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Fri 19 Aug 2011 09:56 AM

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Saudi Arabia reports 23% drop in H1 food imports

Food shipments to Arab world's largest economy falls to 7.8m tonnes, according to ports data

Saudi Arabia reports 23% drop in H1 food imports

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest importer of barley, reported a 23 percent drop in food imports in the first half of this year after stockpiling grain.

Food shipments to the Arab world’s largest economy, which relies on imports to feed its population of 27 million, fell to 7.8 million tonnes from January through June from 10 million tonnes in the same period last year, the Saudi Port Authority said on its website.

“The country imported large volumes of barley and wheat last year as prices were lower than this year, and this resulted in a large amount of the cereals stockpiled at the beginning of this year,” John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Riyadh-based Banque Saudi Fransi, said.

Total imports went down in the first half by 0.8 percent on lower food and cars imports, while shipments of building materials and consumer goods to the kingdom rose, the data showed.

Imports amounted to 32.6 million tonnes in the first half, with food and building materials accounting for almost half of the total, the ports data showed.

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