Although all sectors support the Mexican economy, there are some sectors which are more representative than others. For the last 20 years, the agri-food sector has been an example of endurance and results. Millions of people work in this sector, whose exports have done nothing but increasing. In 2015, for the first time in over 20 years, a surplus in the balance of trade was achieved for the sector, exceeding $2 billion dollars. The sector has had significant surpluses ever since.
According to Banco de México, in November 2021, 4% of exports were farming products. Here, it should be noted that oil companies represented 5.6%, which remarks the importance of our sector. Most of the exports were in the manufacturer sector.
According to an analysis by Grupo Consultor de Mercados Agrícolas, accumulated agri-food exports this month amounted $39.941 billion dollars, a 13% above compared to last year. In addition, there was a $7,386 billion dollars surplus. This is a considerably lower amount, a 36% less compared to 2020. We will soon know if December can make it even for the year.
Beer has led the list of exports for years now. I remember when, back in 2015, beer exports were of about $2.5 billion dollars. In November 2021 report, exports were already over $5 billion dollars. The second most significant exports caught my eye: tequila, with exports for $2.976 billion dollars, doubling in just 5 years. This leads me to think about its brother, Mezcal. According to TradeMap, in 2012 $264,000 dollars of Mezcal, a very popular Mexican alcoholic beverage, were exported. In 2018, the last year available on the platform, Mexico exported $52,960,000 dollars. Impressive. This is a great opportunity for Sinaloa, which has recently obtained the denomination of origin, promotes the production and exports of this agave distillate.
The “green gold” misses a step and drops to the third position in this period. Livestock and meat go down to a very decent fourth place with $2,722 billion dollars. Berries ranked fifth with $2,477 billion dollars. Here, I can see a bit of cheating as berries include strawberries with blueberries and raspberries. Before and generally, they were classified separately. And on fifth, the one which for many years until recently it was ranked second, tomato, with $2, 2275 billion dollars. It is worth mentioning that out of the 5 products mentioned above, tomato was the only one with a 3.8% reduction on this same date compared to the year before.
Among the 3 fresh products at the top of the list: avocado, berries and tomato, the most widely known by the consumer and with the highest volume of sales is tomato, although its consumption is not growing much as the years go by. In the case of berries and avocado, the potential for the consumer is huge. A couple of years ago, we visited Avocados From Mexico in Houston. Magnificent facilities! There, they showed us very interesting statistics and curious facts. For example, 50% of households in the US have never tasted avocado. We also learned that guacamole’s main competitor in sandwiches and burgers is…bacon. As you will see, the potential for more avocados to be sold is tremendous. Similarly, it is important to note that avocado prices are much higher per kilogram than other vegetables. For a matter of comparison, during the 2017-2018 season, Sinaloa exported 847,000 tons with a value of $803 million dollars ($0.95 per kg). That same year, Mexico exported 1,198,000 tons of avocado for $2,542 billion dollars ($2.12 per kg).
From my point of view, the key to regaining those first places in tomato exports (and it applies to everything we grow in Sinaloa) is not to produce more, but to sell better. It is true, 99.9% of Mexico’s (and Sinaloa’s) tomato is exported only to the US and Canada, whereas avocados and berries go as far as Shanghai and Dubai. However, in this captive market we have in North America there a lot more we can do: get closer to the consumer, promote consumption even more, and eliminate middle men. How? By venturing into selling directly. Let’s travel to NY, Chicago, Seattle, LA, Boston and many other cities, with Bluebook in hand and knocking on doors. It sounds very easy, but truth is this is very complicated. But I also know it is possible, because I know growers from Sinaloa who are already making it happen.