Dominican Republic - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sector

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-05

For individuals or firms interested in exporting agricultural or food products to the Dominican Republic, please be aware that there is an office of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) located in the U.S. Embassy, Santo Domingo.  Contact information for the FAS Office of Agricultural Affairs (OAA) is as follows:

USDA-Office of Agricultural Affairs

U.S. Embassy

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Phone: (809) 368-7741

E-mail: AgsantoDomingo@fas.usda.gov

Website: https://www.fas.usda.gov/

In addition, the OAA publishes an annual Exporter Guide providing more detailed information on the structure and dynamics of the Dominican food and agricultural market.  The 2020 Exporter Guide Report is available here.

Wheat

Wheat is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Following is a market overview and trade data:

Overview

Wheat*

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total Local Production

0

0

0

0

Total Exports

25

28

61

29

Total Imports

128

126

153

131

Imports from the US

85

70

72

51

Total Market Size

103

98

92

102

Exchange Rates

RD$58.32 = US$1

 

 

 

Unit: Millions of U.S. dollars

Sources: Unofficial estimate by FAS based on industry and U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Indicators Division; DR Customs; Trade Data Monitor.

Wheat consumption in the Dominican Republic (DR) during Marketing Year (MY) 2021/2022 (July 2021/ June 2022) is forecast at 455,000 metric tons (MT), with imports at 590,000 MT.  The increased forecast is due to an expected recovery of Dominican exports of flour and baked goods, as well as an expected recovery in the number of tourists visiting the country after the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) sector. 

Exports of wheat flour and products manufactured in the Dominican Republic to Haiti and other Caribbean markets declined during CY 2020 driven by increased local demand of wheat products and slower demand from international markets.  While the U.S. market share is stable, the United States faces increased competition from Canada in the local market.  Historically, Canada has provided wheat to the Dominican market in years of overproduction.  However, during recent marketing years, Canada has been regularly supplying Dominican millers. Under the right price conditions, local millers cite a preference for Canadian wheat due to prices and higher protein content. 

Opportunities

Product quality, geographic proximity, and price, in addition to market support and technical assistance efforts, such as the ones provided by the U.S. Wheat Associates, will assure continued U.S. presence in the Dominican market. As a basic food item utilized for bread and pasta production, wheat is exempted from import taxes.  However, given the increase in international wheat prices and competition from Canada, wheat imports from the United States may continue to decrease slightly in the short term.

Resources

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Santo Domingo agricultural specialist covering the grain sector is Virgilio Mayol, virgilio.mayol@usda.gov.

Soybean Meal

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Following is a market overview and trade data:

Overview

Soybean meal

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total Local Production

0

0

0

0

Total Exports

0

0

0

0

Total Imports

159

181

181

166

Imports from the US

159

175

180

166

Total Market Size

159

181

181

166

Exchange Rates

RD$58.32 = US$1

 

 

 

Unit: Millions of U.S. dollars

Sources: Unofficial estimate by FAS based on industry and U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Indicators Division; Trade Data Monitor.

The United States continues to be the Dominican Republic’s main supplier of soybean meal (SBM). During Calendar Year 2020 (CY 2020), the Dominican Republic imported 456,512 MT of soybean meal.  The United States supplied 100 percent of that total.  SBM is used mainly in feed formulation for poultry and swine.  The market is dependent on the poultry sector, which consumes about 70 percent of all feed ingredient imports. The swine and cattle sector consume 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively.  During CY 2021, SBM imports are expected to increase, due to expected increased domestic production of poultry and pork products as the subsector continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opportunities

Product quality, geographic proximity, and price, in addition to market support and technical assistance from the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), will assure continued presence of U.S. SBM in the Dominican market.  In addition, as a basic feed item for the poultry, swine, and dairy sectors, soybean meal is exempted from import taxes.  As a result of expected increased demand for SBM due to increased livestock production, imports from the United States are expected to increase.

Resources

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Santo Domingo agricultural specialist covering the oilseeds sector is Virgilio Mayol, virgilio.mayol@usda.gov.

Corn

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Following is a market overview and trade data.

