With agricultural production in decline, food imports have become critical. State‐owned companies channeling imported foodstuffs to consumers have in the process become the major operators in the Iraqi food retail sector.

With the standard of living increasing thanks to the relative stability and prosperity, the Iraqi Kurdish middle class is increasingly demanding affordable, but better quality imported foods. Also returning Iraqi expats are looking for the experiences and comforts they became familiar with while living overseas.

Retail food imports enter Iraq by sea, air, and overland routes. There are 28 ports‐of‐entry: 7 airports; 2 seaports; and, 17 land border crossings. The Kurdistan Regional Government maintains its own food safety system and monitors imports from neighboring provinces.

To get the opportunities in the Iraqi food market, the following key considerations need to be taken into attention when formulating a new‐to‐market entry strategy:
• Finding and working with an Iraqi partner (i.e., a buyer, an agent, a distributor, or a representative) is a key consideration.
• Account for cultural and religious factors such as halal slaughter requirements and limita􀀕ons on the distribution
• Customer preferences in terms of packaging size and labeling requirements.• Food standards and import regulations

The Most Profitable Market: Iraq

• The population is 34,4 million people
• Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector. Iraq ranks second in the world behind Saudi Arabia in the amount of oil reserves.
• Iraq's import is $ 77,2 billion.
• The Kurdistan region drives growth in Iraq's construction, food and landscaping and infrastructure sector.
• Iraq relies on imported food and agricultural products for about 80 percent of its food needs.
• Iraq now relies heavily on food and agricultural product imports for its food requirements. Although the Iraqi government launched a national initiative to achieve   selfsufficiency in crop production within a decade, success remains elusive.
• Iraq's food self‐sufficiency rate will continue to decrease in tandem with its population growing at an estimated rate of 2.3 percent per annum; Iraq's population is   expected to surpass 40 million within a decade.