Saudi Arabia imports almost 70 per cent of its food requirements, according to an economic study conducted by the Saudi Agriculture Exhibition, which noted that the Kingdom pays 90 billion Saudi riyals ($24 billion) annually in return for food.
The study, which was released on Tuesday, noted that food expenditure in Saudi Arabia constitutes 26 per cent of all consumer spending and predicted that food consumption will significantly increase by 55.3 per cent to reach 424 billion riyals ($113 billion) by 2016.
Saudi Arabia’s commodity imports declined by 8.2 per cent, to reach 51.5 billion riyals ($13.7 billion) in June, compared to 56 billion riyals ($15 billion) a year ago, according to a report issued by the Department of Statistics and Information this month.
Dr Khalid Al-Ruwais, who holds the King Abdullah Chair for Food Security at the King Saud University, told Anadolu last year that the annual bill for food imports amounted to about 80 billion riyals ($21.3 billion), signalling a sizeable increase this year.
The latest study reported that the increasing youth population within Saudi society is an important catalyst behind the growth of demand for packaged food products that are imported from abroad.
The Saudi food market is expected to remain in a boom for at least five years to come, especially with the government’s support for this sector. The Saudi government subsidises the private sector to pump more investments into the food market with the aim of achieving food security.
The reserve assets of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the Kingdom’s central bank, increased in April – for the second month in a row – by 0.6 per cent to record its highest levels ever, reaching 2,766 trillion riyals ($737.7 billion), compared to its level last March at 2,751 trillion riyals.
The annual inflation rate in Saudi Arabia fell to 2.6 per cent in July, compared to 2.7 per cent in June 2014, according to the base year of 2007.
By Fares Karam, Anadolu news agency