Saudi Arabia, the Middle East's biggest economy, and Egypt, the region's largest consumer market, are both net importers of meat. At 32 million, Saudi Arabia’s population size is around a third of Egypt's but the kingdom imported 50 percent more meat in 2016 than the North African nation.
In 2016, Egypt imported a total of $147.4 million of live animals and $1.4 billion in meat, according to data from ITC Trade Map based on United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade). In the same year, its live animals exports reached $17.7 million and it sold $6.9 million in meat to the world.
Saudi Arabia bought $898.5 million of live animals and $2.1 billion of meat in 2016, according to ITC Trade Map data. The kingdom sold $63.5 million of live animals and $168.8 million of meat to the world in the same year.
WHAT ARE THEY EATING?
Poultry is Saudi Arabia's choice of meat and its consumption has been increasing for the kingdom's residents even as the consumption of other meats remains constant. The kingdom imported a total of $1.5 billion in poultry in 2016, equivalent to around 71 percent of its total meat imports. Brazil supplied $1.25 billion of poultry to Saudi Arabia in 2016.
Saudi residents consumed 44.47 kilograms of poultry per capita in 2016, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Saudi Arabia imports a very large volume and value of live animals - $898.5 million in 2016, $463.9 million from Sudan and $304.3 million from Somalia – due to the Eid al Adha feast of sacrifice when at least 1 million cows, sheep and camels are slaughtered. Most of the meat is sent to other countries, led by the Saudi Project of Utilization of Hajj Meat that is managed by the Islamic Development Bank. The exact breakdown of Eid al Adha meat consumed within the kingdom is not available.
For Egypt, frozen bovine was its largest meat import in 2016, equivalent to $1 billion. Brazil was Egypt's top exporter of frozen meat of bovine animals, reaching $591.6 million in 2016. India was second on $376.9 million.
Egyptians consumed almost the same volume of beef and veal, and poultry in 2016: 9.27 kilograms per capita of beef and veal, and 9.26 kilograms per capita of poultry.
RED MEAT PREFERENCES
Saudis prefer sheep meat over beef and veal, consuming 5.286 kilogram per capita of sheep in 2016 compared to 3.83 kilograms per capita of beef and veal in the same year.
The situation is the reverse in Egypt where residents consumed 9.27 kilograms per capita of beef and veal compared to only 1.26 kilograms per capita of sheep meat, according to OECD data.
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