Market Intelligence
Food and Beverage Panama Central America Economic Development and Investment

Panama Food and Beverages Market

U.S. processed foods exports are growing, reaching $557 million in 2021, in comparison to $433 million in 2020.

Panama’s economy continues to strengthen in 2022. It was ranked the second fastest-growing economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States has the largest market share followed by Brazil and Argentina, and U.S. products are high quality and are well accepted overall by Panamanian consumers. The U.S. processed foods exports growth in the past years is driven by the recovery of the market after the pandemic, new investments, tourism, and because of the Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional sector.

Panama’s customs and shipping infrastructure make it easy to transport food and beverage items. The customs clearance process in Panama is relatively fast and trouble-free for U.S. exporters that comply with local requirements. Furthermore, most import duties were reduced or will be phased out to duty-free in 15 years due to the Trade Promotion Agreement. Domestic products are generally transported by regular or refrigerated trucks. Location dependent, most of Panama’s trade moves through the Manzanillo International Terminal, Cristobal, Colon Container Terminal, or Colon Port Terminal bearing north (Atlantic), and through the Ports of Balboa and PSA Panama International Terminal bearing south (Pacific). Air cargo is handled through Tocumen International Airport. Grain is handled at Desarrollo Posicional in the Atlantic coast before ground transport to its destination. 

Best prospects categories:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Bakery ingredients
  • Beef, pork, poultry, and seafood
  • Condiments and cooking ingredients
  • Frozen foods
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Processed food
  • Among others

Panama’s tourism industry is an important driver of food and beverage demand. The Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional sector in Panama contributes significantly to Panama’s economy and is driven by international tourism. With an increase of 166.4% during the first two quarters of 2022, Panama continues positioning the country as a tourist destination, based on the model of Sustainable Tourism, which prioritizes the empowerment of communities highlighting the rich biodiversity, ethnic diversity, combining innovation, and the fusion of different gastronomical cultures.

SaborUSA is a strategic cross-media marketing plan managed by The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Panama that promotes demand generation for food and beverages imported from the U.S.A. Under the tagline “Unidos Por Los Sabores”, the campaign celebrates the gastronomic ties between Panama and the United States of America. U.S. exporters are encouraged to review the SaborUSA work and contact them with collaboration ideas.

For more information, please visit the FAS Panama Report.

If you are interested in the food and beverages sector in Panama, contact your local U.S. Commercial Service office or contact Fabiana Ortega, Commercial Assistant in Panama, at Fabiana.Ortega@trade.gov.

10/26/2022