The Bahamas imports nearly 90 percent of its food at an annual cost of approximately $1 billion. The United States is the prime beneficiary, as Bahamians are familiar with, and prefer American brands and franchises. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes large hotels and resorts purchase 60 percent of their food and beverage products directly from U.S. suppliers. The Bahamian government has committed to increasing direct investment and is seeking private investment in the agriculture and fisheries sectors to increase their contribution to GDP from $150 million (1.5 percent) to $1.2 billion (10 percent) by 2031.
To enhance food security, promote economic diversification, and ensure market access for local producers the Bahamian government recently announced foreign investors must purchase 40 percent of all food intended for operations from local farmers and fishers. This policy is not yet supported by legislation, although several international companies have complied as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives. U.S. agricultural products exporters may face increased regulatory controls given the Bahamas Health and Food Safety Agency’s efforts to introduce new food sanitary and phytosanitary and safety standards. The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality has also been mandated to create and implement quality control standards which may pose technical hurdles. Nevertheless, commercial opportunities in these sectors are expected to remain steady or increase, particularly with the development of new high-end resorts.
In 2021, top U.S. food and agricultural exports to The Bahamas included: poultry meat and products (excluding eggs); beef and beef products; dairy products; snack food; prepared food; fruit and vegetable juices; pork and pork products; wine and beer; fresh vegetables; and non-alcoholic beverages.
U.S. food exports are sold in supermarkets, upscale stores, owner-operated outlets, fast food outlets, full-service restaurants, cafes/bars, etc. The large hotel complexes, such as Atlantis and Baha Mar, also sell primarily U.S. agricultural products. With a goverment focus on increasing domestic agriculture production, investment opportunities in the sector are expected to grow.