Trade can supply food to a country in cases where it is not available in large enough quantities at home, or where the food is better priced on the world market. Efficient trade is a cornerstone of food security. A country exports goods in order to pay for the goods it imports. The map with the Food Import Bill data shows the value of all food and agricultural imports as a percentage of the value of all exported goods. The ratio of food imports over total exports is an indicator of the economic burden of buying food–and is a better indicator of potential economic difficulties in procuring goods than simply looking at the net trade position of a country. For instance, there are food exporters that have relatively large ratios of food imports compared to total exports, while net food importers that are large exporters of oil or of manufactured goods, may have small ratios.

Using the IFPRI database on nutritional contents of product categories, the average distance travelled by an imported calorie can be calculated for each country.

The chart below shows the value of imports of food and agricultural products by product category (HS2), in US dollars.