The exodus of Haiti’s rural population to cities, coupled with a lack of agricultural capitalization, has reduced food crops. In light of this, there is a strong demand for U.S. agribusiness firms to invest and help boost domestic food production. Haiti does not produce enough food to meet domestic demand and must import a significant portion of the agricultural products it consumes. Another constraint to food availability is poor internal infrastructure which is required to transport food and insecurity. The free movement of goods, especially agricultural products has become difficult which discourages agricultural producers, and further accelerates inflation.
Major food imports include rice, poultry, meat, and edible meat offal, and wheat. U.S. exports of rice, processed food, wheat, and poultry are good market prospects. Haiti’s food imports were valued at $1.2 billion in calendar year (CY) 2021, increasing 14.3 percent from CY2020 (Source: Trade Data Monitor (TDM) and other sources).
Major imported agricultural products
- Poultry, meat and edible meat offal
Rice is a staple food for a majority of Haitians. When per capita consumption of rice was lower, Haiti was a self-sufficient producer of rice; however, as consumption has increased, 80 percent of rice now consumed in Haiti is imported. The United States is especially competitive in long grain milled rice (less than 10 percent broken kernels). The total amount of rice imported was valued at $246.2 million in CY2021, which represented a 11.6. percent decrease from 2020. Of total rice imports, $224 million came from the United States. U.S. exports of milled rice are typically 4 percent broken and packaged in 50 kg and 25 kg bags.
Other Cereal Products – Malt, Flour, Starch, and Wheat Gluten
Cereal products, especially wheat and flour, are major components of the Haitian diet. Haiti, however, does not produce sufficient grains to satisfy domestic demand. The United States remains Haiti’s largest supplier of wheat, corn, sorghum, and millet, as well as rice.
Poultry, Meat and Edible Meat Offal
The United States is Haiti’s leading supplier of poultry. Over the past several years, decreases in the availability of local livestock and increasing feed prices that forced Haitian farms out of business have also factored into the rising demand for poultry imports.
Following the detection of the H5N2 avian flu virus in the Dominican Republic, on January 7, 2008, the government of Haiti instituted a ban on Dominican poultry and egg products. In June 2013, the Minister of Commerce and Industry declared that the government of Haiti had lifted the ban on Dominican poultry meats, but Dominican poultry exporters must fulfill the requirements of the Haitian government before exporting to Haiti and must obtain an import permit.