Mexico - Country Commercial Guide
Agriculture

Best Prospect sector includes market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-02

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 is the United States’ third-largest agricultural trading partner. In 2020, U.S. agricultural and related product exports to Mexico totaled USD 18.3 billion. Even after taking into account the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the United States maintained its number one position in Mexico´s agricultural imports with nearly 70 percent market share. The United States remains Mexico’s principal agricultural trading partner, receiving USD 33 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 has emerged from producers in the European Union, South America, and Asia. Additionally, starting with the inauguration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration 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, such as corn and milk.

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 (excluding eggs), sugar and sweeteners, milled grains, and distiller’s grains . It is the second or third-largest market for more than 20 other key product groups such as soybeans, pork, beef, wheat, oilseed meals, fresh fruit, and many processed foods or beverages. Below are summaries of a few of these 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 gain.fas.usda.gov.

Major Agricultural Exports from the United States to Mexico
(Values in thousands of dollars)

Product

Calendar Years
(January-December)

January-May

Comparisons

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2020

2021

% Change

FAS Agricultural Total

17,983,548

18,815,667

19,303,349

19,398,666

18,336,292

7,576,157

10,102,012

33

Grains & Feeds

4,836,055

5,189,443

5,471,188

5,496,515

5,299,701

2,330,618

3,295,656

41

Corn

2,549,764

2,645,453

3,060,795

2,735,928

2,680,206

1,122,347

1,884,616

68

Wheat

611,643

852,074

662,147

811,945

777,575

343,146

521,560

52

Rice

266,473            

291,689            

269,621

279,930

247,078

127,508

129,425

2

Barley Products

161,882

211,435

210,030

210,887

183,180

69,562

96,397

39

Wheat Flour

92,834

76,824

83,742

91,828

99,650

43,101

42,016

-3

Oilseeds & Products

3,156,738

3,036,905

3,247,320

3,239,480

3,247,695

1,284,767

1,892,320

47

Soybeans

1,462,213

1,574,232

1,817,951

1,878,128

1,877,857

715,810

1,119,552

56

Other Oilseed Prod.

203,739

201,738

192,604

203,992

203,997

84,566

108,170

28

Peanuts

116,573

127,967

131,539

133,793

125,062

52,633

58,111

10

Soybean Oil

226,820

202,048

128,686

112,536

97,950

60,599

28,077

-54

Other Oils

46,122

46,641

43,169

24,018

27,741

11,846

11,351

-4

Sunflower seed

15,933

15,866

8,877

6,516

4,699

1,960

5,153

163

Horticultural Products

2,729,273

2,887,634

3,101,363

3,056,327

2,992,468

1,137,590

1,463,430

29

Other Hort Products

1,160,549

1,179,373

1,264,692

1,182,587

1,112,815

450,342

549,389

22

Vegetables and Preparations

652,222

723,062

676,495

735,080

801,433

295,306

455,270

54

Fruits and Preparations

663,235

729,071

790,166

797,208

750,794

245,803

330,516

34

Tree Nuts And Preparations

253,267

256,128

370,010

341,453

327,427

146,139

128,255

-12

Livestock & Meats

3,098,449

3,405,704

3,117,041

3,085,946

2,661,990

1,089,408

1,425,008

31

Pork, Fr/Ch/Fz

1,020,124

1,154,068

1,005,813

966,811

913,715

373,717

512,420

37

Beef & Veal,Fr/Ch/Fz

707,373

742,010

824,470

821,009

618,925

263,154

301,701

15

Variety Meats, Beef

266,644

233,052

229,566

276,851

227,814

91,091

101,477

11

Variety Meats, Pork

187,676

191,422

152,033

148,532

114,070

49,149

65,144

33

Dairy & Products

1,199,187

1,292,741

1,374,893

1,526,161

1,401,026

575,799

667,362

16

Non-Fat Dry Milk

541,684

570,133

657,625

779,105

707,710

279,830

355,827

27

Cheese And Curd

362,184

390,894

387,469

419,444

428,048

183,520

181,013

-1

Whey

65,140

90,180

92,470

111,925

78,901

36,317

42,612

17

Fluid Milk And Cream

32,478

37,106

25,534

23,012

18,602

7,503

6,659

-11

Butter And Milkfat

33,205

15,186

32,757

11,566

10,966

5,098

4,295

-16

Dry Whole Milk&Cream

20,619

11,458

17,781

11,067

7,866

2,807

5,851

108

Poultry & Products

1,137,503

1,124,609

1,143,432

1,280,067

1,197,360

521,364

632,812

21

Broiler Meat

517,243

516,088

516,806

604,783

574,439

254,561

346,350

36

Turkey Meat

349,615

355,354

389,257

426,644

378,767

158,390

158,117

 

Egg and Egg Products

181,039

169,406

166,108

181,380

191,637

82,986

98,612

19

Other Poultry Meat

64,602

61,131

49,713

45,394

30,199

16,737

19,994

19

Sugar & Tropical Products

1,057,262

1,094,277

1,079,771

1,056,183

941,942

393,802

401,932

2

Sugar & Rel Pdt,X Hon

657,536

716,061

725,125

675,726

609,160

243,353

240,014

-1

Cocoa & Cocoa Prod.

239,147

231,033

218,361

220,953

180,471

77,213

87,132

13

Sugar & Trop, Misc.

