Past, Present and Future Report

May 2011

The Government of Canada has prepared this report based on primary and secondary sources of information. Readers should take note that the Government of Canada does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the information contained in this report, nor does it necessarily endorse the organizations listed herein. Readers should independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the information. This report is intended as a concise overview of the market for those interested in its potential and is not intended to provide in-depth analysis which may be required by the individual exporter. Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information is correct, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada assumes no responsibility for its accuracy, reliability, or for any decisions arising from the information contained herein.

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Algeria is Canada's number one trade partner in Africa, and is the largest importer of agricultural goods in Africa, making it an attractive market, offering ample opportunities for Canadian exporters.
  • Total bilateral trade between Canada and Algeria totalled $3.8 billion in 2010, while Canada's agricultural exports to Algeria were $202.8 million.
  • Algeria does not produce any permanent crops and agriculture accounts for only 8% of the country's GDP.
  • Algeria's economy is fairly reliant on its natural gas and hydrocarbon industry which accounts for approximately 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP and over 97% of export earnings.
  • Algeria weathered the global recession well, sustaining a positive growth rate of 2.4% in 2009, and increasing growth to 3.8% in 2010.
  • Algerian consumers traditionally consumed unpackaged food, yet busier lifestyles and rising incomes have increased demand for packaged food, fuelling growth in this industry.
  • The growing tourist industry has fuelled hotel growth, which will likely increase demand for foreign and imported luxury food products.
  • There has been growing interest in health and slimming products in Algeria, with growth reaching 8% in 2009.
  • Despite the increasing popularity of grocery retailers, the informal market still accounts for 40% of retail in Algeria.


Algeria is the second largest country in Africa in terms of area. It also ranks as the 11th largest country in the world, and possesses the largest population of all Maghreb states. Algeria is located in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean along with its neighbours Morocco and Tunisia. Close to 80% of the country's land mass is desert, steppes, wasteland and mountains. As such, the population is concentrated in cultivated areas, such as the northern Tell regions, while the plateau and desert regions are sparsely populated.

Algeria's predominantly Muslim population makes it one of the largest Arabic speaking countries in the world. While Arabic is the official language in the country, French is also widely spoken. Relative to its African counterparts, Algeria has proved to be an accomplished global competitor and a regional leader.

Increasing per capita incomes and busier lifestyles has led to the popularity of Western food products in Algeria. Processed and packaged foods are becoming increasingly popular, while the retail sector and health and wellness products have experienced growth.

Canada – Algeria Relations

Canada and Algeria share a healthy and well developed trade relationship. Canadian interests in Algeria are represented by the Embassy of Canada in Algiers. Algeria has an Embassy in Ottawa and a consulate in Montreal. Canadian presence and activities in the Algerian market are strong.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has a bilateral program in Algeria that focuses on two key sectors: the private sector and civil society. Through this program, CIDA provides vocational training and directly targets the development of local capacity.

Two-way trade between Canada and Algeria was on the rise until the global financial crisis. Trade increased by 139% from 2004 to 2008, but total trade decreased by close to 50% in 2009. Algeria is Canada's top export market in Africa, followed by Egypt and South Africa. Canada is Algeria's fifth largest trading partner, accounting for 3.3% of Algeria's total trade.

Canada-Algeria Bilateral Trade (2010)
Algeria Total Trade (2009) $96.1 billion
Exports $51.1 billion
Imports $45.0 billion
Trade balance ($6.1 billion)
Canada- Algeria Trade $3.8 billion
Exports $0.3 billion
Imports $3.5 billion
Trade balance ($3.2 billion)
Canada- Algeria Ag Trade $203.6 million
Exports $202.8 million
Imports $0.8 million
Trade balance $201.9 million
  • Total bilateral trade between Canada and Algeria totalled $3.8 billion in 2010.
  • Major Canadian exports to Algeria in 2010 included durum wheat ($73.8 million), lentils ($72.1 million), meslin and wheat ($41.1 million) and vaccines ($20.7 million).
  • Principal imports from Algeria in 2010 were crude petroleum oils ($3.5 billion), dates ($310,792), waters ($160,374) and grape wines ($120,623).
  • Agricultural trade between the two countries represents 5.3% of total trade.

Agricultural Trade

As its climate is not favourable to production and harvests, Algeria presents a large demand for imported food stuffs. Algeria relies heavily on imports to meet most of its agricultural product needs. This makes Algeria a particularly lucrative market, as Canada has the advantage of a climate that is conducive to foster crop production.

