-).

Francisco's research focuses on the interaction between agriculture, the environment, economics and society by developing and applying statistical and econometric methods to answer questions of policy relevance for agriculture and the environment. Francisco is currently working on developing farm sustainability indicators; developing econometric methods to account for social connectivity (e.g. interdependence of individuals’ preferences) and unobserved heterogeneity in consumer's and producer's choices.

Francisco has recently led as Principal Investigator a project on achieving sustainable intensification using remote sensing in China funded by Agri-Tech in China Newton Network.

Francisco is leading a WP analysing consumer preferences at UK scale, as part of SUS-Health, a UKRI awarded collaboration between Newcastle University and Queen's University Belfast, that aims to increase sustainability and healthiness of food in UK food consumption led by Prof. Lynn Frewer.

Francisco has also worked on a wide number of nationally and internationally funded projects including FP6-SIGMEA, FP6 CO-extra, Defra's funded Sustainable Intensification Platform, and Innovative UK funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Aramajaro, amongst others. Recently, Francisco has worked on a EU funded project, SOILCARE, leading a WP on social aspects influencing the adoption of soil-improving innovations. In this project, Francisco analysed the individual's willingness to pay for soil quality improvement. 



Author/co-author of over 70 publications including 52 international journal articles (22 as lead or corresponding author), 20 book chapters and reports with >80 co-authors from 22 countries (averaging a rate of 5 publications per year since 2018)

Google Scholar H-index: 21 based on >1,600 citations

Google Scholar i10-index: 32

Google Scholar link

Scopus link

Academic roles and positions

Invited expert at the OECD - Francisco regularly participates as invited expert for the OECD network on farm level analysis of productivity

Expert reviewer - ESF College of expert reviewers - European Science Foundation since 2017

Research project assessor - Francisco has advised research funding agencies such as ESRC.

Visiting Research Fellow - Francisco is Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, UK

External Examiner - In 2020, Francisco has been appointed as External examiner for the BSc (Hons) Environment, Food and Society at the Royal Agricultural University. Since 2021 Francisco acts as external examiner for the FdSc British Wildlife Conservation; Foundation Degree in Environmental Conservation and Heritage Management; BSc (Top-up) Countryside Management; BSc (Hons) Wildlife and Countryside Management at the Royal Agricultural University.

Guest Associate Editor - Francisco acted as Guest Associate Editor of Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems - Land, livelihoods and Food Security on the research topic "Special Dependency, spillovers and farm efficiency"

Guest Editor - Francisco acted as Guest Editor of the special issue of Sustainability on "Sustainability of farming in future: Developing of sustainable intensification". 

Guest Editor - Francisco acted as Guest Editor of the special issue of Resources on "Sustainable indicators for environmental management"


2003-present Member of the Agricultural Economics Society

2013-present Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) 

2014-present Member of the Eurochoices Advisory Board

2015-present Member of the Editorial Staff Committee "Economía Agraria y Recursos Naturales"

2017-present Member of the "ESF College of Expert Reviewers" - European Science Foundation

2013-2017 Member of the Executive Committee of the UK Agricultural Economics Society

2011-2014 Member of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 


Student supervision

Francisco has acted as PhD examiner of 10 PhD candidates. 

Francisco has co-supervised to completion 5 PhD students, supervised students 20 MSc students and 48 undergraduate students. Francisco is currently co-supervising 3 PhD students.



PhD Agriculture and Food Economics, University of Reading, UK

MSc Environmental Economics and Environmental Management, University of York, UK

BSc Economics, University of Vigo, Spain 


Over the past 18 years, Francisco has conducted interdisciplinary research in environmental, development and agricultural economics in both developing and developed countries. Most of Francisco's research can be encapsulated within the sustainable production and consumption theme. Under this sustainable production and consumption them Francisco has conducted research on spatial econometrics, sustainability indicators, adoption and evaluation of innovations; efficiency analysis and productivity; and environmental economics and non-market valuation (e.g. green energy) but Francisco’s interests also covers other research areas such as price spikes in commodity markets and the analysis voting choices (e.g. the role of personal traits into the Brexit referendum outcome).  


Spatial econometrics

Francisco has developed and applied spatial analytical methods in different research areas.


Technical efficiency

Francisco has developed new approaches to account for spatial unobserved heterogeneity into efficiency analysis and continues to work into developing ways to account for individual's social interdependence in efficiency analysis and other areas of research.


Farm abandonment

Francisco has worked on understanding Spanish farmers’ views on the future of olive farming incorporating spatial econometrics to provide propositions on what elements should be taking into account when designing agricultural policies aiming at guaranteeing the sustainability of olive farming in future.