Overview

Corn

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total Local Production

15

17

21

18

Total Exports

1

1

1

1

Total Imports

221

249

256

233

Imports from the US

95

160

65

91

Total Market Size

235

265

276

250

Exchange Rates

RD$58.32 = US$1

 

 

 

Unit: Millions of U.S. dollars

Sources: Unofficial estimate by FAS based on industry and U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Indicators Division; DR Customs; Trade Data Monitor.

Historically, the United States has dominated the corn market in the Dominican Republic, enjoying close to 100 percent market share until 2009.  Since that year, persistent complaints concerning dust levels, presence of mycotoxins, grain cracking, availability, shipping challenges, and relatively higher prices have led many importers to source South American supplies, specifically from Brazil and Argentina.  As a result, the United States is now exporting considerably less corn to the DR.  During CY 2020, the Dominican Republic imported a total of 1,384,250 MT of corn.  Brazil supplied 54 percent of that total, followed by the United States with 38 percent. Demand for corn, a prime ingredient for animal feed, declined during 2020 due to adverse effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic over the poultry and pork industries. During 2021, exports are expected to increase significantly.

Opportunities

Product quality, geographic proximity and price, in addition to U.S. industry support and technical assistance will assure U.S. presence in the Dominican market. Coarse grain quality is expected to improve and, as corn is a basic feed item for the poultry, swine, and dairy sectors, it remains exempt from import taxes. 

Resources

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Santo Domingo agricultural specialist covering the grain sector is Virgilio Mayol, virgilio.mayol@usda.gov.

Consumer-Oriented Products Agricultural Products

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Following is a market overview and trade data:

Overview

Consumer-Oriented Products

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total Exports

1,536

1,610

1,670

1,654

Total Imports

1,276

1,424

1,486

1,470

Imports from the US

559

644

698

675

Exchange Rates

RD$58.32 = US$1

 

 

 

Unit: Millions of U.S. dollars - Sources: Trade Data Monitor

Imported consumer-oriented food products, mainly those from the United States, are seen as high-quality products.  The demand for these products is high and the U.S. market share for these items is approximately 46 percent.  Currently, the major competitor in this group of products is the European Union.  The hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) sector continues to grow strongly, increasingly serving Dominicans as well as tourists. Leading U.S. products for distribution in hotels and restaurants include premium red meat cuts, poultry parts, cheeses, wine, frozen potatoes and vegetables, fresh fruit, and seafood.  However, the majority of the all-inclusive resorts are owned by Spanish companies, which leads to heavy sourcing of Spanish and other European food and beverage items.

The Dominican modern retail sector offers a wide variety of U.S. products, is dominated by locally owned companies, and is growing rapidly.  However, despite the prominence and growth of local supermarket chains, they only account for 20-25 percent of retail sales.  The majority of sales are still in the traditional channel, which includes neighborhood stores (colmados) and warehouses, which offers largely local products. Also, the rapid increase of new and modern gas stations is important, since many food shops are becoming a place for purchasing various U.S. imported snacks, beverages and fast food throughout the country. This is especially true in the East, where tourism levels have reached record levels.

During 2020, demand for consumer-oriented products declined slightly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the hotel and restaurant sectors in the Dominican Republic.

Opportunities

The Dominican Republic is reportedly the fastest-growing economy in Latin America.  Demand for consumer-oriented products is expected to increase in the medium-term due to the continued liberalization of the Dominican market under CAFTA-DR; growth in the tourism, hotel, and restaurant institutional (HRI) sectors; and economic growth.

Resources

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Santo Domingo specialist covering the consumer-oriented products sector is Virgilio Mayol, virgilio.mayol@usda.gov.

Dairy Products

Overview

Dairy products

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total Local Production

269

288

298

277

Total Exports

1

1

1

1

Total Imports

271

326

335

383

Imports from the US

73

80

89

93

Total Market Size

539

604

619

659

Exchange Rates

RD$58.32 = US$1

 

 

 

Unit: Millions of U.S. dollars

Sources: Unofficial estimate by FAS based on industry and U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Indicators Division; DR Customs; Trade Data Monitor.

