The agri-food sector is a major contributor to Lebanon’s industrial sector growth and is expected to continue to play a major role in the economy, driven by government support and private sector initiatives to boost its competitiveness.
KEY FACTS AND FIGURES:
In 2018, the agri-food sector was the largest contributor to the industrial sector output accounting for 38% of industrial output and generating 2.9% of the country’s GDP.
The sector has an estimated size of 1.6 billion USD and has grown at a CAGR of 9.5% over the 2010 and 2018 period
There are around 1,245 agri-food companies constituting the largest share of total industrial firms in Lebanon, with 48% located in Mount Lebanon Governorate.
Exports of agri-food products accounted for 11.7% of total exports and for 12.4% of industrial exports in 2019. Despite all external and internal challenges, agri-food exports have been growing at a CAGR of 2% since 2010, highlighting the sector’s potential and resilience.
Lebanese agri-food production is diversified with a wide range of traditional and innovative products being exported to regional and international markets. Top 3 exported agri-food products in 2019 included dried fruits and nuts (10% of total), followed by processed chocolate (8%) and other vegetables and food preparations (7%).
Arab countries are importing the highest share of Lebanese agri-food products, accounting for 48% of total agri-food exports in 2019 with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Iraq and Kuwait importing more than 35%.
Large and diversified agriculture land: Lebanon has the largest agriculture land share from its territory in the Middle East at 63%, supporting the development of a competitive agriculture processing sector.
Skilled labor force with competitive wages: The agri-food sector benefits from a cost-effective labor force that can support its development and growth. In 2018, around 30,000 students were enrolled in Engineering and Agri-food studies.
Government support: the government of Lebanon has placed the agri-food sector as a key priority to develop and support through its various technical and financial services including tax incentives, technical assistance and others.
International treaties and agreements: Lebanon’s agri-food exporters benefit from favorable terms and access to external markets due to a considerable number of bilateral and multilateral agreements including GAFTA and EFTA.
Wine: Lebanese wine have reached global reach with high penetration rates in countries with large diaspora population. Wine exports reached USD 21 million in 2019 with the UK (33%) and USA (17%) topping the destinations.
Olive oil: Lebanon’s olive oil exports performed well over the years, growing at a CAGR of 6% during the 2010-2019 period, leaving room for various investment opportunities in the production of extra virgin olive oil from new varieties of olive.
Dried fruits and nuts: Lebanon’s dried fruits and nuts value chain can be reshaped to create higher value products and become a consistent supplier to untapped regional markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Spain.
Chocolate: Lebanon is a main supplier of chocolate for GCC countries offering premium chocolate pieces in sophisticated packages. Local brands have the capacity to tap into wealthier emerging markets with new healthier chocolate produces.
Dairy products: The availability of livestock in the country paves the way for important investment opportunities in manufacturing high-quality dairy-based goods.