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Challenges to Lebanese food industry: High production cost, foreign competition and absence of government support

25-4-2014

As Safir newspaper published a review report on the Lebanese food industry and its role in the national economy notably in terms of its share of export and the employment opportunities it creates.  The report analysed the various challenges that this sector faces, similarly to the overall industrial sector, namely strong foreign competition in local and external markets, a galloping production cost and the absence of government support.
The report noted that Lebanon exports products worth USD 3.7 billion annually including all kind of manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries.  Of total volume of exports, 40% consists of food products which represent 11.38% of the total export value in USD.  The director of the Syndicate of Lebanese Food Industries, Samir al Mir, noted that despite the fact that these exports witnessed a significant growth since 2011; the sector is still struggling especially given the neglect of all consecutive governments.  To be noted that the sector employs some 30670 workers or 23.3% of the total workforce employed in the industrial sector.  It includes 4456 factories of which 180 are establishments that are registered with the syndicate.  Al Mir praised the decision to decrease export tax by 50% noting that industrialists do not want direct support from the state but are looking for smart protection mechanisms which would drastically reduce their production costs, facilitate the penetration of Lebanese products into the international market and increase its competitiveness, while pointing out to the project to set up the national food council which is still awaiting approval since the idea was conceived.  He also referred to the failed plans to create industrial cities wondering why successive governments have failed to give due consideration to this important matter that will greatly strengthen and develop the industry in all parts of Lebanon.

The president of the Syndicate of Lebanese Food Industries, Georges Nasraoui, detailed the demands which are likely to boost the sector qualitatively and quantitatively namely decreasing production cost and improving infrastructure.  He also highlighted the importance of this sector in terms of its contribution to creating jobs and to fostering innovations in addition to developing agriculture as well as attracting local, regional and international investments.  
Source: Al-Safir 23 April 2014

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