Food Importers and Food Import Trends in Saudi Arabia – BestFoodImporters 2024 Update

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Saudi Arabia, a “fossil fuel superpower” is one of the top twenty economies in the world, a country with a business-friendly and trade-oriented environment. From 1990, the value of food imports rose at an annual growth rate of 7.9%, and the country’s food market is expected to continue to grow annually by 4% until 2028. . Food imports also continued to rise especially for cereals, rice, meat, and dairy products.

With only 1.5 percent of its overall land area classified as arable, Saudi Arabia is unable to domestically produce a sufficient output of agri-food products to meet local market demand, let alone a growing appetite for a wide range of foods and gourmet products.

The harvested area in Saudi Arabia is less than 1 million hectares (10,000 km2), a fraction of the share in similar markets by land area and geography such as Mexico. Therefore, the kingdom imports more than 80% of its food requirements from foreign countries like Germany, the USA, China, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands. Other major suppliers of food products for the Saudi market are India, Egypt and Brazil.

The vast majority of the food products are imported by the private sector and are subject to a 5% import duty while coffee, tea, and fresh red meat enter the country duty-free. Selected processed food products, however, are assessed higher import duties.

The Russia – Ukraine war also has a significant impact on the global food market, prices, and dynamics and even more on countries that are highly dependent on imports. Undoubtedly, the increase in food import costs for food commodities results in a surge in the import expenditure and a growth in the deficit within the food trade balance in Saudi Arabia. This is most evident for products such as meat, dairy products, grains and vegetable oils.

Promising food sectors that will grow in the next period

Saudi Arabia’s Gross Domestic Product exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in history and its consumers are becoming more and more refined, demanding new products and fresh trends. Saudi Arabia’s food importers are adapting to these demands and ar focusing on a number of products that are expected to do very well in the next period of time:  processed meat,  seafood, ready-made meals, baby food, ice cream, breakfast cereals, processed fruits and vegetables, beverages.

The fast-growing segment of restaurants which are in between Michelin-star locations and fast food places also drives the import of high-quality, gourmet food ingredients. The food importers in Saudi Arabia are looking for partners in Italy, France and Spain who can provide top quality cheese, pasta, sauces and other delicatessens.


Saudi Arabia is a major importer of cereals, with a value of around US$$4.3 billion.  In the top of most imported cereals rice places first, followed by barley, corn, and wheat.

WHEAT- SAGO is the exclusive importer of subsidized food-grade wheat in Saudi Arabia. The major food suppliers of wheat are the USA, Germany, Lithuania, and Poland.

BARLEY- Imported barley is used for animal feed, as there is no beer production in Saudi Arabia. Approximately 80% of imported barley is fed to sheep, camels, and goats without further processing in combination with green forage. Imports of barely are expected to decrease by over 20% as the local livestock farming sector is suffering significant changes.

CORN- However, the import of corn is expected to rise by over 30% due to a refocus and development of the poultry sector.

RICE- Saudi Arabia’s rice per capita consumption is estimated at 35 kg/year. The major supplier of rice until 2017 was India, but due to the shortage of production, it couldn’t supply all the kingdom’s needs. Nowadays, Pakistani and Thailand supply rice, along with India.


There is a high demand for meat, especially for halal and red meat, having an import value of approx. US$1,5 million. The suppliers are Brazil (79.1%), France (18.2%), U.S. (1.2%) and Argentina (1.1%).

The biggest demand is for beef with US$426 million and the biggest supplier is India, followed by Brazil, Australia and the USA.

Dairy Products

Saudi Arabia’s milk and dairy sector is expected to reach USD 5.84 billion in 2024, the fastest-growing distribution channel being off trade. Cheese, along with milk cream, was the most searched product.

The major suppliers are New Zeeland, USA, and the United Arab Emirates.

Fruits and Vegetables

Another category that saw a rise in imports is fresh fruits, especially exotic fruits and fresh vegetables. In the category of exotic fruits, bananas, watermelons, apples, and pineapples are highly requested and Latin America remains the major supplier.

In the case of vegetables, China, Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey and Australia represent the biggest suppliers. Imports reached US$126.08 million for this segment.

Some of the main food retailers in Saudi Arabia are: Panda Retail, Carrefour, Othaim Supermarket Farm Superstores, Chain, BinDaWood Holding, Al Raya Supermarkets, Tamimi Super Markets, Lulu Hyper/Supermarkets.


1. Al Rasheed Trading
Address: P.o Box 28411, Riyadh
Phone: 0096614727741
Top products imported: Various Ethnic Foods

2. Al Kabli Holding
Address: P.o. Box: 3311, Jeddah
Phone: 00966126686000
Top products imported: Chocolate, Candy, Biscuits, Cookies

3. FoodzWay
Address:King Abdullah Road
Riyadh, Riyadh Province Principality, 13216
Phone: 00966 9200 14787
Top products imported: Fish & Seafood

To get access to a list of more active food importers from Saudi Arabia, you can access one of the BestFoodImporters databases.

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