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: 2020-07-28


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% of the food and beverage companies in Guatemala are large processors, 50% 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.

Guatemala is a price-conscious market and the key to entering the market is matching local prices with higher quality inputs. 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.





2020 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 (

In 2019, imports of consumer-oriented products from the U.S. totaled $510 million. Top consumer-oriented products produced in Guatemala included:

· Poultry Meat & Products (exc. eggs)

· Dairy Products

· Pork and Pork Products

· Processed Vegetables

· Beef & Beef Products

· Prepared Foods

· Wine & Beer

· Fresh Fruits

· Snack Foods

· Condiments & Sauces

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)


· 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 in 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.

Web Resources

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

· Search engine for USDA reports 2020:  which includes reports updated annually such as Food and Agricultural Import Regulations, Exporter’s Guide, Retail Report, and Food Processing Report.

· Shows: Feria Alimentaria Guatemala City - September 2020      (  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.


Interested parties may contact Agricutural Specialist Karla Tay at