Guatemala - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sector: Processed Food Products

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-08-10

Overview

Companies in Guatemala manufacture food products under the following categories:

  • Beverages: juice concentrates powdered drinks and mixes, non-alcoholic beverages
  • Preserved foods: canned fruits and vegetables, jams, jellies
  • Snacks: potato and corn chips, confectionary, nuts, seeds, and trail mixes
  • Other processed foods: frozen products (tacos, tamales, pupusas), soups, condiments, sauces, bakery, deli meats, dairy products

In 2020, imports of consumer-oriented products from the United States totaled $551 million.  The list of top 10 U.S. consumer-oriented products produced in Guatemala were:

  1. Poultry Meat & Products ($111.9)
  2. Soups and other food prep. ($60.0)
  3. Pork & Pork Products ($54.4)
  4. Dairy Products ($50.0)
  5. Processed Vegetables ($44.3)
  6. Beef and beef products ($37.5)
  7. Fresh fruits ($35.8)
  8. Bakery goods, cereals, pasta ($24.1)
  9. Condiments & Sauces ($21.5)
  10. Meat products NESOI ($18.0)

Guatemala is one of the major food processing countries in Central America.  Domestic brands offer a wide variety of products that include shelf-stable, ready-to-eat meals such as canned and refried beans, tomato paste and sauce, soy-based ready meals, and instant noodle soups, among other products.  These products are available to consumers not only in local supermarkets, but also at corner stores, and open-air-markets throughout the country. 

The Guatemalan food processing industry exports to other countries as well and is one of the fastest growing sectors of the food industry.  Approximately 25 percent of the food and beverage companies in Guatemala are large processors, 50 percent are medium-sized companies, and the rest are small processing companies.

U.S. food ingredient producers that want to enter the Guatemalan market may contact the local food processors directly or through local importers/agents/distributors depending on the type of product.  The largest food processors usually prefer to import directly from the suppliers, while medium and smaller processors are sometimes not familiar with importing procedures and prefer to purchase inputs from a local distributor.  The key to enter in the market is to match local prices with higher quality inputs as Guatemala is a price-conscious market. 

U.S. products are well known for their quality and safety; therefore, local food processors are looking for U.S. companies that can supply products that comply with these two important factors.  Local companies prefer to establish long-term business relationships with U.S. suppliers that can offer good credit terms, customer service, and marketing support.

Overview of the consumer-oriented sector.

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 est.

Total Exports 

2,970,167

3,261,518

3,793,008

4,400,000

Total Imports 

1,737,396

1,888,375

1,861,723

1,750,000

Imports from the US 

509,876

572,925

551,012

532,000

Exchange Rates 

7.50 

7.50 

7.50 

7.50 

(Total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)
Units: $ millions
Source: Trade Data Monitor and Bank of Guatemala

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Chocolate and Confectionary
  • Condiments and Sauces
  • Food preparations (protein concentrates, ingredients & beverage bases, baking inputs)
  • Prepared/Preserved Meats
  • Processed vegetables (French fries, canned vegetables)
  • Dairy products (cheeses, whey protein, cream & powdered/condensed milk)
  • Snacks (mixes of nuts, baked snack foods)

Opportunities

  •  Consumption trends in Guatemala are very much influenced by the United States not only because it is Guatemala’s largest trading partner but also because high-value foods are more affordable to some families thanks to remittances sent by more than one million Guatemalans living and working in the United States.
  • The trend towards more ready-to-eat foods and demand for these types of products is growing in Guatemala.  The local processing industry is taking advantage of this niche market and products such as refrigerated tacos, tortillas, burritos, corn-based tamales, and instant soups are among the preferred foods in the supermarkets not only for being easy to prepare but also because of affordable prices.
  • Some of the major U.S. companies that have presence in the Guatemalan food processing industry are Cargill, Chiquita Brands International, Frito Lay, Pepsi-Co Bottling Co., Ralston Purina, Del Monte, and Wal-Mart.  Bimbo from Mexico and Nestlé from Switzerland are present in the country as important foreign investors.  Local companies are also growing not only because of a higher local demand but also because exports are increasing every year.
  • Healthy foods, natural, and organic are the growing niche markets; however, these types of products are more commonly imported products and, therefore, marketed towards the upper-class consumers.

Resources

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service in Guatemala.

Search engine for USDA reports 2021: https://gain.fas.usda.gov/  which includes reports updated annually such as Food and Agricultural Import Regulations, Exporter’s Guide, Retail Report, and Food Processing Report.

Shows: In person activities had been postponed since March 2020 and there are no official dates for re-activating shows.  Prior Covid-19, Feria Alimentaria was the largest food trade show in Guatemala City and was carried out in September of each year. This is the largest food show in Guatemala with approximately 200 stands with local companies that exhibit and promote food products, services, packing, and equipment for the restaurant and hotel industries.  The show is also used to address end consumers, introducing new products into the market. During the show there are chef competitions and cooking presentations.

Contact Information

Interested parties may contact Agricutural Specialist Karla Tay at KayTM@state.gov.