Country Profile

Macau Country Profile

Discover more about the Macau market including overviews about the retail, food service, and food processing sectors. Events, resources, and more are linked throughout the profile.

Jump to Section

Market Overview

Over 20% Increase in Sales

of agricultural imports from the U.S. in 2021 were processed food variety

Over $100k in New Export Sales

$3.4 Million
of agricultural imports from the U.S. in 2021 were consumer-oriented
USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Hong Kong reports  that Macau is located at the entrance of the Pearl River Delta, about 90 miles southeast of Guangzhou, China and 37 miles southwest of Hong Kong. It covers an area of 12.7 square miles, around one-sixth the size of Washington, D.C. and has a population of 683,102.  Formerly a Chinese territory under Portuguese administration, Macau became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China on December 20, 1999.  Pursuant to a 50-year transition period, the Macau SAR (MSAR) maintains a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign, defense, and security affairs.

Euromonitor reports that Macau benefits from political stability, but its ageing population could make increasing demands on government finances in the future.  As the world’s largest gambling center, Macau’s economy is heavily dependent on revenues from casinos, making its economic base narrow and prone to shocks.  A wealthy and growing population is expected to support discretionary spending.

The Macau government plans to expand Macau’s attraction as a tourist and leisure hub including the growth of hotels, family-friendly mega resorts, and accompanying hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) outlets.  Macau also looks to diversify into a multi-platform entertainment destination.  Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) is another area that the Macau government is targeting for long-term development.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) a major economic driver: With FDI inflows equating to 14.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020, Macau is highly dependent on FDI for the development of its economy.  Macau’s revenues from gambling are three times higher than those witnessed by Las Vegas and the relaxation of rules for Chinese visitors has resulted in a booming tourism sector.  Macau is now the largest gambling center globally. These are attributes that have been appealing to foreign investors eager to participate in developing Macau’s gambling credentials and tourism potential.  Further economic diversification planned by the government into sectors such as financial services and communications is also expected to attract foreign investment.

Due to production limitations, virtually all of Macau’s food requirements are imported.  In 2020, Macau’s total global imports of agricultural, food, and fisheries reached US$1.6 billion. Among them, US$1.38 billion, or 87%, were consumer-oriented agricultural products.  The vast majority of Macau’s imports were transshipped via Hong Kong as Macau lacks a deep-water port.

Advantages and Challenges for U.S. Food Exporters in Macau

Post adds that like all vital U.S. agricultural export markets, Macau comes with its own unique opportunities and challenges.


  • Macau’s economy is set to rebound quickly as global pandemic situation improves
  • U.S. food products enjoy an excellent reputation among Macau consumers and visitors, as they are renowned for highquality and food safety standard
  • Macau is a quality and trend-driven market, so price is not always the most important factor for food and beverage purchases


  • Order size of importers is small and most shipments are consolidated
  • Transportation time, costs, and product seasonality for U.S. food and beverage products to Macau can make them less competitive than products available from regional suppliers such as China, Australia, and New Zealand
  • The importance of Hong Kong as a transshipment point and buying center for Macau is not widely known to U.S. exporters

US$3.4 million or 64% of the agricultural total exported from the U.S. in 2021 were of the consumer oriented variety.  That represented a 1% increase over 2020. US$2.9 million or 55% of the agricultural totals were exports of processed food variety, with growth of 78%. 

Top U.S. processed food exports shipped directly to Macau in 2021 included:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Prepared/Preserved Seafood
  • Food Preparations & Ingredients
  • Condiments, Sauces Jams & Jellies
  • Processed Egg Products
  • Soups
  • Chocolate & Confectionery    

“All of Food Export’s programs were a tremendous help getting us export ready, understanding the challenges that come with international business, and learning how to navigate them.”

Katz Gluten Free

Food Export-Northeast Participant since 2018        

Interested in importing from U.S. suppliers?
Contact us to learn more.

Retail Sector

Over $100k in New Export Sales

$590.9 Million
projected retail sales in packaged food market to Macau by 2026

New Distributorships Established

increase in retail sales since 2018
Over 20% Increase in Sales

$464.8 Million
estimated retail sales in the packaged food market in Macau for 2022

According to Euromonitor, retail sales in the packaged food market in Macau should reach US$464.8 million in 2022.  That represents a growth rate of 46% or US$146.4 million since 2018.  By the year 2026, the retail sales in the packaged food market in Macau is expected to reach US$590.9 million, a growth rate of 27.1% and US$126.1 million fom 2022.  