Individual time and risk preferences

Francisco is currently working on accounting for unobserved spatial heterogeneity in individual’s inter-temporal decisions and risk attitudes.



Sustainability indicators

Francisco has developed analytical methods to incorporate environmental outputs (e.g. ecosystem services) and spatial aspects into technical efficiency analysis to obtain novel sustainability indicators. In this regard, Francisco has worked on developing sustainable intensification indicators derived from farm efficiency analysis. He has worked in this area supported by Defra’s Sustainable Intensification Platform and Rural Business Research funding. Recently, Francisco obtained funded from Agri-Tech in the China: Newton Network and led work on incorporating satellite derived environmental impact indicators into efficiency analysis to develop SI metrics though leading a project. 


Environmental Economics and non-market valuation

Francisco has worked in different projects dealing with analysing the interlinkages between the different economic and ecological systems.

One of the first projects Francisco was heavily involved was a project to analyse the effects of international trade of cut flowers to the introduction of invasive species in the UK. Soon followed a cost-benefit analysis for a native oyster restoration program in the UK as part of a collaborative project with CEFAS funded by Defra.

Later Francisco led a seedcorn project (Defra funded) on analysing the impacts of the American mink (Mustela vison) on marketable native species: Salmon (Salmo salar) reared in fish farms using ecological-economic modelling.

Francisco started working in non-market valuation in 2005, estimating the economic value of trees susceptible to a quarantine disease (e.g. Sudden Oak Death). More recently, Francisco has supervised several MSc and PhD students to apply non-market valuation methods to estimate the value to society of green energy produced by an offshore wind farm in Greece. This work also identified drivers behind people's willingness to pay for this type of green energy. Recently Francisco has collaborated with Caroline Harkness to investigate the economic value to consumers of low acrylamide content in baby food and with Bernardo Martinez-Ribaya to evaluate the potential product differentiation between a genetically modified and conventional soya-based product in Argentina. Francisco has also co-supervised work on investigating individual’s preferences for mitigation of the negative impacts of the oil and gas industry in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

Currently, Francisco is working on a couple of projects valuing soil quality improvement and reducing plastic pollution.


Adoption and evaluation of innovations

Francisco has conducted research to understanding the adoption of agricultural practices by small holding farmers. In this regard, Francisco has led economic analysis of an Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) funded project on measuring the impacts of an edutainment TV programme, Shamba Shape Up, on the adoption of innovation systems by smallholder farmers in Kenya and social benefits.

Francisco has work on evaluating economic and environmental performance of GM crops as well as associated policies. In this area Francisco has recently worked on developing ways to incorporate probability functions into composite indicators. This has been applied to calculating the probability of environmental impact of GM crops vs conventional crops.

He has also worked on examining the effect of coexistence measures to avoid cross-fertilisation between GM and conventional crops on GM crop adoption in the EU as well as analysing the distances needed to limit cross fertilisation between GM and non-GM maize in Europe.

Recently, he has conducted consultancy work for Fundación ANTAMA on the role of genetically modified soy as a raw material in the EU. A number of alternatives to the use of genetically modified soy were assessed to analyse the economic impact to the Spanish fodder industry and livestock farming sector of a potential EU ban on the imports. The report can be found here. More recently, he has conducted a second report for Fundación ANTAMA on the "Benefits of Bt maize in Spain (1998-2015). Benefits from an economic, social and environmental viewpoint.". This second report can be accessed here. Recently, Francisco has led a third report for Fundación ANTAMA on "Sustainability of Bt maize in Spain (1998-2021): An economic, social and environmental analysis", which can be accessed here.


Francisco has also worked on:

Investigating the links between individual's voting choices on the 2016 Brexit referendum and individual's personality traits along with individual's cooperative behaviour, their level of tryst in the UK and the European Council and socio-demographics

Investigating the relationships between remote sensing and real crop (ground data) in order to create a predictive system for crop production potential. In this research Francisco worked as Knowledge Base Supervisor of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project -collaboration between Armajaro and the University of Reading-.  

Developing a land use model of the 2003 CAP reform 

Funded research/consultancy

2022-2025 Sus-Health - UKRI (Co-I, WP lead)

2021  Sustainability of Bt maize in Spain (1998-2020): An economic, social and environmental analysis – ANTAMA (PI consultancy)

2020-21 SOILCARE – EU Horizon 2020 (Co-I, WP lead)

2020  Farm efficiency and eco-efficiency of rice farms from the Luzon survey (1966-2016) - IRRI (PI consultancy)

2018-19 Achieving Sustainable Intensification using Remote Sensing: Evidence from STB and Yangxin County, Shandong Province -  Agri-Tech in China: Newton Network , Small Projects Awards (PI)

