Mexico - Commercial Guide
Agriculture

Best Prospect sector includes market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-08-17

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’ second-largest agricultural partner. In 2019, U.S. agricultural and related product exports to Mexico totaled USD 20 billion with overall bilateral agricultural trade nearing USD 50 billion. The United States remains Mexico’s principal agricultural trading partner, receiving almost USD 29 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, horticulture, and many processed foods or beverages. Below are 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-February Comparisons

Product

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2019

2020

% Chg

Bulk Total

5,375.8

5,710.3

6,194.4

6,566.7

6,402.0

1,045.3

1,060.9

1

Corn

2,302.2

2,549.8

2,645.5

3,060.8

2,719.0

459.6

414.9

-10

Soybeans

1,432.2

1,462.2

1,574.2

1,822.4

1,866.7

293.5

328.4

12

Wheat

650.9

611.6

852.1

662.1

812.1

133.5

144.6

8

Cotton

332.0

339.6

403.9

371.7

287.7

58.2

38.1

-35

Rice

283.6

266.5

291.7

268.0

275.1

39.4

43.5

10

Coarse Grains (ex. corn)

78.3

132.3

78.7

39.2

131.7

10.4

38.6

270

Other Bulk

126.5

128.8

131.8

127.2

130.4

18.2

22.2

22

Tobacco

54.1

69.8

52.5

90.7

77.2

18.9

13.3

-30

Pulses

73.2

89.5

111.8

89.5

76.9

10.7

15.6

46

Oilseeds (ex. soybean)

42.7

60.3

52.3

35.2

25.3

2.9

1.7

-42

Intermediate Total

3,941.9

4,065.1

4,062.3

3,938.9

3,789.3

603.5

636.4

5

Other Intermed. Products

830.8

897.9

1,126.4

983.8

941.4

172.1

160.1

-7

Soybean Meal

800.2

800.8

578.6

665.1

642.4

87.1

103.4

19

Sugar, Sweetnrs, Bev. Bases

632.5

620.5

664.8

649.2

600.9

86.3

88.4

2

Distillers Grains

346.3

355.8

374.4

415.6

421.0

77.3

73.1

-5

Planting Seeds

250.7

297.7

264.7

246.9

231.3

38.5

38.7

1

Animal Fats

242.9

240.0

213.6

231.8

231.3

35.1

41.2

17

Feeds & Fodders NESOI

146.4

153.6

158.2

184.0

229.1

25.3

49.5

96

Vegetable Oils (ex. soybean)

223.6

196.6

210.1

183.0

163.5

25.9

29.4

14

Soybean Oil

210.8

226.8

202.0

128.7

112.5

20.9

22.0

5

Live Animals

127.1

121.8

128.5

115.2

108.9

17.5

15.2

-14

Hides & Skins

130.2

153.2

140.6

135.3

106.8

17.6

15.3

-13

Hay

0.3

0.3

0.5

0.2

0.1

0.0

0.0

175

Consum.-Oriented Tot.

8,377.7

8,051.5

8,341.3

8,590.1

8,964.9

1,369.6

1,534.8

12

Dairy Products

1,280.1

1,217.8

1,312.3

1,397.5

1,545.5

231.5

260.9

13

Pork & Pork Products

1,268.2

1,359.6

1,514.1

1,310.7

1,278.4

171.3

242.3

41

Beef & Beef Products

1,092.5

977.3

979.1

1,058.3

1,106.7

197.9

217.0

10

Poultry Meat & Prods. (ex. eggs)

1,029.0

931.5

932.6

955.8

1,076.8

141.1

183.9

30

Prepared Food

704.6

709.6

678.5

743.2

777.1

129.9

127.0

-2

Fresh Fruit

560.3

501.1

570.4

618.6

610.2

73.0

76.2

4

Tree Nuts

269.1

253.3

256.2

370.7

343.5

57.9

59.3

2

Snack Foods NESOI

293.2

296.1

283.0

319.7

342.0

54.7

53.7

-2

Processed Vegetables

302.1

298.1

309.0

288.4

296.9

46.3

55.5

20

Condiments & Sauces

218.3

220.6

214.0

215.1

242.9

36.2

43.0

19

Choc. & Cocoa Prods.

