Best Prospect sector includes market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 10/17/2019
The agriculture sector is large, diversified, and heavily integrated with the United States, making it a best prospect industry sector for U.S. companies in Mexico.

Overview

Mexico became the United States’ second-largest agricultural partner in 2018. U.S. agricultural and related product exports to Mexico totaled USD 19 billion with overall bilateral agricultural trade of USD 45 billion. The United States remains Mexico’s principal agricultural trading partner, receiving almost USD 26 billion of Mexico’s total agricultural exports. Overall U.S. market share in Mexico has remained high, as geographic advantages continue to make the United States the best supplier for most major agricultural goods.

However, Mexico actively looks for alternate sources of supply given bilateral trade uncertainties. In recent years, competition emerged from the European Union, South America, and Asia. Additionally, with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador taking office in December 2018, Mexico shifted its focus domestically, promoting programs and incentives to enhance both local small-scale production and consumption with a goal of becoming self-sufficient in core agricultural products.

Leading Sub-Sectors

The United States enjoys a commanding market share for several sub-sectors. Mexico is the top destination for U.S. agricultural exports of corn, dairy products, poultry meat and eggs, sugar and sweeteners, distillers dried grains, and rice. It is the second or third-largest market for another 25 key product groups such as soybeans, beef, pork, wheat, horticulture, and many processed foods or beverages. Below are short summaries of a few of these selected sub-sectors of the agricultural market in Mexico. Additional information on each of these topics (as well as other agricultural sectors) is available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) at https://gain.fas.usda.gov/.

Major Agricultural Exports from the United States to Mexico
(Figures in USD millions)

 
 Calendar Years (January-December)January-April Comparison
Product2014201520162017201820182019% Chg
Bulk total6,002.05,375.85,710.46,197.36,479.31,778.72,133.419.9
Wheat857650.9611.5854.7668.6223.0252.613.3
Corn2,255.02,3022,549.82,651.73070.2*755.0918.021.6
Coarse Grains (ex. corn)3678.3132.378.739.23.119.1524.8
Rice325283.6266.5291.7262.379.280.41.4
Soybeans1,817.01,432.21,462.21,568.21,722.7470.1643.837.0
Oilseeds (ex. soybean)6142.760.352.335.26.89.541.1
Cotton411332339.6403.9371.7117.6105.2-10.5
Pulses8173.289.5111.889.633.321.7-35.0
Tobacco4654.169.852.590.749.640.8-17.7
Other Bulk commodities114126.5128.8131.8*127.240.942.12.9
         
Immediate Total4091.03,941.94,065.04,062.33,946.11,376.41,229.4-10.7
Soybean Meal848.0*800.2800.8579.1671.4247.7203.9-17.7
Soybean Oil186.0210.8225.8202.0129.048.838.5-21.2
Vegetable Oils (ex. soybean)207.0223.6196.6210.1183.470.053.8-23.1
Animal Fats303.0242.9240.0213.6232.276.069.2-9.0
Live Animals153.0127.1121.8128.5121.841.534.1-17.8
Hides & Skins137.0130.2153.2140.5135.344.938.4-14.5
Hay0.00.30.30.50.20.00.123.2
Distillers Grains374.0346.3355.8374.4415.4143.2143.20
Feeds % Fodders NESOI162.0146.4153.6158.1184.262.353.9-13.4
Planting Seeds238.0250.7297.7*264.7246.891.878.0-15.0
Sugar, Sweeteners, Bev. Bases630.0632.5620.5664.8648.9217.0184.7-14.9
Other Intermediate Products854.0830.8897.91,125.9*984.0333331.7-0.4
         
Consumer Oriented Total9,271.0*8,377.78,051.58,341.38,593.42,814.52,735.5-2.8
Beef & Beef Products1,166.01092.5977.3979.11,058.4342.4372.48.8
Pork & Pork Products1555.0*1,268.21,359.51,514.11,310.8505.4356.5-29.5
Poultry Meat & Prods. (ex. eggs)1,280.0*1,029.0931.5932.6955.9324.7304.1-6.3
Meat Products NESOI98.0*96.390.983.486.828.727.7-3.5
Eggs & Products192.0186.4181.0169.4166.156.158.03.3
Dairy Products1,644.0*1280.11217.81,312.301,397.60436.9461.45.6
Fresh Fruit583.0560.3501.1570.4618.6168.5149.5-11.3
Processed Fruit122.0119.4112.0120.3125.939.443.710.8
Fresh Vegetables143.0122.6100.8134.1141.434.159.173.6
Tree Nuts222.0269.1253.3256.2370.7124.6111.0-10.9
Chocolate & Cacao Products277.0236.8239.1231.0218.266.271.58.1
Snack Foods NESOI287.0293.2296.1282.9319.3*101.3110.59.1
Breakfast Cereals41.039.750.2*39.141.513.512.5-7.4
Condiments & Sauces186.0218.3220.6*214.0215.170.674.25.1
Prepared Food708.0704.6709.6678.5743.4*225.4270.520.0
Wine & Beer144.0205.2*184.8170.1178.772.833.724.6
Non-Alcoholic Bev. (ex. Juices)157.0137.3116.0139.4123.131.249.057.2
Dog & Cat Food50.067.176.985.189.627.133.724.6
Other Consumer Oriented70.085.880.476.994.925.128.413.3
Agricultural Related Products827.0877.1868.3870.6885.4*283.2299.55.8
Distilled Spirits45.047.238.144.460.916.318.916.2
Ethanol (non-bev.)72.067.258.356.551.214.819.230.0
Biodiesel & Blends > B30*1.018.0*13.711.66.35.10.8-84.1
Forest Products656.0694.6692.4700.8710.6*226.0236.44.6
Fish Products53.050.065.757.356.421.128.413.3
         
