Kazakhstan’s top 5 food & drink import groups

Kazakhstan’s top 5 food & drink import groups

Over 17 million people call Kazakhstan home, so Central Asia’s largest country has an awful lot of mouths to feed. The answer? Food and drink imports.

Kazakhstan imports billions of dollars’ worth of food and drink items annually, and many buyers prefer imported goods over home grown produce.

With that in mind, let’s see what the most popular products in Kazakhstan are (data below has been taken from the MIT Atlas of Economic Complexity, a trade database listing material trade between Kazakhstan and its partners).

These are the top 5 food & drink import groups in Kazakhstan

Based on 2016’s statistics, Kazakhstan’s import profile is a mix. All developing nations are increasingly diversifying their tastes, and Kazakhstan is no different.

After all, the nation lies in between Europe and Asia, so cultures and cuisines have been mingling and fusing for millennia there. Kazakhs enjoy foreign cuisines. Their tastes are more international than ever.

So, what’s on the menu for Kazakh importers? Let’s find out.

Chocolate - $151m imports

Confectionery and Kazakhstan enjoy a very sweet relationship. The entire market is worth $750 million, and, according to MIT data, $151m of the sector is made up by chocolate imports.

What do we mean when we say chocolate imports? In this context, it means all products including chocolate, but not raw goods like cocoa powder. This means chocolate bars, filled bars, cookies, and so on.

Russia is Kazakhstan’s chief chocolate supplier with exports worth $119 million. Ukraine takes the second place with $29.4 million, while Germany is the third largest exporter of chocolate items to the Kazakh market. Germany’s exports total around $12.8 million a year.

Poultry meat - $131m imports

Meat’s a big part of Kazakh cuisine. It always has been, and probably always will be. Poultry in particular features in many favourite meals – which explains Kazakhstan’s big appetite for imported poultry.

Kazakhstan is a regional exporter of poultry meat, but it is actually not a net exporter. Imports were eighteen times higher than exports in 2016, at 165,560 tons against 8,779 tons exported out of the country.

In terms of suppliers, the United States dominates proceedings. In 2016, it held a 62% share of Kazakhstan’s poultry imports, valued at $81.2 million. Russia, Kazakhstan’s biggest trading partner, holds the second largest market share, at $30.4 million, controlling 23% of the market.

Tea - $112m imports

Tea is quite easily the national drink of Kazakhstan. The nation is a top ten tea consumer, with 1.54kg consumed by Kazakhs every year, and domestic production is far outweighed by domestic demand.

What does that mean? Quite simply, imports.

Let’s paint a picture as to why tea is a popular import product. Statistics from the Committee on Statistics of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2014 show the nation produced 21,000 tons of tea that year. Meanwhile, consumption stood at 59,100 tons. Such a gap can only be filled by foreign products.

As such, Kazakh tea buys from the biggest tea producers worldwide, including India, Sri Lanka and Kenya, to fill supply gaps.

Packaged black tea is the real product of choice, with imports totalling close to $90 million annually.

Pitted fruits - $97m imports

Kazakhstan is blessed with thousands of square miles of agrarian land, and 9 of the 11 climate zones found around the globe. Despite such advantages, Kazakh agriculture is underdeveloped. Fruit and vegetable imports are a vital lifeline for Central Asia’s largest economy.

Pitted fruits, such as cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums, are subsequently the fourth largest food and drink import group.

Some fruits are more popular than others. The import split in this segment looks like this:

  • Cherries - $41.9m
  • Peaches & nectarines - $25.3m
  • Apricots - $18.9m
  • Plums - $10.9m

Fruit and vegetables are a highly lucrative part of Kazakhstan’s import agenda, which also explains the fifth entry on this list…

Grapes - $95.5m imports

Closing off our list of the top five imported food and drink product groups in Kazakhstan is grapes. Thanks to their versatility, and great taste, grapes are popular worldwide, and Kazakhs certainly enjoy them – whether as raw materials to fuel the Kazakh food manufacturing industry or for consumers to snack on.

Think grapes and you’re probably thinking European nations. If this is the case, guess again because Kazakhstan’s top grape suppliers aren’t located in Europe at all.

According to MIT Atlas data, Uzbekistan, with its exports valued at $80.2 million for 2016, is the chief exporter of grapes to Kazakhstan. Its dominance is such it holds an 82% share of this particular market niche. Iran and China, with 5.5% and 3.7% shares respectively, are the second and third largest grape exporters.

Meet Kazakh importers at WorldFood Kazakhstan

If you want to meet Kazakhstan’s biggest food and drink importers, including whole salers, distributors, retailers, and HORECA representatives, to boost your international sales, you need to be at WorldFood Kazakhstan.

The event is an effective platform for promoting new products, discovering more about the local market and meeting professional buyers. If you want to grow your business leads in Central Asia’s biggest tea and coffee market, you need to attend next year’s event show.

Click here to reserve your stand.

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