GCC's Food Import Bill Set to Jump in 2017



Extremely hot and arid climatic conditions, limited arable land and inadequate water resources in the GCC have resulted in a high dependency on food imports. Even as the food demand continues to grow, domestic food production remains a challenge in the region. The food imports value in the Gulf increased at an annualized rate of 11.2 percent to USD23.6 billion in 2014, according to a recent report by Alpen Capital, and at this rate could reach USD32.43 billion in 2017. Food consumption in the GCC is expected to expand at a CAGR of 4.2 percent from an estimated 48.1 million MT in 2016 to 59.2 million MT in 2021. This growth is primarily attributable to increase in the consumer base coupled with a higher per capita income, as the GCC economies recover from the recent downturn. 

High dependence on food imports tends to expose the GCC nations to the fluctuations in international food prices. The significant increase in the prices during 2008, caused by rising oil prices and droughts in grain-producing nations, gave rise to food inflation in the import-dependent GCC countries. Although the drop in oil prices have led to a substantial fall in global food rates from the highs touched during 2011-2014, prices have again started trending upwards since March 2016.

The May’s issue of the Middle East Food (MEF) magazine covers the latest in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) food industry, including new innovations, projects and events. On page 10, we tackle the Middle East and Africa active and intelligent packaging market, which is estimated to grow from USD280 million in 2016 to USD504.76 million by the end of 2021. On page 17, MEF conducted an exclusive interview with Kamal Mouzawak Founder of Souk el-Tayeb, farmers’ market in Beirut, to highlight the latest concepts and trends in the Lebanese hospitality industry. Moreover, the article on page 33 sheds light on how Egypt is implementing new strategies to advance the agriculture sector. Additional stories are also available, covering the latest activities of regional manufacturers, importers and exporters, so enjoy reading and send us your feedback at content@cphworldmedia.com

Fathi Chatila
Editor-in-Chief