While the DR’s dairy sector is an important source of local employment, it is not able to supply the full range of dairy products consumed domestically, especially in the growing hotel, restaurant, and institutional (HRI) sector.  From 2017 to 2020, the DR’s overall imports of dairy products increased approximately 41 percent to $383 million. During this period, the United States had an average market share of 30 percent, while the EU has dominated the market.  However, CAFTA-DR has opened up opportunities for U.S. exports of dairy products to the DR market.

The DR’s large and growing tourism industry demands high value food products, including cheese. In addition, there is a growing number of consumers demanding higher quality and healthier products, and they generally perceive that U.S. products meet these requirements.

During 2020, local production of dairy products (mainly cheese) was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, hence increasing U.S. and EU exports to the market.

Opportunities

The duties on U.S. dairy products exported to the Dominican Republic are being phased out under the CAFTA-DR agreement. Tariffs and quotas for fluid milk, butter, fresh cheese, cottage cheese, curd and soft cheese were eliminated beginning in 2015 and for ice cream in 2016.  Tariffs and quotas for cheddar cheese were eliminated in 2020, and both tariffs and quotas for mozzarella cheese, powdered milk, and yogurt will be eliminated in 2025.

Resources

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Santo Domingo specialist covering the dairy sector is Virgilio Mayol, virgilio.mayol@usda.gov.

Rice

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Following is a market overview and trade data:

Overview

Rice

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total Local Production

333

353

356

328

Total Exports

5

6

5

5

Total Imports

20

11

14

23

Imports from the US

20

11

13

23

Total Market Size

348

358

365

346

Exchange Rates

RD$58.32 = US$1

 

 

 

Unit: Millions of U.S. dollars

Sources: Central Bank; ONE Export Database; Unofficial estimate by FAS on industry; U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Indicators Division; Trade Data Monitor.

Rice is one of the most important agricultural products in the country due to its political, economic and social impact on Dominican society.  The country is self-sufficient in rice production, although this self-sufficiency is based on governmental support through: 1) programs such as the Pledge Program (Programa de Pignoración); and 2) measures that limit rice imports such as the discretionary management of import permits.

These measures continue to limit the volume of U.S. rice that could potentially compete in the local market. Under the CAFTA-DR, tariff rates for rice started to decrease during 2016 and will be phased out by 2025. The current import tariff rate for U.S. rice is 47.5 percent.

Opportunities

Rice is a basic food item in the Dominican diet.  As CAFTA-DR is in full effect, the tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for rice will assure a small U.S. presence in the Dominican market with an increasing amount every year until the phase out period ends in 2025.

Resources

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Santo Domingo agricultural specialist covering the grains sector is Virgilio Mayol, virgilio.mayol@usda.gov.

Pulses and Dried Beans

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Following is a market overview and trade data:

Overview

Pulses and Dried Beans

2017

2018

2019

2020

Total Local Production

57

59

68

53

Total Exports

0

0

0

0

Total Imports

31

32

34

58

Imports from the US

28

27

30

53

Total Market Size

88

91

102

111

Exchange Rates

RD$58.32= US$1

 

 

 

Unit: Millions of U.S. dollars

Sources: Central Bank; ONE Export Database; Unofficial estimate by FAS on industry; U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Indicators Division; Trade Data Monitor.

Pinto beans are a basic staple in the Dominican diet and the Dominican Republic was self-sufficient in red pinto bean production for many years.  Nonetheless, production can no longer meet domestic demand.  In recent years, worldwide dried bean imports to the DR have averaged more than 37,000 metric tons per year, reaching an estimated value of $58 million in 2020, due to production shortfalls.  Most dried bean imports into the DR come from U.S. ports located in the Gulf of Mexico, and some are transshipped from the Midwest United States through Canada. 

The Dominican market prefers North American pinto beans to the South American variety due to quality, phytosanitary standards, geographic proximity, and price.  Continued U.S. presence in this market is assured with CAFTA-DR providing a free trade market, and the current domestic production shortfall.

Resources

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Santo Domingo agricultural specialist covering the dry beans sector is Virgilio Mayol, virgilio.mayol@usda.gov.