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Rising demand for organic foods in Mexico

January 1, 2018
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin companies can export food products as well as agricultural methods.

Demand for organic food products in Mexico has been growing over the last few years along with an overall trend toward healthier eating. Organic foods are perceived by many Mexican consumers to be healthier than conventionally grown foods. Mexico is now considered the second-most-obese country in the world, and the Mexican government has made it a priority to reverse this through education campaigns and new food nutrition laws targeting schoolchildren. As a result, a growing number of Mexican consumers are pursuing healthier lifestyles, which include better eating habits. This makes Mexico an attractive market for U.S. exporters of organic products. During 2014, organic baby food was the fastest-growing category, with a 28 percent increase in current value due to increased availability and consumer awareness.

Mexico is in the top 20 producers of organic foods worldwide, with 1.3 million acres of land dedicated to organic agriculture. Mexico is the main producer and largest exporter of organic coffee and the third-largest producer of organic honey. Other organic crops grown in Mexico include corn, cacao, avocados, sesame seeds, cactus paddles, vanilla beans, milk and dairy products. Over the last decade, several efforts had been made by the Mexican government and private sector to promote organic farming. Dozens of outdoor markets (tianguis) and farmers’ markets for organic products have been set up in different regions of Mexico—including Oaxaca, Michoacán and Chiapas, where more than 500 small producers gather to sell their products. These three states account for almost 50 percent of Mexico’s outdoor market activity. The main organic food producing states are Chiapas, Oaxaca, Michoacán, Chihuahua and Guerrero, which together account for 82 percent of the total organic crop land area.

Organic products in supermarkets and restaurants enjoy greater prestige thanks to their benefits for health and the environment. For this reason, and thanks to growing awareness, almost 420,000 acres are devoted exclusively to producing this type of agricultural industry.

Mexico is among the world’s top 20 exporting countries, and in fourth place as producer of organic foods; Japan, the U.S. and the European Union, among others, are importers of Mexican-grown organic foods.

In Mexico, more than 45 different organic products are cultivated. Of these, coffee leads in cultivated land area. Blue and white corn come in second, sesame seeds third, and following them in land area are vegetables, agave, aromatic herbs , mangoes, oranges, beans, apples, papayas and avocado. Other organic crops include soybeans, bananas, cocoa, vanilla, peanuts, pineapples, hibiscus, lemons, coconuts, walnuts, lychee, chickpeas, passionfruit and peaches.

Organic agriculture also includes animal products. In order to qualify, animals must be fed exclusively with organic feed, must have grazed outdoors, and must not have consumed hormones or antibiotics. Mexico excels in the production of organic milk, eggs and meat.

Organic production in Mexico is of great social importance, as it is an activity that engages small producers, indigenous groups (representing just over 50 percent of producers), and the poorest sectors of the rural environment.

Although organic products tend to be more expensive, the domestic market interested in consuming this type of products is growing by 10 percent annually. The generation born between 1979 and 2000 is driving this market, because they consider themselves to be healthier and more natural consumers, and also like to try ethnic and artisan foods.

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