Countries With The Least Food Exports Relative To All Merchandise Exports

Agricultural fields in the Wadi As-Sirhan Basin, Saudi Arabia. The largely deserted landscape results in poor home grown food crop production in the country.

Food Exports

In some areas of the world, large tracts of land are used to produce agricultural that is then either consumed by the nation’s residents or exported to other countries. Agriculture often makes up a large percentage of an economy’s exports. But, that is not the case in several countries where food exports relative to merchandise exports can be as low as 1%. This article takes a look at the countries with the lowest percentages of food exports.


Being a relatively small island nation, Japan tends to import more food products than export. Food makes up only 1% of the country’s total exports, the 4th largest export economy in the world. These food exports include sauces and seasonings, processed crustaceans, and other edible preparations. Agricultural products include seeds for planting, apples, pears, and tea. The majority of these exports go to Hong Kong.

Saudi Arabia

Of Saudi Arabian exports, only 2% are food items. Saudi Arabia has an unfriendly climate for agriculture as it is covered in large deserts although, the government has converted some of this area into croplands. Just over one-fifth of its food exports consist of flavored water and fruit juice makes up another 19%. These products are imported by Yemen (its biggest food importer), Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman.


Finland’s exports also consist of 2% food items. Most agricultural activity in this country is for subsistence purposes, and the number of crop producing farms has declined recently. Hard liquor is its biggest food export, making up 20% of the category. Together, Poland and Russia import 27% of it. Baked goods (11%) and chocolate (11%) make up the second biggest percentage, and roughly half of each of these exports go to Sweden and Russia. Of agricultural exports, oats and barley make up over 40%.


China has a very large area of arable land and produces food for 20% of the world’s population. Its export economy is the largest in the world which explains how only 3% of its exports are edible items yet still provide one-fifth of the world with food. The country's top 3 food items are processed crustaceans, processed fruit and nuts, and processed fish. China also exports small percentages of onions, dried vegetables, and tea. The majority of these products are imported by Japan.


Singapore is the 20th largest export country in the world and of its products, 3% are food items. The country mainly exports edible preparations, hard liquor, and malt extract. Agricultural exports include pepper (21%) and rice (16%). Vietnam, Australia, and China are major importers of these goods.


The Slovak economy has had over 10% growth over the last decade. It has mainly focused its imports on vehicles and vehicle parts. Although 40% of the land is dedicated to agriculture, this sector has decreased its labor force since 1994. What is produced is typically for national consumption. The country exports chocolate, sugars, baked goods, wheat, corn, and edible preparations. These go to other countries in the European Union like the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and the UK.


Like Slovakia, Switzerland’s export market also consists of only 4% of foodstuffs. This economy is the 17th largest in the world, and its main food exports include: flavored water, chocolate, and rolled tobacco. The United States imports 39% of the flavored water, Germany imports 30% of the chocolate, and Japan imports 28% of the rolled tobacco. Of its agricultural exports, coffee takes up 72% and is mainly imported by France.


Slovenia’s relatively small export economy consists of 4% food items. The biggest portion of these exports, 22%, is soybean meal. Other items take up much smaller percentages like edible preparations (8.9%) and prepared meat (6.7%). Agricultural exports include corn, bananas, and soybeans. The majority of its exports stay within the European Union and go to Hungary, Italy, and Croatia.


At 5% is Russia, the world’s 10th largest export economy. Approximately 11% of its foodstuffs exports is chocolate, 10% is rolled tobacco, and 8.8% is vegetable residues. This country also has a large agricultural sector and therefore exports large quantities of wheat, the majority of which is imported by Egypt.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has the 30th largest export economy in the world and mainly exports computer and office-type equipment. Food makes up 5% of its exports. Major foodstuffs to leave the country include rolled tobacco, animal food, and baked goods which are imported by Italy, Slovakia, and Poland. Its agricultural food exports include mainly wheat and rapeseed, the vast majority of which (75% and 79% respectively) is imported by Germany.

Countries With The Least Food Exports Relative To All Merchandise Exports

RankCountryFood Exports Relative To All Merchandise Exports
2Saudi Arabia2%
10Czech Republic5%

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