Algeria is the largest importer of agricultural goods in Africa, making it an attractive market, holding immense potential. Agricultural imports provide for most of the consumption needs due to unfavourable harvest conditions often resulting from drought. As a result, imports of wheat and other agricultural goods are necessary. Canada's top three exports to Algeria fit into this category. Canada's wheat exports to Algeria increased 225% from 2007 to 2008, but were curbed by the global financial crisis, decreasing 87% from 2008 to 2010.

Recently Algeria has experienced a steady increase in agricultural trade and investment due to gradual privatization efforts in its agri-business sector. Presently most of the agricultural goods are received by private businesses such as supermarkets, restaurants and hotels.

There is growing potential for export profits, as general distributors, such as hotels, restaurants and supermarkets are increasing in number. The supply from these private distributors will likely be met by a demand from the growing tourist industry and an increased standard of living among local consumers. Private business is increasingly importing for the local processing industry with a focus on dairy, bakery, soybean products, snacks and beverages. Local businesses are looking to integrate snacks and semi-processed foods along with other products. Algerian entrepreneurs are also looking to expand the seafood market and are seeking collaboration to improve the seafood sector; opportunities exist in imports of canned fish sold in private supermarkets.

Canada's Top 5 Agricultural Exports to Algeria (2010)
Durum wheat $73.7 million
Lentils dried, shelled $72.1 million
Wheat and meslin $41.1 million
Maize (corn) nes $6.0 million
Peas dried, shelled $2.8 million
  • Agricultural exports from Canada to Algeria decreased slightly in 2010, following a 62% decrease between 2008 and 2009.
  • Canada's top three exports to Algeria in 2010 were agricultural.
  • Canada's top export to Algeria in 2010 was durum wheat, which accounted for 36.4% of total agricultural exports, down from 68.8% of exports from 2009.
  • Other major exports included lentils (35.6%), wheat and meslin (20.3%), maize (2.9%) and peas (2.3%).
Canada's Top 5 Agricultural Imports from to Algeria (2010)
Dates, fresh or dried $310,792
Waters $160,374
Grape wines $120,623
Non-alcoholic beverages nes $46,919
Olive oil, virgin $44,757
  • In 2010, Canada's largest import from Algeria was dates, making up 37% of total imports.
  • Other principal imports included waters (19.1%), grape wines (14.4%), non-alcoholic beverages (5.6%) and virgin olive oil (5.3%).
  • Imports from Algeria have been on a steady decline since 2007. Between 2007 and 2010, imports decreased 63%.

Canada-Algeria bulk, intermediate and consumer exports:

Bulk exports increased by 236% between 2007 and 2008, then decreased again in 2009, likely as a result of the global recession. Bulk exports continued on a decreasing trend between 2009 and 2010, by 19%. Despite this, they remain Canada's largest export type to Algeria. Major bulk exports to Algeria consisted of durum wheat (60.8%), wheat nes and meslin (33.9%), maize (4.9%) and canary seed (0.4%).

Intermediate exports to Algeria have been inconsistent, with a large jump between 2007 and 2008 of 62%. They decreased in 2009, likely because of the global recession, and then shot back up in 2010. Intermediate exports rose 43% between 2009 and 2010. Main exports were lentils, which accounted for 89.4% of all intermediate exports, peas (5.7%), chickpeas (3.5%), milk powder (1.1%) and live turkey (0.1%).

Consumer exports have traditionally been the smallest type of export from Canada to Algeria. Numbers were low in 2008 and 2009, but jumped back up in 2010 by 81%. Principal consumer exports in 2010 were whey (54.1%), protein concentrates (18.5%), dog or cat food (13.6%), malt extract and food preparations (7.1%) and chocolate (6.1%).

Exports: Description of this image follows.

Canada's Exports of Bulk, Intermediate and Consumer Goods to Algeria (Millions $): Intermediate - 38(2007) 61(2008) 56(2009) 81(2010), Consumer - 2(2007) 0(2008) 0(2009) 1(2010), Bulk - 180(2007) 605(2008) 151(2009) 121(2010)


Algeria has seen several policy changes which have had profound positive effects on the national economy and the growth of local industry. The Algerian government commenced extensive reforms between 1999 and 2005, facilitating foreign investment and allowing foreign oil companies to develop and explore its hydrocarbon industry. Algeria's economy is fairly reliant on its natural gas and hydrocarbon industry, which accounts for approximately 60% of budget revenues, 30% of GDP, and over 97% of export earnings. As a result, the government has attempted to diversify the economy and encourage investment in other sectors.

