Countries With The Most Food Exports Relative To Total Merchandise Exports

Sugar cane and refined sugar are some of Cape Verde's most important exported foodstuffs.
Sugar cane and refined sugar are some of Cape Verde's most important exported foodstuffs.

Exports play a significant role in the development of economies around the world. Exports add to a country’s gross output and can also be used to exchange for goods and services that are in demand in the country. Exports are also important for a country’s trade balance in the international market. Food is one of the most popular export commodities in the international market today. Countries whose key economic driver is agriculture have the highest food export share relative to the total merchandise export. Food exports mainly include processed and raw agricultural products meant for consumption. Food exports vary from country to country depending on their production. Some of the countries with high levels of food exports relative to their total merchandise exports are looked at below.

Cape Verde

Agriculture plays a significant role in the island nation of Cape Verde’s economy, which is otherwise very much service oriented. Agriculture contributes mainly to food export to the international market. Food export accounts for 86% of the total merchandise export out of the country. The food exports include refined sugar, dried whole milk, Barley beer, chicken meat, processed fish, soybean oil, wheat, cow milk, maize, and beverages. Cape Verde generated revenue of $ 167 million from food export in 2014. The country export food mainly to El Salvador, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, and Italy.


Ethiopia’s economy is largely reliant on its agricultural base, which is currently accounting for 46% of the Ethiopian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 85% of the nation's total employment. Agriculture contributes to 60% of the country’s export with food export accounting for 72% of all the merchandise export. The food export is a major source of revenue with over 40% of the export revenue coming from food export. The major food exports include coffee, processed meat, live animals, oil seeds, spices, beverages, fruits and vegetables. Ethiopia’s food export destinations include Kuwait, China, Saudi Arabia, and Mongolia.


Panama food production through agriculture plays an important role not only in feeding the masses but also for export. Agriculture accounts for much of the country’s export and employment. With the Panama’s potential for agriculture, the country has invested on modern farming techniques in order to improve productivity. Agro-food takes 70% of the country’s total merchandise export. The most important food product exports in Panama include banana, shrimp, sugar, coffee and beef. Other food exports are vegetable, corn and rice. Panama’s food export destinations include Ecuador, Guatemala, South Korea, the United States, and El Salvador.


Agriculture has been one of the key forces driving the economy of Moldova. Agriculture not only contributes to the country’s domestic food basket and employment, but also a major source of food exports abroad. Agricultural production and subsequent food exports have created a trade relation between Moldova and 93 countries around the world. Moldova export food mainly to Russia, Romania, Spain, Ukraine, Italy, Belarus and France. 63% of Moldova’s merchandise exports come in the form of foodstuff exports. The country exports mainly edible fruits, beverages, oil and vegetable seeds. Moldova also uses its food export to exchange for other products such as tobacco, wood articles, and essential oil from these countries.

Other countries with large shares of food export relative to their total merchandise exports include Argentina, Paraguay, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, and Antigua and Barbuda. More than 50% of each of these countries’ merchandise exports are foodstuffs.

Countries With The Most Food Exports Relative To Total Merchandise Exports

RankCountryShare of Food Exports Among All Merchandise Exports
1Cape Verde86%
7New Zealand61%
9Antigua and Barbuda52%

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