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Oman tops GCC in per capita food consumption

7 Sep 2021 By GULAM ALI KHAN

Average person in Oman eats 930.8kg of food in a year

Oman boasts of the highest food self-sufficiency ratio amongst all the GCC countries, but it also has got the dubious distinction of being the country with the highest per capita food consumption in the region.

Sedentary lifestyle amid rapid modernisation and higher standards of living have substantially contributed to unhealthy eating habits and higher consumption of high-calorie food in Oman, according to Alpen Capital, a regional investment bank, that crunched the GCC food production and consumption data in a report published on Monday.

About 930.8kg is an estimated amount of food – by weight – an average person in Oman eats over the course of one year. Oman’s per capita food consumption was 27 per cent higher than the overall per capita consumption of 733.6kg for the GCC region in 2019, according to Alpen Capital’s ‘GCC Food Industry Report’.

The data showed that an average person in Oman consumes 30 per cent more food in a year than an average person in Saudi Arabia (713.5kg).

‘Amongst the individual nations, Oman recorded the highest per capita consumption at 930.8kg in the region, while Bahrain had the lowest at 622.0kg in 2019. Qatar (780.1kg) and Oman’s per capita food consumption remained higher than the average consumption of 733.6kg in the GCC, while UAE (730.8kg), Saudi Arabia (713.5kg), Kuwait (700.0kg) and Bahrain (622.0kg) had below average per capita consumption,’ Alpen Capital said.

The wide disparity in regional data, as per the report, comes in the light of increased consumption of fish, pulses, and vegetables in Oman vis-à-vis decline in consumption of cereals in Saudi Arabia and the UAE between 2014 and 2019.

On the other hand, total food consumption in the sultanate grew at an average annual rate of 6.6 per cent between 2014 and 2019, reaching 4.3mn metric tonnes in 2019, according to the report.

Although cereals remained the largest consumed food category in Oman with a share of 26.8 per cent, it recorded the slowest average annual growth rate at 1.3 per cent between 2014 and 2019. Consumption of fish in Oman increased at the fastest average annual rate of 21.8 per cent over the five-year period, followed by pulses with 21.1 per cent average annual rate growth.

The report noted that ‘sedentary lifestyle amid rapid modernisation and higher standards of living have substantially contributed to unhealthy eating habits and higher consumption of high-calorie food’.

‘This has led to a higher demand of organic and halal food products among the health-conscious millennial population.

As a result, both food production and consumption in Oman grew at more than double the pace of the population growth over the five-year period,’ Alpen Capital said.

Robust growth in food production

Oman’s domestic food production increased at a robust pace as a result of the sultanate’s various investments in the fisheries and agriculture sector. The country’s total food production grew at an annual growth rate of 11.8 per cent between 2014 and 2019 to reach 2.1mn metric tonnes.

The findings of Alpen Capital’s study showed that the sultanate boasts the highest food self-sufficiency ratio amongst the GCC countries, reaching 48 per cent in 2019. The overall self-sufficiency of the GCC region remained at 31.3 per cent in 2019.

As per the report, in 2019-20, Oman’s agriculture ministry announced that the domestic agriculture and fisheries sector recorded a growth of 9.8 per cent year-on-year.

The sultanate was able to meet over 50 per cent of the fruits, eggs and meat demand, and over 80 per cent of the demand for vegetables through domestic production.

The country’s self-sufficiency ratio has remained highest for fish (141.3 per cent) as of 2019, while self-sufficiency for cereal products (2.2 per cent) has been the lowest in the sultanate.

‘Increasing local production of food and reducing dependency on food imports have long been at the forefront of Oman government’s led food security initiatives,’ the report said.

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