Named for its proximity to the Earth’s equator, this small, middle-income nation remains one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, whose evolution depends on its open economy, making it an interesting target for food exporters from several sectors. Known for exporting Panama hats, Ecuador tops the eighth position in Latin America economies and is steadily increasing as a tourist destination. Despite the lingering income inequality and economic struggles, dollarization has brought stability for purchasing power as the appetite of Ecuadorians for imported foods continue to show a growing demand in quality, quantity and diversity.
To complete its limited inventory of bananas, fish, and tropical crops like cacao and coffee, excellent for the much-needed foreign exchange, Ecuador has joined the Andean Community, signing free trade agreements with Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, as well as free trade policies with the EU, the UK, Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, and Mercosur countries.
Ecuador mainly exports three foods: bananas, palm oil and cocoa. This means that there are large spaces where these are grown, monocultures that wear down the environment. In addition, many lands are under these crops at the expense of other crops that we consume in the country. Of the ten main products of the non-oil exportable commodities of Ecuador, half had a contraction in their shipments in the first month of this 2021. Bananas and plantains, shrimp, wood and processed, tuna and fish and vegetable oils are in that group that had decreases that fluctuated between -9% and -36%.
Exports to the EU, yearly (food)
It is evident that the majority of traded goods are primary, a characteristic trend of international negotiations carried out by Ecuador, since its main export products do not generate added value and neither do they incorporate new technologies or specialized labor. However, products made from sea animals, as well as fruits and vegetables have been developing, consolidating themselves in more and more international markets.
Food imports (% of merchandise imports)
Among the most important food products imported in Ecuador are fats and oils, animal feed, prepared cereal products, fruits and vegetables, sugar(local sugar prices are high) and elaborate confectionery, while the main countries from which Ecuador imports are Peru, the United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Panama, and Brazil.
Imports from the EU into Ecuador, yearly (food)
Food import trends in Ecuador are influenced by trade policies and tariffs, as well as natural climatic struggles that can significantly impact domestic production. Additionally to the scarce food production capacity and besides food items that need to be imported as there is no equivalent in the country, consumer demand and behaviour are other key factors impacting food consumption.
Ecuador’s food processing sector is one of the most successful components of the national economy. The sector benefits from stable, consistent demand for its products. Food and beverage processing companies are ramping up production output in response to increased product demand driven by population and income growth. Local processing companies are attempting to capitalize on this growth by lobbying the government for support at the expense of imported processed products.
Domestic food manufacturers rely heavily on local food ingredients. Ecuador’s government is attempting to restrict imports in order to stimulate local production and increased domestic use. The government is also aiming to increase production for regional export. Ecuadorian companies tend to import specialized food ingredients such as flavoring agents, colorants, preserving agents, and emulsifiers. Food processors import these products from the United States and the European Union as Ecuador lacks the means to manufacture these products in sufficient volumes.
Ecuador’s domestic food processing industry’s main food and beverage sub-sectors include:
- Meat, meat products and subproducts
- Processed shrimp
- Fish and other processed aquatic products
- Crude and refined animal and vegetable oils
- Processed dairy products
- Milling and bakery products, noodles and pasta
- Sugar and sugar cane products
- Processed cocoa products, chocolates, and confectionery products
- Foodstuffs various
- Beverage products
Local Market and Demand
Ecuadorian food importers prefer to be contacted directly by producers to negotiate the best sales margins. Food import trends in Ecuador are influenced by trade policies and tariffs, as well as natural climatic struggles that can significantly impact domestic production. Additionally to the scarce food production capacity and besides food items that need to be imported as there is no equivalent in the country, consumer demand and behaviour are other key factors impacting food consumption. Geographical location, irregular landscape, relatively unfavourable for agricultural production, growing population and vulnerability to floods, droughts, earthquakes and even volcanic eruptions mark Ecuador as a country that is not self-sufficient in food.
Source: World Bank staff estimates from the Comtrade database generated by the United Nations Statistics Division
Generic country information can be located from sources which are regularly maintained and reflect current facts and figures. For a general overview of country data related to the service and supply sectors, please consult the following sources:
More trade statistics including main economic indicators, GDP by sector, trade in goods and trade in commercial services are provided by the EU Commission Directorate-General for Trade on their website: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/statistics/
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