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Import Dependency

Food Import Dependency, an Overlooked and Growing Risk

The importance of food security is well documented and critical to a country’s development. The ultimate objective of food security is to ensure that people at all times have both physical and economic access to food they need. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Food Security Index is the global benchmark when it comes to food security measurement. We at AGRI Developments however feel they undervalue one key aspect of food security in their rankings – food import dependency.

The world’s wealthiest countries logically fare well in the rankings as they have the capability and infrastructure to provide accessible food to their populations. Their high rankings however dangerously mask their food import dependency. This raises the question; how can a country be food secure when they can be highly dependent on others for their food supply. Any impact on imports be it from natural disasters, war or trade restrictions can drastically alter the food security of a country.

AGRI Developments in response has developed its own measure of food security, the Global Food Import Dependency Rankings (GFIDR), which it believes should be used in tandem with other food security indices and rankings. The GIFDR are based on food net imports which indicate how reliant countries are on others to feed their populations. Countries that are highly dependent on imports should revisit their food policies and strategy so they are less susceptible to disruption.

Food Security is a rising  global challenge, learn more about it.

Global Food Import Dependency Rankings (GFIDR)

Fruits & Vegetable GFIDR & Import Value

2016, USD


Imports - Fruit & Veg-01.jpg

Countries with at least USD 200m. worth of net imports in 2016

Source: FAOSTAT & AGRI Developments

Meat GFIDR & Import Value

2016, USD


Meat - Import Rank.jpg

Countries with at least USD 150m. worth of net imports in 2016.

Source: FAOSTAT & AGRI Developments

Fruit & Vegetables: Key Findings

  • The world’s top 10 fruit & vegetable import reliant countries are comprised of 7 countries which are considered the world’s most food secure according to the EIU.

  • According to the EIU, Singapore (1st), Switzerland (7th), Norway and Sweden (12th) rank among the most food secure yet import almost USD 9 billion worth of produce combined p.a.

  • The world imports over 2x more or USD 100 billion more worth of fruits & vegetables than it does meat.

  • In terms of value, prepared and preserved fruits, bananas and vegetables (preserved and frozen) dominate global imports with USD 15 trillion, 14 trillion and 12 trillion p.a., respectively.

  • Potatoes, one of the world’s leading staples is increasingly being imported. It is the fourth most imported fruit & vegetable with USD 11 trillion imported p.a.

Meat & Livestock: Key Findings

  • 8 out of the top 10 worlds most meat import reliant countries where also found to be the most import reliant on fruits & vegetables as well.

  • Beef and pork are the most imported meat representing 35% and 33% respectively of total meat import value.  This includes all types of related products such as sausages and preparations (chopped and minced). 

  • On a category basis, meat spending per capita of the top 10 import dependent countries is 25% less than that of fruits & vegetables.


  • Spending on an individual product basis however indicates beef, pork and chicken imports are each over 2x larger than the most imported fruit & vegetable. Over 40 USD billion of beef and pork individually is imported p.a., followed by 30 USD billion of chicken.

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