Guatemala - Country Commercial Guide
Processed Food Products

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

Last published date: 2022-08-29


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 2021, imports of consumer-oriented products from the United States totaled $636.9 million.  The list of top 10 U.S. consumer-oriented products produced in Guatemala were:

  • Poultry Meat & Products ($172.5)
  • Pork & Pork Products ($88.5.
  • Dairy Products ($64.5)
  • Beef and beef products ($62.5)
  • Processed Vegetables ($52.5)
  • Prepared Foods ($29.2)
  • Fresh fruits ($22.7)
  • Condiments & Sauces ($22.6)
  • Dog & Cat Food ($14.4)
  • Meat products NESOI ($13.6)

The United States is Guatemala’s largest supplier of agricultural, food, fishery, and forestry products.  In 2021, exports totaled $1.6 billion.  U.S. exports of consumer ready products such as red meats, chicken, dairy products, fresh fruits, condiments, sauces, food preparations, and processed products such as baking materials are often used to improve the quality of the processed goods produced in Guatemala.  Some processors use domestic inputs in processing, but consistent supplies are not available domestically and processors rely on the U.S. to supply these goods.

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 larger 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 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.

Table: Market Sie for Processed Foods





2022 estimated

Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the US





Total Market Size





Exchange Rates





(Total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)
Units: $ thousands
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)


Processed meats:  The production of processed meats is a dynamic sector and retail value sales increased 1 percent in 2021 from the previous year, reaching $94 million.  Since the pandemic, Guatemalan consumers have increased their purchases of processed meats, especially those products that have a longer shelf life such as canned tuna, canned beef, and canned chicken meat, as well as other ready-to-cook products. The larger beef and chicken meat processors adapted to new consumer demand for ready-to-cook products and expanded their production lines of products such as patties and breaded and seasoned meats.  In Guatemala, meat sales are more typically made in butcher’s shops or at farmer’s markets, where products usually do not have a specific brand and prices are lower than those sold at grocery stores. As for chilled meats in grocery stores, ham and sausages are very popular, as they are considered proteins at affordable prices that are easy to prepare.

Bakery Products:  Guatemala is the largest market in Central America for U.S wheat and is the only country in the region that produces wheat, estimated at 8,000 MT annually; however, the local production does not compete with wheat imports from the United States.  Guatemala has an estimated per capita consumption of baked goods of 40 kg.  Bread is one of the main products included in the Guatemalan basic food basket and consumers eat artisanal baked breads known as “pan frances” (French bread), and “pan dulce” (sweet bread) as products that complement daily meals.  Bread is mostly sold through typical bakeries which are small, family-owned businesses and are usually located close to neighborhoods throughout the country.  Other foodservice companies opened larger stores which are a combination of gourmet bakeries and restaurants that offer both services in one place. 

Dairy Products:  In 2021, Guatemala’s imports of U.S. dairy products reached a record high of $64.3 million, an increase of 39 percent from 2020.  The products with the largest sales in the Guatemalan market include milk (fresh, UHT, powdered); butter; cheese (processed, fresh); yogurt; cream (heavy cream, sour cream, etc.); ice cream; whey, and casein (for the dairy processing industry).  Although purchasing power in Guatemala has been reduced due to the increasing food prices, products such as milk (fresh/powdered); cheeses (fresh); and cream (heavy cream); are within the 34 products included on the basic food basket.  Cheese production is growing and in 2021, the sector grew around 4 percent in value from the previous year, totaling $128.1 million. 


  • In person activities have 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.


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service in Guatemala:
  • Search engine for USDA reports 2022:  which includes reports updated annually such as Food and Agricultural Import Regulations, Exporter’s Guide, Retail Report, and Food Processing Report.

Contact Information  

Interested parties may contact Agricutural Specialist Karla Tay at