78,736

55,994

44,616

48,949

62,734

35,482

31,294

-12

Coffee & Coffee Prod

26,341

37,268

34,178

42,009

35,542

14,446

15,831

10

Tea, Incl Herbal Tea

35,713

31,738

26,463

38,574

32,281

12,558

15,750

25

Planting Seeds

296,202

263,111

244,519

226,820

213,789

86,576

92,083

6

Cotton, Linters & Waste

342,115

408,405

374,350

291,494

180,813

58,898

158,500

169

Ethanol (non-bev.)

58,304

56,379

50,504

49,021

118,699

57,185

27,136

-53

Tobacco & Products

72,460

56,460

98,968

90,652

80,809

40,149

45,773

14

                   

Note: Not all sub-categories of products are listed here. Go to data source to see full table.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau Trade Data

Product Group: FAS (Agricultural)

Mexico Soybean Market Overview


(Figures in thousands of metric tons)

Indicator

2019

2020

2021 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

235

240

300

Total Domestic Consumption

6,052

6,245

6,500

Total U.S. Exports to Mexico

4,954

5,300

5,350

Total U.S. Imports from Mexico

0

0

0

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 1 percent in the oilseed meal and 3.1 percent in the oil sector over the coming year, driven by continued 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)

Indicator

2019

2020

2021 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

26,658

27,000

28,000

Total Domestic Consumption

43,800

43,500

43,800

Total U.S. Exports to Mexico

14,628

14,605

14,870

Total U.S. Imports from Mexico

36

49

49

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)

Indicator

2019

2020

2021 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

3,270

2,965

3,050

Total Domestic Consumption

7,400

7,200

7,400

Total U.S. Exports to Mexico

3,885

3,709

3,700

Total U.S. Imports from Mexico

37

43

43

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 2019. 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. In 2021, imports are expected to continue their modest growth to meet growing demand for feed 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 dairy production-deficit nation and will continue to be an attractive market for U.S. dairy and dairy product exporters. 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 Free Trade Agreement modernization and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP). The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed in November 2018, was ratified by the Mexican Government in 2019, and entered into force on July 1, 2020. For more information on the USMCA, as well as the transition from North American Free Trade Agreement provisions, please refer to the Office of United States Trade Representative website (www.ustr.gov).

The Government of Mexico has a subsidized milk program, managed by a government agency known as Liconsa, for the neediest segment of its population. This government-owned and operated subsidized milk program has 11,000 outlets across Mexico, serving more than six million of the neediest consumers.

The Mexican dairy industry is working on changing consumer perception of dairy products by encouraging domestic consumption of a wider range of dairy products beyond only fluid milk. These efforts are characterized not only by advertising campaigns but also in development and innovation of new dairy products appealing to different sectors of the society.

Mexico Poultry and Egg Market Overview

For 2021, continued production growth is expected in the poultry and egg sectors, building on recent expansion and vertical integration. Mexico closed 2019 with steady growth of poultry and egg production. Chicken meat is still the preferred animal protein for domestic consumption due to its lower price and versatility in Mexican cuisine. Mexico is the number one consumer of eggs in the world. Most poultry and egg imports continue to originate in the United States, while exports by Mexico are limited. Notably, a third-country tariff-rate quota for chicken meat has allowed Brazil and Chile to expand market share through breast and wing exports.

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. Despite the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the food processing industry in Mexico remains stable with low growth, as it is large and well established. It currently ranks 11th in the world and third in Latin America. 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 peanut butter types (both brands and varieties), and a number of independent craft beer companies being bought by big brands such as AMBEV and Heineken yet maintaining their independent name. Such mergers benefit the parent company, as well as the acquired brand. Also, some smaller companies branded their products a health product to take advantage of current trends and were quickly acquired by larger corporations covering mainstream distribution channels. Please see the report on processing ingredients published by the Foreign Agricultural Service (GAIN: Mexico Food Processing Ingredients 2021).

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, fruit import levels depend heavily on U.S. product prices, exchange rates, and the availability of lower cost fruits. 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, as production in Mexico continues to decline. 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 from 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. Consumers prefer a wide selection of varieties, which has led to increased U.S. grape exports to Mexico.

Opportunities

The U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service in Mexico is happy to assist you in exploring market opportunities. Two developing areas worth mentioning are health foods and the wine market.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend of healthier eating was growing quickly and now it seems to be here to stay. Even before the pandemic the demand for organic products, alternative ingredients, and other niche food products in Mexico was growing year after year. As diseases such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes (which are very common in Mexico) are factors that can increase the severity of a COVID-19 infection, a growing number of Mexican consumers are pursuing healthier lifestyles. These changes 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 in this upper-middle income country has 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. Additionally, the USMCA contains a chapter with non-discrimination and transparency commitments regarding the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages and labeling and certification provisions to help avoid technical barriers in the trade of wine and distilled spirits.

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. USDA provides many additional useful reports via its Global Agricultural Information Network website (gain.fas.usda.gov).

Resources

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

 

USDA DAS

 

USDA FAS Production, Supply and Distribution online data base

 

USDA Global Agriculture Information Network

 

Events

  • ABASTUR (Hospitality), Mexico City
  • ANTAD & Alimentaria (Retail, Food, and Beverage), Guadalajara, Jalisco
  • Expo Restaurantes (Restaurants), Mexico City
  • Food Tech Summit, Mexico City

Contacts

For more information on agricultural sectors in Mexico, please see our website (mexico-usda.com.mx) or contact USDA’s 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