The Charter on Peace and National Reconciliation amnesty treaty, implemented in 2005, has contributed to some relief from turbulence and violence that had been plaguing the country for years. Modernized policies such as the 2005-2009 Public Investment Program have also diversified the national economy. By means of establishing successful partnerships with national and international organizations, Algeria has gained notable ground with respect to diplomacy, and is a member of NATO, the head of the Arab league and part of the African Union.

A move towards privatization has been initiated to further liberalize the economy. Government investment has been focused on the development of infrastructure by road and irrigation construction projects. Algeria continues to face structural issues and although economic privatization has been slowly underway, the challenge remains in reducing state involvement in the provision of goods and services.

In 2010, the Algerian government commenced a five-year development program, estimated at $286 billion. The program's main goals were to update the country's infrastructure and provide jobs. It is expected to bring about more growth in the economy in the upcoming years.

Gross Domestic Product (2010)
GDP US$159.0 billion
Real GDP growth 3.8%(2010)
GDP/capita US$4,477.80
GDP/capita (PPP) US$7,400.00


  • Algeria weathered the global recession well, sustaining a positive growth rate of 2.4% in 2009, and increasing growth to 3.8% in 2010.
  • Inflation was at 5.5% in 2010, decreasing slightly from 2009 levels.
  • Unemployment has actually decreased despite the global recession, from 11% in 2008 to 10% in 2010. This is largely as a result of government-created jobs in the construction sector.
  • Algeria's main industries are petroleum, natural gas, mining, electrical, petrochemical and food processing.
  • Algeria benefits from a current account surplus, which totalled US$34.5 billion before the global financial crisis. The country managed to sustain a small surplus of US$0.5 billion in 2009, and is well on its way to re-establishing a large surplus.


  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected a stable 4.0% annual growth rate from 2011 to 2015.
  • Inflation is expected to decrease after 2011, to 4.9% in 2012. The IMF has predicted a stable annual inflation rate of 4.4% after 2014.
  • Algeria's unemployment rate is projected to continue on its decreasing path, reaching under 9% by 2014.
  • Algeria's current account balance is expected to remain a surplus, but will not reach pre-recession levels by 2015.
  • GDP per capita in Algeria is expected to continue on an increasing trend until 2015.

Consumer Market

Algeria has been categorized as an upper-middle income country by the World Bank. With 34.9 million consumers, 50% of which live in urban areas, Algeria has seen a changing trend in consumption habits. Formerly, the Algerian economy was tightly regulated with little exposure to Western markets. The scarce availability of imported products made it difficult for local consumers to familiarize themselves with many imported goods. Algeria began liberating its markets in 1996, with the closure of the state owned distribution plant. Increased liberalization and market access directly impacted consumer trends.

There is increased demand for imported grocery and non-grocery products, making Algeria an important potential market in North Africa. Modern supermarkets have already penetrated the capital, Algiers, and other major cities in the country, changing both consumer habits and lifestyles. Where Algerian consumers traditionally consumed unpackaged food, increased demand for packaged food has fuelled growth for this segment.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages continues to be the main category of consumer expenditure. In 2009, this category accounted for 44% of total spending in Algeria. Semi-processed foods and pre-packaged goods are now more readily available in private supermarkets. Changes in the tendencies of younger households are being noticed. While traditional cooking habits are not forgotten, variations in diets and food preparation are slowly being adopted.

Algerians have a diet rich in meat and diary products. Mutton and lamb dominate Algerian consumption, closely followed by beef. Veal, horse and rabbit are also eaten, but in small quantities. Pork is not marketed in Algeria as it is prohibited by Islam, and a large majority of Algeria's population is Muslim. Among the white meats, Algerians generally consume chicken, and to a lesser degree turkey. Grain legumes continue to be a staple of the Algerian diet. The traditional Algerian diet consists of fresh food, such as tomatoes, potatoes and courgettes (zucchini), which are often used in local cuisine. Algerians are also extensive milk consumers. Algeria's national dish is couscous. It is often served with meat, such as lamb, chicken or fish, cooked vegetables, spicy stew and bread. In addition to local consumption, Algeria is expected to attract an increasing number of tourists which will significantly contribute to the demand for value-added food stuffs.


