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Volume of food imports share in the GCC by type 2016

The largest share of food import volume in the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2016 was cereals at about 54 percent. It was followed by dairy products and fruits at about 11 percent each. The total volume of food imports in the GCC region totaled 41.9 million metric tons in 2016.

GCC food industry

Food consumption in the Gulf Cooperation Council region has been growing mainly due to the increase in population and growth in the number of tourists. The higher per capita income has also increased the demand for food. Saudi Arabia was expected to have the highest market share of food and non-alcoholic beverages among the GCC countries in 2020. Fast food restaurants had the largest market share in 2015, however, consumer preferences have been changing with increasing health awareness across the region. The higher than average rates of obesity in the GCC countries and the high death rates caused by obesity in the region have led to a change in the type of food demanded. The most demanded food type in the GCC region in 2016 were cereals.

Food production and imports

The GCC region is highly dependent on food imports. The highest food self-sufficiency ratio was for dairy products, and the lowest was for cereals. The production of food within the GCC region has been increasing to reach more than 12 million metric tons in 2016, however, imported food exceeded production to reach more than 40 million metric tons in that year. A quarter of the food production within the region was dairy products, and the highest food-producing country was Saudi Arabia. The governments have been supporting the industry in their attempt to diversify the economy from highly depending on the oil sector, in addition to the initiation of measures to reduce the food import dependency of the region.

Distribution of net food imports volume in the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2016, by type

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Release date

September 2019



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

Net food imports volume totaled 35.3 million metric tons in 2014.

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