Agricultural Products19,364.0*17,695.317,826.918,600.819018.85,969.56,098.42.2
Agricultural & Related Products20,191.0*18,572.418,695.219,471.519904.206,252.76,397.92.3

Prepared by: Global Policy Analysis Division/OGA/FAS/USDA
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Trade Data *Denote Highest Export Levels Since at Least CY 1970 +Values of $0.05 million or more are rounded to $0.1 million.
*Biodiesel aggregate includes only higher-level and pure biodiesel HTS chapter 28 codes; biodiesel blends below 30% by volume (aka. petroleum oils containing biodiesel) found in chapter 27 are excluded.

Mexico Soybean Market Overview
(Figures in thousands of metric tons CWE*)
Indicator201720182019 (Estimated)
Total Local Production433340400
Total Domestic Consumption5,2855,5355,695
Total U.S. Exports to Mexico4,5334,9005,200
Total U.S. Imports from Mexico03050
*Carcass-Weight Equivalent (CWE)







Source: Foreign Agricultural Service's Production, Supply and Distribution (PSD) online database


The United States serves as the main exporter and supplier of soybeans to Mexico. Growth in Mexico’s livestock sector has driven growth in demand for U.S. soybeans in recent years. Soybeans are generally imported and crushed in Mexico for use as edible oil for human consumption and soy meal for livestock feed. We expect growth of approximately three percent in the oilseed meal and oils sectors over the coming year, driven by strong meal demand from the poultry and livestock sectors. Mexican oilseed crushers are expected to continue increasing oil production to keep up with population growth and meal demand. Given continued demand for soybeans for crushing, steady growth in imports is likely.

Mexico Corn Market Overview
(Figures in thousands of metric tons)
Indicator201720182019 (Estimated)
Total Local Production27,56926,70027,100
Total Domestic Consumption42,50043,90045,500
Total U.S. Exports to Mexico15,52516,20017,000
Total U.S. Imports from Mexico9588001,500









Source: Foreign Agricultural Service's Production, Supply and Distribution (PSD) online database, and U.S. Census Data

Mexico Wheat Market Overview
(Figures in thousands of metric tons)
Indicator201720182019 (Estimated)
Total Local Production3,4943,0003,200
Total Domestic Consumption7,7007,7007,500
Total U.S. Exports to Mexico3,0543,0003,300
Total U.S. Imports from Mexico1,1477001,000









Source: Foreign Agricultural Service's Production, Supply and Distribution (PSD) online database, and U.S. Census Data.

Mexico continues to be an excellent market for U.S. grains exports, despite also being a producer of these grains. Mexico was the top export destination for corn, wheat, and rice by volume in 2018. Grains imports in Mexico continue steady growth trends, with expansion in the animal feed sector driving growth for feed grains (particularly corn) rather than for food grains. Between 2019-2020, imports are expected to continue their modest growth to meet growing demand for deed and food grains. The United States is poised to remain Mexico’s principal supplier due to logistical advantages and existing business relationships.


Mexico Dairy Products Overview

Mexico is the number one export market for U.S. dairy products. Although Mexico’s domestic industry has experienced production growth, the country is a milk production-deficit nation and will continue to be an attractive market for dairy and dairy product exporters from the United States. The dairy processing industry competes for inputs and uses dairy imports to close the gap between demand and production. For example, about 97 percent of the skim milk powder consumed in Mexico is imported from the United States. Import diversification is on the horizon given the Mexico-European Union FTA modernization and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP). The new U.S.–Mexico–Canada agreement was signed in November 2018 and, as of 2019, has been ratified by the Mexican Government. For future developments on ratification and implementation of the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMC), as well as the transition from NAFTA provisions, check the relevant pages at the Office of United States Trade Representative (www.ustr.gov).

The Government of Mexico has a subsidized milk program, called Liconsa, for the neediest segment of their population. This government-owned and operated subsidized milk program has eleven thousand outlets across Mexico, serving more than six million of the neediest consumers.

