China, not America, is the most attractive food and beverage export market

The countries have long been involved in a skirmish to emerge as the main dominant player in the world of global trade. China, however, came up ‘trumps’ when it comes to being the top destination for food and beverage exports. The country displaced U.S. from the top slot as per the 2016 IESE Food and Beverage Attractiveness (FBA) Index.   U.S. is now placed second while Germany secured the 3rd spot. Germany continues to be the most attractive European destination.

United Kingdom, India, Japan, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada are the other countries in the ranking’s top 10. Representing their respective regions for the first time are Australia in 18th place and UAE at 22nd. Another new entrant is Singapore, which has recently enhanced legal conditions for exportation regardless of its relatively small population.

82 food and beverage export destinations were analysed for the study, conducted by IESE Professor Jaume Llopis, researcher Júlia Gifra and Deloitte.

The fourth consecutive report measures countries based on six parameters: food and beverage import volumes, population, legal framework and security, the number of middle class households, food and beverage consumer spending per capita, and GDP per capita.


China houses the world’s largest middle class and is the most populous country in the world. These are indications of future growth in spending as is the rise in urbanisation rates and economic expansion. China also boasts of huge megacities that can be considered as markets themselves. To give you a clear idea, China’s five largest cities are home to 10 million each. It’s largest city Shanghai has 23 million people.

Though the United States has been pushed to the second slot, when it comes to the food and beverage imports indicator, it scores the highest. Population wise, the country ranks 3rd globally. In terms of ease of business, U.S. is one of the top 10.

Germany meanwhile can attribute its position to its total spending on food and beverage imports, its exponential middle class, per capita GDP and stable legal framework.

Going by the food categories, China emerges as the top market for bakery and cereal products and the U.S. for fish, fruits and vegetables. Japan is the market to target for meat exports, while India (2nd populous nation) is the number 1 choice for fats and oils and sugar products. Eggs and dairy? Germany is the top export market.

Region wise, Europe remains the most attractive, accounting for five of the 10 spots. Six more European countries place in the top 20: Belgium (12th), Spain (13th), Switzerland (14th), Norway (15th), Sweden (16th) and Russia (20th). Asia is also another attractive region. Other than having India, China and Japan in the top 10, Hong Kong and Singapore have snagged slots for economic growth and middle class.

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