The deficit in the food trade balance has widened by 58% between 2016 and 2017 (April), reaching 490.9 million dinars, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries said on Tuesday.
The department explains the exacerbation of the deficit, by the increase in food imports by 21.9%, at a much more sustained rate than exports (+ 9.8%), due to imports of cereals, especially soft wheat and meat imports (+ 50%), as part of the preparations for the Holy month of Ramadan.
This trend resulted in a decrease in the export-import coverage ratio to 67.4% from 74.9% in April 2016.
The ministry said the value of olive oil exports reached 483.6 MD until April 30, against 412.6 MD, last year.
The value of food imports (9.8% of total imports) grew 21.9% to 1,507.8 MD. Imports of cereals jumped 25% to 679.8 MD. They took, in particular wheat (64.1% of cereal imports), the lion’s share with 45.1% of total food imports to April 2017, compared with 44% last year.
Imports of vegetable oils also rose by 55.7% to a value of 180.6 MD, while imported oil prices rose by 33.7%. As a result, sugar imports nearly doubled (+ 99.3%) and prices increased by 59.5% compared to the same period in 2016.