  • Algeria's population is the 35th largest in the world, and is expected to reach 40 million inhabitants by the year 2020.
  • Of Algeria's 35 million people, 91% live along the Mediterranean coast on 12% of the country's total land mass.
  • Close to 45% of Algeria's population live in urban centres. Urbanization has continued, despite government efforts to discourage migration to cities.
  • The capital of Algeria, Algiers, has a population of over two million. Other large cities in Algeria include Oran (852,000 inhabitants), Constantin (637,000), Bone (475,000) and Batna (328,000).
  • Although the land is mostly wasteland, approximately 1.5 million nomads and semi-settled Bedouin live in the Saharan area.
  • The median age of Algeria's population is approximately 26 years of age. This is an increase from 24 years in 2005, likely because of a decline in the population of those aged 0-14 years old.
  • In 2009, less than 5% of Algeria's population was over 64, while almost 30% was under 15. This represents an up and coming consumer market, as youth have grown up eating imported food products.
  • The population aged 65 and over is expected to grow 46% by 2020. This is likely a cause of increased life expectancies and improved health care.
  • Currently, close to 24% of Algeria's population is in the 0-14 years range, 71% are in the 15-64 year age group and 5% are aged 65 years and older.

Retail Food Sector

  • The global financial crisis negatively affected the grocery sector in Algeria, which witnessed a 16% decrease in imports during the first quarter of 2009.
  • The rapid expansion of supermarkets is slowly changing shopping habits in Algeria. Attitudes towards packaged and processed foods are increasingly positive.
  • The launch of two major grocery chains, Ardis and Numidis, is expected to further change the grocery retailing landscape in Algeria. Numidis intends to become the leader in grocery retailing by opening 15 supermarkets and hypermarkets around the country.
  • Hypermarkets are expected to see increased growth, with a CAGR of 48% in terms of outlets.
  • The number of supermarket outlets increased 14% in 2010, giving it the second largest outlet increase among grocery retailers.
  • Supermarkets are the fastest growing retail channel in Algeria, registering a 21% value sales increase in 2010. The channel offers a wider choice of products than independent small grocers.
  • Despite the increasing popularity of grocery retailers, the informal market still accounts for 40% of retail in Algeria. It is difficult for retail channels to compete with the low prices of informal markets.
  • Independent small grocers are the biggest channel in sales terms, accounting for over 70% of the total number of grocery outlets in the country. These grocers are present in both urban and rural areas.

Health and Wellness Products

  • There has been increasing health awareness amongst upper-income consumers, which has boosted growth in consumption of health and wellness products.
  • Despite having only a small base, slimming products achieved current value growth of 8% in 2009.
  • Weight loss supplements drove value growth in the health and wellness category, seeing 10% growth in 2009.
  • Barriers to growth for these products include the limited purchasing power of Algerian consumers and the perception that curvier women are healthier.
  • However, Algeria is expected to soon follow the Western perception that slim is considered beautiful. Upper- and middle-income consumers who wish to lose weight will likely begin to use these products.


Algeria's changing consumer trends and urbanized demographics present several opportunities for Canadian exporters.

  • There is increased opportunity in the food packaging industry as Algerians present more demand for packaged food.
  • The growing tourist industry has fuelled hotel growth, which will likely present demand for foreign and imported luxury food products.
  • There has been growing interest in health and slimming products in Algeria, with growth of slimming products reaching 8% in 2009.
  • Algeria does not produce any permanent crops, presenting an opportunity for Canadian agri-food exporters to fill this gap.
  • A recent preference for Canadian and European wheat in lieu of American wheat presents ample opportunity for Canadian wheat exporters.


Algeria has established several longstanding trade relations with key markets. The European Union (EU) is Canada's major competition in the Algerian market. The EU has gained from low freight costs due to its geographical advantage. Of all Algeria's agricultural and food imports, 44% originate in European countries. France in particular has maintained lasting ties with Algeria, built on shared historical and cultural experiences. A large number of North Africans live in France, and French is the primary language in Algeria. France is Algeria's largest import market, and one of its largest suppliers with an 84% share of Algeria's agricultural import market. Germany, the United Kingdom and the Ukraine are also major suppliers, with 5.6%, 2% and 2% shares respectively.

