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In this article, we will look at the 15 largest food importing countries in the world with insights into factors like the value and volume of food imports, and the growth rate. You can skip this part and go to 5 largest food importing countries in the world.
In today’s interconnected world, food imports have become critical to food security and economic prosperity. In 2022, food import costs globally reached nearly $2 trillion. In 2023, the global food bill will rise to $1.98 trillion, 1.5% higher than in 2022. Several factors, including population growth, urbanization, and rising incomes, drive this growth.
The quest for sustenance, driven by evolving consumption patterns, and geopolitical events, has rendered the import of foodstuffs an essential consideration for countries across the globe. The world’s challenges and opportunities constantly change the food import market. These challenges and opportunities include climate change, supply chain disruptions, technological advancements, and shifting trade agreements.
Germany is one of the largest food importing countries in the world, as its high population and limited agricultural production make it reliant on imports to meet its food needs. In 2021, Germany imported food products valued at $77.5 billion. Most of these products, about 72%, came from fellow EU member states. Among the food items imported to Germany, meat, vegetables, and oils are the top commodities.
Correspondingly, China’s remarkable growth in income and living standards, increasing urbanization, and concerns about food safety have led to a significant surge in agricultural imports over the past two decades. By 2022, China’s food imports had risen to 8.5 percent of total merchandise imports. This marks a substantial increase from the 3.9 percent seen in 2003, showcasing an average annual growth rate of 4.75 percent. China is the largest importer of key products like soybeans, corn, wheat, rice, and dairy, outpacing all other nations.
The USA holds a prominent position in the list of largest food importing countries in the world, driven by its strong consumer demand and economic strength, which create an insatiable appetite for a diverse range of international culinary commodities. The US imported food worth $171 billion in 2021 when the country’s population was 331.9 million. This is an increase of 17% from previous year when population was 329.5 million, and value of food imports was $146 million.
As Americans have become more prosperous and diverse, they have started eating more meat, tropical fruits, spices, and imported gourmet foods. The value of US imported meat in 2022 was $1.4 billion.
Smithfield Foods (NYSE:SFD), a leading meat producer in the US, experienced a significant profit increase of 51% to $536 million in first half of 2022 (1H22). This was driven by strong demand for products of Smithfield (NYSE:SFD), higher average sales prices, increased imports, and improved manufacturing efficiency. As a result, LTM (last twelve months) EBITDA of Smithfield (NYSE:SFD) was around $1.6 billion.
Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) is the largest meat producer in United States. The company has struggled in recent quarters due to rising costs and declining demand. Currently, Tyson’s market cap is around $19.44 billion. Tyson (NYSE:TSN) reported a net loss of $417 million for the June 30, 2023 quarter. This compares to a profit of $750 million in the same quarter last year. The company attributed the loss to declining sales, particularly in the pork and chicken segments.
To address this financial setback, Tyson (NYSE:TSN) has laid out a plan to shut down four chicken processing plants located in North Little Rock, Noel, Dexter, Mo., and Corydon, Ind. The closures of the four chicken processing plants are a sign that the company is facing severe challenges.
Industrias Bachoco (NYSE:IBA) is a leading poultry producer in Mexico. It is headquartered in Celaya, Mexico, and has been in business since 1952. The company has a market capitalization of $52.2 billion and a trailing twelve-month (TTM) revenue of $5.38 billion. Tweedy, Brown Company LLC, an asset management firm, highlighted Industrias Bachoco (NYSE:IBA) as one of its top picks in its Q3 2021 investor letter. The firm cited Industrias Bachoco’s strong market position in Mexico and its growth potential in US market. Industrias Bachoco (NYSE:IBA) holds top position in chicken production and second in egg production in Mexico, with market shares of 35% and 5%, respectively.
Which Countries are the Net Importers of Food in the World?
In 2021, United States led the way in importing food, spending $86.6 billion. Following closely were Germany with $44.3 billion, the United Kingdom with $34.2 billion, France with $30.9 billion, and China with $30.4 billion.
Who is the Biggest Importer of Meat and Poultry?
Japan is top meat importing country in the world. In 2021, Japan imported meat products of worth 712,511 metric tons. The top 5 countries that import the most poultry meat (including China, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France). Global meat imports reached 40 MT in 2021.