2016-18 Knowledge Transfer Partnership - Armajaro Asset Management LLP and University of Reading (Knowledge Base Supervisor)

2015 Genetically modified soya: Evaluating alternatives and economic impact for the feed industry and livestock sector in Spain -ANTAMA (PI consultancy)

2014-2016 Sustainable Intensification Platform – Defra (CI)

2013-2014 Assessing the Impacts of Shamba Shape Up – Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) (CI)

2013-2014 Incorporating environmental indicators into technical efficiency analysis of FBS data - UK Rural Business Research (CI)

2013 An evidence-based review on the likely economic and environmental

impact of genetically modified cereals and oilseeds for UK agriculture – HGCA (CI)

2006-2009 ESRC/DEFRA PhD studentship (PI)

2006  A management decision tool for mink, DEFRA (PI)

2004-2006 Sustainable Introduction of Genetically Modified Crops into European Agriculture (SIGMEA), DEFRA/EC (CI)

2005-2009 GM and non-GM supply chains: their co-existence and traceability (CO-EXTRA), DEFRA/EC (CI)

2004-2005 A feasibility study of native oyster (Ostrea edulis) stock regeneration in the United Kingdom, DEFRA (CI)

2004-2005 Assessment of regional impacts of CAP reform in Yorkshire and Humberside, Yorkshire Forward (CI)

2004-2005 CAP reform and associated regulations: Development of a model to characterise impacts at farm, region and national level, DEFRA (CI)

2004-2005 Trade and environment: Integrating economic and environmental drivers for the sustainable export of cut flowers to the UK from East Africa, DEFRA (CI)

2003-2004 Measuring the value of tree species at risk from Phytophthora ramorum using contingent valuation: a pilot study, DEFRA (CI)


PhD supervision

Francisco is currently co-supervising 3 PhD students at Newcastle:

Cynthia Olumba (with Prof. Guy Garrod)

Ransford Karbo (with Prof. Lynn Frewer)

Alec Jacobs (with Prof. Guy Garrod)


Francisco has supervised 5 PhD students to completion:

Caroline Harkness (with Dr. Jake Bishop -University of Reading, Dr, Mikhail Semenov and Dr. Ian Shield - Rothamsted Research) - Optimising agriculture for a changing climate: which farming practices confer stability of food production and farm income? - University of Reading, UK

Samal Kaliyeva (with Dr. Yiorgos Gadanakis - University of Reading) - Evaluating policies aiming at improving milk production in Kazakshtan - University of Reading, UK

Omotuyole Ambali (with Prof. Nikos Georgantzis) - Risk and time preferences and spatial dependence in Improved Rice Technology Adoption Decisions: Evidence from Nigeria - University of Reading, UK

Rui Catarino (with Prof. Julian Park and Dr. Graziano Ceddia) - Modelling the effect of Bt maize introduction on pest dynamics, insecticide use and economic returns to farmers - University of Reading, UK

Inbehe Upkong (with Prof. Kelvin Balcombe) - Valuing the Environmental and Livelihood Impacts of the Oil and Gas Industry: A choice experiment on the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria - University of Reading, UK



ACE1040 - Academic and Professional Skills

ACE2006 - Agriculture Economics and Policy (Module leader)

ACE2012 - Consumer and Business Economics (Module leader)

ACE3078 - Data and Marketing Analytics (Module leader)



Francisco's approach to teaching

Francisco's approach to teaching is to promote and incorporate applied learning into modules. Francisco's modules combine economic theory and application so students have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the topic but also learn hot to use state of the art economic and statistical techniques using data and  programming tools (e.g. using R). Francisco's assessments are designed in a way that students have the  opportunity to learn how to apply these economic, statistical and programming tools into real situations.


Francisco has been conducting teaching activities for 15 years (since 2007) and has taught a variety of subjects within economics at UG and PG levels including

2011-2019 Resource and Environmental Economics (MSc, Module convenor, University of Reading)

2011-2019 Policy Analysis (MSc, Module convenor, University of Reading)

2011-2017 Individual Project (3rd year UG, Module convenor, University of Reading)

2007-2009 Economics for Managers (1st year UG, seasonal lecturer, University of Reading)

2007-2009 Introductory Microeconomics (1st year UG, seasonal lecturer, University of Reading)

2007-2009 Introductory Macroeconomics (1st year UG, seasonal lecturer, University of Reading)

2007-2009 Introductory Microeconomics (1st year UG, seasonal lecturer, University of Reading)

2007-2008 Quantitative techniques (1st year UG, seasonal lecturer, University of Reading)

In addition Francisco's has been invited to deliver a module on Econometrics and Time Series to MSc students at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Greece (2016/17 and 2018/19).