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Analyzing Montenegro’s food import patterns: Insights and opportunities

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Recent data from Monstat’s Statistical Office reveals Montenegro’s extensive food import patterns, shedding light on the country’s dependency on imported goods.

In 2023, Montenegro imported a variety of food items, including potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and more, from numerous countries. The total food import bill for the year amounted to 744 million EUR, marking a significant increase of 17% compared to the previous year.

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One noteworthy observation is that the daily expenditure on imported food reached two million euros, averaging 3.2 euros per capita per day. This increase can be attributed to both rising food prices, which surged by 10.7% compared to the previous year, and heightened consumption, possibly influenced by an influx of tourists and temporary residents.

What’s striking is that the total value of food imports surpassed Montenegro’s entire export earnings for the same period, indicating a substantial reliance on imported food items.

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An analysis of food imports by product category reveals that a significant portion of imports could potentially be produced domestically or sourced from neighboring countries. For instance, fresh vegetables worth 6.5 million EUR were imported from Albania alone.

While Montenegro faces limitations in producing certain commodities like cereals, which justify imports worth 104 million EUR, there are opportunities to reduce imports of items such as milk and dairy products (85 million EUR), meat and meat products (172 million EUR), fruits and vegetables (113 million EUR), and live animals (48 million EUR).

Some specific import figures highlight interesting trends, such as the significant import of regular and sour milk, various types of cheese, eggs, honey, live cattle, sheep, and pigs. Imports of fresh and frozen meat also accounted for a substantial portion of the overall import bill.

Despite having over half a million olive trees, Montenegro’s import of olive oil increased from 1 million EUR in 2019 to 1.74 million EUR in 2023. Most of the olive oil imports came from Italy, Greece, Albania, and Croatia.

Overall, while Montenegro enjoys a diverse array of imported food products from various countries, there is potential for enhancing domestic production and reducing dependency on imports, especially for items that can be cultivated locally or sourced regionally.

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