Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The principal food products imported from the U.S. are pet food, meats, chocolates and bakery ingredients.

Costa Rican consumers trust and enjoy the food products made with raw materials and ingredients from the U.S. Demand has increased steadily since implementation of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Market potential for high-value U.S. products continues to increase, with impressive growth in products such as beef, poultry, wine, beer and pet food, to name a few. Proximity to the Costa Rican market is also a major advantage for U.S. exporters who wish to visit or communicate with potential customers. The proximity facilitates close contact and the building of strong relationships with clients, agents and distributors, who typically represent U.S. exporters in the national and regional markets.

The principal food products imported from the U.S. are pet food, meats, chocolates and bakery ingredients, according to the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade. Costa Rica’s population has followed the trend toward more ready-to-eat foods, so demand for this type of product has increased domestically. The local food processing industry is responding to this demand, and products like refrigerated tacos, tortillas, instant soups and noodles, and desserts, among others, have good market potential in Costa Rica. In addition, there is expanded demand for functional foods, such as milk containing Omega 3 fatty acids and added calcium. The trend for artisanal beer is creating a greater demand for beer ingredients, while increased production of food products for export is increasing demand for ingredients such as oils, grains and mechanically deboned meat. The local dairy industry is continuously launching novelty products, including cheeses, yogurts, and ice cream for the domestic and international markets. Bakery products, dry pasta and canned foods have expanded significantly, and novelty products are being launched on a regular basis—all of which expands demands for novel functional ingredients.

In 2018, food/agricultural exports from the U.S. to Costa Rica totaled $817.2 million, reflecting an 8% compound annualized growth rate (CAGR) since 2014. Consumer-oriented products accounted for $336.8 million, a new record high reflecting a 10.5% CAGR since 2014. Costa Rica also imported an abundance of U.S. processed foods, totaling $296.7 million in 2018--a growth rate of 12%. Top U.S. processed food exports to Costa Rica included food preparations, processed vegetables and snack foods, chocolate and confectionery, dog and cat food, non-alcoholic beverages and prepared/preserved dairy products.

The majority of consumer food imports are purchased through a local importer, distributor or wholesaler. It is common practice for larger retailers to assume the role of the middleman and cover all or most aspects of the product supply chain.

Held each September in Miami, the Americas Food & Beverage Show is the largest food and beverage trade event in the Western Hemisphere.  The trade show, which typically draws 450 exhibitors and more than 11,000 attendees, is particularly interesting for attracting potential customers and distributors from Central America, including Costa Rica.