A friendly grocery store team stocking shelves with foodservice products. Editorial photo for a financial news article. 8k. –ar 16:9
For our list of the 15 largest food importing countries in the world, we used three key metrics: value of food imports, volume of food imports, and food import growth rate.
To ensure the accuracy and reliability of our analysis, we draw upon reputable indexes, i.e., Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO Stat), Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), and World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS). By integrating data from these reliable indices, we present a list of the 15 largest food importing countries in the world, shedding light on their population, food import dependency, and consumer demand patterns.
We started by scoring countries on each metric from 1 to 15 (1 indicating the highest rank and 15 the lowest in our study).
To provide a balanced evaluation, each metric was assigned a specific weight, reflecting its relative importance:
Value of food exports: 50%
Volume of food exports: 30%
Food export growth rate: 20%
By considering these specific weights of each metric, weighted averages are calculated that reflect the relative significance of each criterion. We then ranked the countries in descending order from 15 to 1 (based on the weighted average results), with 1 representing the country with the most food imports and 15 representing the country with the most minor food imports on our list.
Largest Food Importing Countries in the World
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 10.6
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 71.9
Vietnam is a rapidly growing economy with a GDP Per Capita of $394K in 2021. The country has a population of 98 million people, and the food consumption patterns are changing as the population becomes more affluent. The top five food imports to Vietnam are fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and beef.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 24.0
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 22.6
Japan is a wealthy country with a GDP of $5 trillion in 2021. However, the country is also a net food importer, with a food dependency ratio of 60%. The country spends about $70 billion annually on food imports, representing a significant foreign currency outflow. Major food items that Japan imports include fruits, fish, seafood, meat, and dairy products.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 7.0
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 21.0
Thailand has a population of approximately 69 million. In 2021, Thailand’s food imports were 6.7%, showing a fluctuating but generally increasing trend from 1972 to 2021. While it predominantly exports agricultural products such as rice, it imports essential commodities like wheat, soybeans, and dairy to complement its agricultural output.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 34.0
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 88.8
The United Kingdom recorded a GDP of approximately $3.1 trillion in 2021, underlining its financial prowess. With a population of around 68 million, the UK showcases diverse food consumption patterns driven by a multicultural society. Key food imports include fruits, vegetables, meat products, and dairy items, ensuring a consistent supply to meet the demands of its populace.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 22.0
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 7.9
Canada’s GDP is surpassing $1.6 trillion. The nation of approximately 38 million inhabitants exhibits a low food dependency rate, with around two-thirds of all produce consumed in Canada being imported. Key imports include fruits, vegetables, and seafood, often due to climate limitations on domestic production.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 16.4
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 60.2
Spain, a prominent player in the global food market, had a GDP of $1.4 trillion in 2021 and a population exceeding 47 million. Spanish food consumption patterns reflect a rich Mediterranean diet, emphasizing olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and seafood. While Spain imports various food products to meet its diverse culinary demands, it is also a significant exporter of agricultural goods, particularly in the olive oil and wine sectors.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 12.8
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 64.3
Poland is a food net importer, with a food dependency ratio of 30% in 2021—the limited availability of agricultural land. Poland has a land area of 312,685 square kilometers, of which only 23% is arable land. Poles are eating more fruits, vegetables, and processed foods, which need to be produced in sufficient quantities domestically.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 18.0
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 63.1
Italy has a $2.07 trillion GDP in 2021 and a population of more than 60 million. Italy’s global food import product share in 2021 was 3.12%. Italian food consumption patterns revolve around a rich Mediterranean diet, emphasizing pasta, olive oil, wine, and fresh produce.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 18.9
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 92.1
Belgium’s import product share towards global food import is 3.85% in 2021. With good economic growth and a strategic location in Europe, Belgium’s import of food products remains substantial. Belgian cuisine is known for its chocolate, beer, and rich dairy products.
Annual Value of food imports in 2021 (USD Billions): 30.4
Annual Volume of food imports (Million Tons): 32.7
China, a global economic powerhouse, demonstrates a multifaceted financial perspective on food imports. The country’s food self-sufficiency decreased by 27.8% from 2000 to 2020. Consequently, China imports substantial soybeans, meat, and dairy products to meet these evolving preferences.
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Disclosure. None. 15 Largest Food Importing Countries in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.