Lebanon Businessnews News

Food exports grow by
50 percent since 2019
Mainly driven by fruit sales,

UAE is top export destination

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Agricultural food exports grew by 51 percent to $949 million over the period 2019-2021 mainly driven by a surge in fruit exports especially grapes, according to the ‘Agri-food Exports 2019-2021’ report recently released by Fair Trade Lebanon, an NGO that supports small producers and food processing cooperatives.

Exports of the fruits and nuts category, which is mainly made up of fruits, soared 5.6 times over the period to $404 million. Exports of grapes surged 16 times from just $14.5 million in 2019 to $234 million in 2021.

“The agri-food products that have an important export potential include fruits such as apples, cherries, and grapes, in addition to preparations of vegetables, Lebanese ethnic sauces and condiments like pickles and tarator, and flavored mineral and aerated water,” said Laurent-Marc Gharzani, Manager for Consulting Services at LEAD Expertise which is a consultancy firm focused on alternative economic development.

Exports of beverages, spirits, and vinegar increased 64 percent over the period to $97 million. More than half of this category consisted in 2021 of flavored and aerated water exports which increased 2.5 times over the period.

Exports of sauces, condiments, and similar food preparations grew by 49 percent to $67 million.

The food categories that have witnessed a decline in their exports are confectionary products whose exports fell by 45 percent to $12 million and preparations of cereals, flour, starch, and milk whose exports dropped 15 percent to $35 million.

In 2021, four countries, UAE, Qatar, USA, and Kuwait, accounted for half of Lebanese agri-food exports. UAE was the top export destination. Agri-food exports to this country surged 5.7 times over the 2019-2021 period to $264 million and represented 28 percent of the total. Saudi Arabia, which was the top export destination in 2019, lost this position in 2021, following its ban on imports from Lebanon due to political reasons.

In 2021, the USA held the lion’s share in five out of ten food categories, according to the report. Gharzani said: “Anything that is labeled Lebanese is in high demand in the US market. They are looking for Lebanese Mediterranean flavors, and not just plain products such as wheat, potatoes, parsley, and other common products. They can import such products from larger countries like Egypt.” He said that Lebanon cannot compete in this category of products and that innovation and Lebanese ethnic agri-food products have high potential for export markets. According to Gharzani, there are many new innovative Lebanese products that are currently trending such as hummus mix with truffle.

Reported by Teymour Younes
Date Posted: Jul 29, 2022
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