Net Food Exporters

Net Food Exporters

How the World’s Net Food Exporters Feed the Planet

The world’s population is growing rapidly, and so is the demand for food. But not all countries produce enough food to meet their own needs, let alone export to others. Some countries, however, have a surplus of food production and are able to sell their products to the global market. These countries are called net food exporters, and they play a vital role in ensuring food security and stability for millions of people around the world.

What are net food exporters?

A net food exporter is a country or territory whose value of exported goods is higher than its value of imported goods over a given period of time. In other words, a net food exporter produces more food than it consumes, and sells the excess to other countries that need it. Net food exporters can be classified by the type of food they export, such as cereals, meat, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, etc.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the value of global agricultural exports in 2020 was 3.7 times higher in nominal terms than it was in 2000, while the share of agriculture in total merchandise trade value went from 6.3 percent in 2000 to 8.5 percent in 2020. Fruit and vegetables accounted for 22 percent of the total value of food (excluding fish) exports in 2020, followed by cereals and preparations (16 percent) and meat and meat preparations (12 percent).

Which countries are net food exporters?

The FAO also provides data on the net trade of agricultural commodities by region and country. The data shows that two regions stand out in terms of net trade: the Americas as the largest net exporter with a USD 133 billion surplus in 2020, and Asia as the largest net importer, posting a USD 214 billion deficit in 2020. Europe became a net food exporter in 2013.

Among the net exporters of food we find the majority of South American countries, with the exception of Venezuela and Suriname, the United States, Canada, Mauritania, Indonesia, Australia, and a few African countries such as Mauritania, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The top three net food exporters in 2020 were China (USD 426 billion), Germany (USD 297 billion), and Ireland (USD 129.7 billion). China exports mainly cereals, meat, fruits and vegetables, while Germany and Ireland export mainly dairy products, meat and beverages.

Why are net food exporters important?

Net food exporters are important for several reasons. First, they contribute to global food security by providing food to countries that cannot produce enough for their own population or face shortages due to natural disasters, conflicts or economic crises. Net food exporters also help stabilize food prices by increasing the supply of food in the global market and reducing price volatility.

Second, net food exporters benefit from their trade by generating income from their exports and creating jobs for their farmers and agribusinesses. Net food exporters can also use their trade surplus to invest in their own development and diversify their economy.

Third, net food exporters can influence global policies and negotiations on trade, agriculture and environment by using their bargaining power and leverage. Net food exporters can also promote cooperation and dialogue among countries on issues such as food safety standards, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

Net Food Exporters and Global Demand

Net food exporters are countries that produce more food than they consume and sell the surplus to other countries. Net food exporters play a crucial role in ensuring global food security and market stability, especially for net food importers that depend on external sources of food supply. In this blog post, we will examine the trends and factors that affect the global demand for food from net food exporters, and how they can respond to the challenges and opportunities in the changing world.

Global Demand for Food: Drivers and Projections

The global demand for food is influenced by several factors, such as population growth, income growth, urbanization, dietary changes, climate change, trade policies, and shocks. According to the FAO, the world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, which implies an increase in food demand by 50 percent compared to 2013 levels. Moreover, income growth and urbanization in developing countries will lead to a shift in dietary preferences towards more animal-based products, fruits, vegetables, and processed foods, which require more resources and inputs to produce. Climate change will also affect the availability and quality of land, water, and biodiversity, as well as the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, pests, and diseases, which will have implications for food production and trade. Trade policies, such as tariffs, subsidies, quotas, and non-tariff measures, will also affect the competitiveness and access of net food exporters to global markets. Finally, shocks, such as pandemics, conflicts, natural disasters, and geopolitical tensions, can disrupt food supply chains and create volatility and uncertainty in food prices and trade flows.

The FAO projects that the global demand for cereals will increase by 13 percent between 2019 and 2030, while the demand for meat will increase by 14 percent, and the demand for vegetable oils will increase by 16 percent. The demand for these commodities will be driven mainly by developing regions, such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The FAO also estimates that the global trade of agricultural commodities will increase by 31 percent between 2019 and 2030, with net food exporters increasing their share of total exports from 79 percent to 81 percent.

Net Food Exporters: Challenges and Opportunities

Net food exporters face several challenges and opportunities in meeting the growing global demand for food. Some of the challenges include:

Increasing production sustainably

Net food exporters need to increase their productivity and efficiency while reducing their environmental footprint and enhancing their resilience to climate change. This requires investing in research and development, innovation, infrastructure, extension services, and adaptation measures.

Diversifying export markets and products

Net food exporters need to diversify their export destinations and products to reduce their dependence on a few markets and commodities, and to capture higher value-added segments of the global food market. This requires enhancing their quality standards, traceability systems, branding strategies, and market intelligence.

Coping with trade barriers and uncertainties

Net food exporters need to cope with the trade barriers and uncertainties that may limit their access to global markets or affect their competitiveness. This requires engaging in trade negotiations, dispute settlement mechanisms, regional integration initiatives, and risk management tools.

Some of the opportunities include:

Exploiting comparative advantages

Net food exporters can exploit their comparative advantages in terms of natural resources, labor costs, technology adoption, or institutional frameworks to gain a competitive edge in the global food market.

Leveraging digital technologies

Net food exporters can leverage digital technologies to improve their production processes, supply chain management, market access, information exchange, and consumer feedback.

Participating in value chains

Net food exporters can participate in value chains that link producers, processors, traders, retailers, and consumers across borders and regions. This can enable them to access new markets, increase their incomes, create employment opportunities, and foster innovation.


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