High growth products in the forecast include:

  • Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts
  • Baked Goods
  • Confectionery
  • Cheese
  • Ready Meals  
  • Savory Snacks
  • Soup
  • Processed Meat, Seafood & Alternatives to Meat

Post reports that in 2020, retail sales in Macau reached US$5.6 billion, among them US$644 million, or 11%, were goods in supermarkets.  That represented a 4.1% growth compared with 2019.  “Supermarket/Department Stores” includes sales of supermarkets, convenience stores, and food and beverage sections at department stores.  They are the modern grocery outlets that provide consumers with convenient and high-quality options.

In addition to groceries, these stores are offering a more comprehensive shopping experience with increased items of fresh food, bread and pastry, organic options, and hot takeout meals.  Royal, San Miu and ParknShop are the three largest supermarket chains in Macau.  The largest convenience store chains are 7-Eleven and Circle K.  Traditional markets include wet markets and mom-and-pop shops.  They are widespread throughout Macau.  They are favored for daily, neighborhood shopping primarily especially amongst an older consumer base.  Due to size restrictions, many of these stores work with importers to buy smaller batches.

Best Product Prospects:

Post reports that high value U.S. exports that have potential in the Macau market include dairy, distilled spirits, seafood, bakery, wine, poultry meat, non-alcoholic beverages, soup and other food preparations, pork and products and fresh fruit.  

Food Service Sector

Over $100k in New Export Sales

restaurants in Macau as of 2019
First-Time Sale to a Market

casinos in Macau
Market Builder Program Success

hotels in Macau
Post reports that according to the latest statistics, a total of 2,419 restaurant and foodservice facilities were in operation in 2019, an increase of 76 facilities over 2018. The presence of 18 Michelin starred restaurants in Macau bodes well for the hotel, restaurant, and institutional (HRI) sector.  Macanese food, which is a fusion of Portuguese, African, Southeast Asian, and Chinese cooking, is gaining international recognition, as is Macau as a culinary destination following an influx of internationally renowned restaurant brands and celebrity chefs.

The Macau food service sector is made up of Chinese restaurants, local-style cafes, western restaurants, Japanese and Korean restaurants, other Asian restaurants, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, bars and lounges, and cooked food stalls.  Many of these food service outlets are located in hotels and casinos.  Macau has over 120 hotels and guesthouses, and 39 casinos as well as major Five Star hotels including Altira, Four Seasons Hotel, Sands, Grande Lisboa, the Venetian Macau, Legend Palace, Wynn, Lisboa, Wynn Palace, MGM Macau, MGM Cotai, and the Hotel Okura Macau.

Restaurant receipts amounted to US$1.5 billion in 2019, up by 4.1% year-onyear, attributable to an increase in the number of food service outlets and steadily growing economy.  Restaurant expenditures totaled US$1.5 billion and US$533 million of which, or 36%, was spent on purchases of goods.

Macau’s economy is highly dependent on tourism and gaming industries.  World-wide travel restrictions due to COVID-19 outbreak have slowed down Macau’s economic growth and food demand.  The gaming industry’s gross revenue dropped from US$36.6 billion in 2019 to US$7.56 billion in 2020, whereas Macau per capita GDP dropped from US$81,893 in 2019 to US$35,714 in 2020, a decrease of 79% and 56%, respectively. Macau’s imports of consumer-oriented agricultural products were less seriously affected and reached US$1.4 billion in 2020, a decrease of 12% over 2019.

For the first three months of 2021, Macau’s import of consumer-oriented agricultural products reached US$362 million, an increase of 7.8% over the same period in 2020.  The number of visitors has also resumed growth.  For the months of February and March 2021, the number of visitors reached over 427,000 and 754,000, an increase of 173% and 255% over 2020.  It was expected that Macau’s economy will grow more quickly in the latter half of 2021 when the coronavirus situation further improves.  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped 56.3% in 2020 and recovered to growth of 20.4% in 2021. GDP forecast for 2022 is for more growth at 37.6%.

Best Prospects:

Post reports that the best product prospects in the Macau HRI sector include distilled spirits, spice, coffee, tea, dairy products, fresh fruit, poultry, food preparations, condiment and sauces, beef, fish, chocolate, tree nuts, processed fruit, and snack foods.