236.8

239.1

231.0

218.4

220.8

39.3

38.1

-3

Fresh Vegetables

122.6

100.8

134.1

141.4

193.3

34.9

28.6

-18

Eggs & Products

186.4

181.0

169.4

166.1

181.4

28.9

36.6

27

Non-Alc. Bev. (ex. juices)

137.3

116.0

139.4

123.2

149.0

26.8

24.7

-8

Processed Fruit

119.4

112.0

120.3

125.9

134.5

21.3

22.1

4

Dog & Cat Food

67.1

76.9

85.1

89.7

103.4

16.4

19.1

17

Other Consumr-Oriented

85.8

80.4

76.9

94.8

102.6

17.8

14.3

-19

Meat Products NESOI

96.3

90.9

83.4

86.8

84.4

14.2

12.6

-11

Wine & Beer

205.2

184.8

170.1

178.7

78.0

11.6

5.7

-51

Fruit & Vegetable Juices

63.9

54.2

43.4

46.3

54.2

12.6

7.7

-39

Breakfast Cereals

39.7

50.2

39.1

40.9

43.4

6.2

6.4

3

Ag Related Products

877.1

868.4

870.5

882.6

898.0

153.2

144.7

-6

Forest Products

694.6

692.6

700.8

710.6

709.0

120.3

110.0

-9

Distilled Spirits

47.2

38.1

44.4

60.9

72.0

11.5

8.4

-26

Fish Products

50.0

65.7

57.3

56.3

64.1

10.5

14.7

39

Ethanol (non-bev.)

67.2

58.3

56.4

50.5

51.3

10.2

11.2

10

Biodiesel & Blends >B30

18.0

13.7

11.6

4.3

1.6

0.6

0.4

-36

Agricultural Products

17,695.0

17,826.9

18,598.0

19,095.7

19,156.2

3,018.5

3,232.1

7.1

Ag & Related Products

18,572.4

18,695.3

19,468.5

19,978.2

20,054.2

3,171.7

3,376.8

6.5

Preppared by: Global Policy Analysis Division/OGA/FAS/USDA

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 Overveiw

(Figures in thousands of metric tons)

Indicator

2018

2019

2020 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

338

250

250

Total Domestic Consumption

6,195

6,252

6,302

Total U.S. Exports to Mexico

5,300

5,350

5,429

Total U.S. Imports from Mexico

3

2,183

2,500

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 1.7 percent in the oilseed meal and one 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

2018

2019

2020 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

27,671

25,600

27,100

Total Domestic Consumption

44,100

44,500

45,550

Total U.S. Exports to Mexico

16,755

15,400

16,500

Total U.S. Imports from Mexico

718

600

600

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

2018

2019

2020 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

3,000

3,290

3300

Total Domestic Consumption

7,500

7,500

7,600

Total U.S. Exports to Mexico

3,349

4,320

4,300

Total U.S. Imports from Mexico

526

1,000

750

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. Between 2020 and 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 milk 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 FTA 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, 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 its 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 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 Market Overview
For 2020, continued 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 the Mexican kitchen. Mexico is 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 third-country tariff-rate 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. Though 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. It currently ranks ninth 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 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. 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 2020).

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 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 health foods and the wine market.

With the rising trend in healthier eating, demand for organic products, alternative ingredients, 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 DAS

Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS)

USDA FAS Production, Supply and Distribution online data base

(PSD) online database

USDA Global Agriculture Information Network

(GAIN) website

Events

Contacts

For more information on Agricultural sectors in Mexico, please see our website at https://mexico-usda.com.mx/ or contact our

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