Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Panamanians are consuming more of both convenience foods and health foods, creating opportunities in both segments.

Panama continues to be an attractive market for U.S. food products, especially for the food service sector. The country’s major logistical facilities, such as the Panama Canal and ports on both oceans, make it an important hub in the Americas. Major hotels, fine restaurants and international corporations have a home in Panama, as does a huge expatriate community, all of which fuels demand for imported U.S. food, beverages and agricultural products. The Panamanian market offers export opportunities for additives, preservatives, flavorings, vegetable colorings, sauces, condiments, grains (especially wheat, yellow corn and rice), semi-processed products such as soybean meal and soybean oil, and a wide a range of high-quality consumer-oriented products, such as bakery products, snacks, ready-to-eat products, beverages, breakfast cereals, sugar confectionary and food preparations, gourmet food products, and low-fat, sugar-free and fat-free food products, because most of the food products found in supermarkets are not processed locally.

In recent years, Panamanians have been consuming more of both convenience foods and health foods. This has resulted in good prospects for U.S. food exports such as low-fat, low-sodium, gluten-free, sugar-free, fresh fruits (such as apples, grapes, peaches and pears), organic foods, processed fruits (especially canned fruits) and snack foods (including corn chips, popcorn, cookies and candies), processed canned vegetables (especially canned mixed vegetables, yellow sweet corn, peas, mushrooms and garbanzo beans) and frozen processed products (pizzas, ready-to-eat food) all have high import demand.

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

The Americas Food & Beverage Show is the largest food and beverage trade event in the Western Hemisphere. It is held annually in September in Miami . The trade show, with 450 exhibitors and more than 11,000 attendees, is particularly known for attracting potential customers and distributors from Central America, including Panama. The Americas Food & Beverage Show will be held Sept. 23-24, 2019, at the Miami Beach Convention Center.