The Mexican dairy industry is working in changing consumer perception of dairy products by the domestic consumption dairy products rather than just fluid milk. This effort is set not only in advertising campaigns but also in development and innovation of new dairy products appealing to different sectors of the society.


Mexico Poultry Market Overview

Strong growth is expected in the poultry and egg sectors for 2018, building on recent expansion and vertical integration. Mexico closed 2018 with a steady growth of the poultry and egg production. Chicken is still the preferred animal protein for domestic consumption due to its lower price and versatility in the Mexican kitchen. Mexico is currently the number one consumer of eggs in the world. Most of imports in poultry sectors continue to originate from the United States, while exports by Mexico are limited. A tariff quota for chicken meat has allowed Brazil to export mainly breasts and wings to Mexico.


Processing Ingredients Market Overview

Mexico continues to be a growth market and one of the best opportunities globally for U.S. processing ingredients with a strong processing sector demanding an array of inputs. U.S. processed food exports to Mexico for 2018 totaled USD 8.9 billion representing an increase of 3.6 percent from exports in 2017.
While Mexico remains a growth market for U.S. processing ingredients, the processing industry itself in Mexico remains stable with low growth as it is large and well established. However, the sector is diversifying to provide tailored products for consumers, moving away from one highly branded product line to multiple lines and niche products. Two examples include a proliferation of types of peanut butter (both in brands and varieties), and a number of independent craft beer companies bought by big brands such as AMBEV and Heineken yet maintaining their independent name. Please see the report on processing ingredients published by the Foreign Agricultural Service (GAIN: Mexico Food Processing Ingredients 2019).


Mexico Fresh Fruit Market Overview

The United States is the largest supplier of apples, pears, and grapes to the Mexican market, and this trend is expected to continue. As Mexico is a price sensitive market, apple import levels depend heavily on the peso to dollar exchange rate. The U.S. apple industry has retained its dominant market position by successfully marketing American apples through in-store promotions. The domestic supply of pears is supported by imports, primarily from the United States. Wholesale markets remain the most important fruit distribution channel for U.S. pears.

Mexico is an important market for grapes from the United States as well as Chile and Peru. The volume of Mexican grapes on the local market depends on export volumes, as producers tend to supply the international market before the domestic market. Promotional efforts have increased consumption, leading to greater domestic production and imports, of which the majority are of U.S. origin.

Opportunities

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service in Mexico is happy to assist you in exploring market opportunities. Two developing areas worth mentioning are healthy foods and the wine market.
With the rising trend in healthier eating, demand for organic and other niche food products in Mexico has grown in recent years. Presently, Mexico has some of the world’s highest indexes for obesity and diabetes, especially among children. A growing number of Mexican consumers are pursuing healthier lifestyles, which include better eating habits, making Mexico an attractive market for American exporters of healthy and/or organic food products.

The developing wine culture in Mexico creates an attractive market for U.S. wine exporters. Expanding consumer interest in wine and a thriving middle class have contributed to the expansion of this industry. Mexico’s transition to more wine consumption over other alcoholic beverages, increased interest among different consumer sectors (i.e., women and young adults), and growing interest among consumers in trying novel wines has also led to new opportunities for wine exports from the United States.

For further information about best prospects for foods in Mexico, please see USDA’s country Exporter Guide. For additional information about specific market entry sectors, see the Retail Foods, Food Processing Ingredients, or Food Service reports. These and many other useful reports are available at https://gain.fas.usda.gov/.


Web Resources

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
USDA DASGlobal Agricultural Trade System (GATS)
USDA FAS Production, Supply and Distribution online data base(PSD) online database
USDA Global Agriculture Information Network(GAIN) website

Events

  • Confitexpo (Confectionary), July 30–August 2, 2019, Guadalajara, Jalisco
  • ABASTUR (Hospitality), Sep 3–6, 2019, Mexico City
  • Agro Baja (Agriculture and Fishing), March 7–9, 2019, Mexicali, Baja California
  • ANTAD & Alimentaria (Retail, Food and Beverage), March TBD, 2020, Guadalajara, Jalisco
  • Expo Restaurantes (Restaurants), June 12–14, 2019, Mexico City

Contacts

For more information on Agricultural sectors in Mexico, please see our website at https://mexico-usda.com.mx/ or contact our Mexico offices:
Agricultural Trade Office - Mexico City
Tel.: + 52 55 5080 2000 ext. 5282
atomexico@fas.usda.gov

Agricultural Trade Office – Monterrey
Tel.: + 52 81 8047 3232
atomonterrey@fas.usda.gov

Office of Agricultural Affairs – Mexico City
Tel.: + 52 55 5080 2532
agmexico@fas.usda.gov
 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Mexico Agribusiness Trade Development and Promotion