Although the United States (U.S) maintains a lucrative trade relationship with Algeria; market shares have been declining over the past years due to preference for Canadian and European wheat. The U.S. import of corn is favoured most in Algeria and is in continuous demand for local animal feed. Despite Canada's success, France remains the largest wheat supplier. Eastern Europe supplies Algeria with most of its barley imports, again with the advantage of low freight costs. Algeria maintains a steady demand for both fresh and dry milk imports. The top competitors for fresh milk imports are France and Argentina, with the U.S. and Belgium leading in dry milk.

In terms of total trade, the EU is Algeria's largest trading partner, representing 51.2% of total trade. The U.S. is the second largest, with a 14.3% share in total trade, followed by China (6.5%), Turkey (4.4%) and Canada (3.3%).

Access Issues

Foreign trade policy has undergone many changes that have opened the Algerian economy, fostered the growth of import and export activity, and diversified import sources. A notable improvement was initiated in 2006 with the removal of the product specific tax which was formerly applied to some 500 products. Despite this improvement, the government announced several economic policies in 2008 and 2009 that served to strengthen the government's control over foreign investment projects. The "complementary finance law", adopted in July 2009, imposed new restrictions on foreign investment, and requires a 51% Algerian partnership in new foreign investments and a 30% Algerian partnership in all foreign import companies.

Algeria has been ranked 136 out of 183 countries in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business 2011 index. It ranks as the 4th lowest in Middle East and North Africa, ahead of Iraq, Djibouti and Syria. Algeria has poor results on all indicators, all of which worsened since 2010. Despite these setbacks, Algeria continues to take steps toward total market liberalization, which will hopefully allow for increased investment and business opportunity.

Some prohibited imports to Algeria include:

  • Genetically modified plants and food
  • Wine
  • Manufactured tobacco (with the exception of licensed corporations)
  • Pork

For more information on trade regulations and standards in Algeria, please see the following document:

Business Travel Tips

  • Despite Arabic being the official language in Algeria, French is most commonly used in the workplace.
  • Formal attire is recommended for work environments such as jackets and slacks for men. Women should dress conservatively.
  • It is considered impolite not to make eye contact with a business associate.
  • Algerian organizations tend to deal only with foreign partners who have managed to gain their confidence through personal visits, careful follow up, and the ability to honour commitments.

For information regarding safety and security in Algeria, please see the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada's Travel Advisory Note:

Agricultural Sector and Policies

Algeria's terrain and arid to semiarid climate is not conducive to agriculture. As a result, Algeria does not produce any permanent crops and agriculture accounts for only 8% of the country's GDP compared to services and industry which comprise 30% and 63% respectively.

Algeria has a competitive food processing industry that offers affordable prices to Algerian consumers and supplies the local market with products that meet global health and food standards.

Although the agricultural sector faces several challenges, including soil erosion, increased salinity, insufficient irrigation and drainage networks, persistent droughts and inadequate production technologies, there have been government efforts to develop infrastructure and stimulate various sectors of the economy outside of energy.

Contact Information

The Canadian Embassy in Algeria
Street Address:
The Canadian Embassy
18, Mustapha Khalef Street
Ben Aknoun, Algiers
16035, Algeria
Mailing Address:
The Canadian Embassy
P.O. Box 48, Algiers Station
16 000, Algiers
Tel: (011 213 770) 08 30 31
Fax: (011 213 770) 08 30 40
Other URL:

Mrs. Saïda Bouabcha
Trade Commissioner
Agricultural Technology and Equipment, Agriculture, Food and Beverages, Bio-Industries, Fish and Seafood Products, Forest Industries, Health Industries, Information and Communications Technologies

Key Resources

  • Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. "Canadian Agri-Food Trade System". Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. 16 Feb, 2011.
  • Central Intelligence Agency. "Algeria." The World Factbook. 20 Jan. 2011.
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "Cultural Information-Algeria." Cantre for Intercultural Learning. 15 Oct. 2009.
  • Euromonitor International. "Consumer Health-Algeria." Euromonitor International. 8 Mar. 2010.
  • - - -. "Consumer Lifestyles in Algeria." Euromonitor International. 7 June 2010.
  • - - -. "Grocery Retailers-Algeria." Euromonitor International. 21 Jan. 2010.
  • Global Trade Atlas. "Algeria". Global Trade Atlas. 2009.
  • Industry Canada. "Trade Data Online." Industry Canada. 2010.
  • U.S. Commercial Service. "Doing Business in Algeria: A Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies." Market Research Library. 15 Mar. 2010.
  • U.S. Department of State. "Background Note: Algeria." U.S. Department of State. 2 Aug. 2010.