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Mexican tomato production forecast at 3.4 million tons in 2018/19 campaign

tomato exports and imports mx

Mexico’s fresh tomato production for 2018/19 is expected to be 3.4 million metric tons, assuming favourable weather conditions. The production area has been declining in recent times, but yields have increased due to a shift from open-field planting to protected agriculture areas. Protected agriculture is thriving in Mexico as producers become aware of the benefits in production, quality, pest control, and reduced risk exposure to climate change. The tomato planted area for 2018/19 is forecast at 49,600 hectares, which is slightly lower than in 2017/18. The area planted is very much affected by the US market conditions, as, in addition to supplying the domestic Mexican market, growers try to plant only what the US market will absorb.

During the winter season, the state of Sinaloa is the main producer and exporter of fresh tomatoes, while during the summer season, Baja California, Michoacán, Jalisco, and San Luis Potosi are the main producers. Exports are expected to reach 1.7 million tons in 2018/19, with the US remaining Mexico’s largest export market. However, these figures are difficult to estimate since the Tomato Suspension Agreement between the two countries is currently undergoing revision. The agreement, signed in 2013, is renegotiated every five years and sets different floor prices for Mexican fresh tomatoes during the summer and winter as well as specifying prices for open field/adapted-environment and controlled-environment production.

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Slowdown of expansion of Mexican protected agriculture

tomato mexico

Mexico’s tomato production is expected to remain stable in 2018/19 at 3.4 million tons. However, there has been a shift in recent years from open field production to higher-yielding protected agriculture. Nevertheless, despite growing rapidly over the past few years to 15,200 ha in 2016/17, Mexico’s greenhouse tomato production has begun to slow, with less than 1,000 ha added last year.

Mexico’s farmers are being attracted to protected agriculture due to the benefits it offers in terms of production, quality, pest control, and reduced risk exposure to climate change. The main products produced using this technology are tomato (70%), bell pepper (16%), cucumber (10%), as well as flowers, chilli peppers, berries, and papaya.

In the state of Sinaloa alone, where there is a traditional winter tomato cycle, around 14,000 ha are devoted to tomatoes, of which about 3,800 ha are under protected production. These shade-houses are mainly for exported produce. While open field production tends to yield around 50 tons/ha, greenhouse/shade-house yields generally range from 150 tons/ha to 200 tons/ha, although they vary significantly among producers, variety, and state.

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New trade agreement between EU and Mexico lowers tariffs on bananas

banano mexico

A new trade agreement between the EU and Mexico will cover more than 85% of the sectors which were not covered by the previous agreement, including agriculture. The only products excluded relate to the sugar sector. Mexico’s banana exports will obtain the preferential tariff of €75/ton. For fruits not yet liberalised, such as apples, full liberalisation will be achieved in ten years, with tinned peaches to be liberalised within 7 years.

The section on Agriculture contains a declaratory article on cooperation in international fora on matters related to trade in agriculture. It particularly regards exports restrictions which may affect the availability of supplies in the international markets. There is a second article on Export Competition reaffirming all Parties’ commitment to the WTO Nairobi Declaration, eliminating all export subsidies and those measures not allowed by the WTO agreements. It also establishes a mechanism of transparency and exchange of information.

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All about blueberries in Latin America

All about blueberries in Latin America

Find out why Chile is in a leading position, how Argentina seeks to differentiate itself based on the taste of its blueberries, what is changing in terms of Mexico’s blueberry expertise, and more.

Peru establishes itself as major player in region

“Peru has been able to capitalise on its own knowhow in a relatively short time, but even when production volumes have been growing rapidly there are questions to be answered,” according to Pro Arándanos president Miguel Bentin. There are currently an estimated 2,400 ha planted, plus an additional 800 under way, which means 20,000 t are expected for the 2016 campaign. And by 2018, there will be double the area under cultivation, reaching at least 45,000 t of produce. While the Biloxi variety predominates, there is significant growth in Emerald, Spring High, Ventura and Snowchaser, among others.“We took the initiative to foster the creation of the association when the industry was very young, seeking to grow in an orderly way and generate genuine collaboration between the companies so there would be a transfer of knowledge. The main need is for an association to represent us in accessing markets and distributing the supply,” Bentín said. The main export market is the US, which takes up 54% of the total, followed by Holland, the UK and Hong Kong, with 83% of the volume shipped by sea. The Latin American countries complement each other, with each having its own place in the market, which is why it is very important to open up new markets, Bentín said.

Mexico grows along with its expertise

Mexico is a relatively young player which did not see the blueberry as a real option until seven years ago. It went through a learning process until it found varieties suited to its climate and learned to handle these cultivars, particularly in the area of pruning and bringing them to market. About three years ago, when the sector realised there was potential, various opportunities opened up for it. Today, Mexico has 4,500 ha planted, producing 15 million kg of fruit, and Driscoll’s vice president Mario Steta estimates this area could be doubled in five years. Undoubtedly, the profitability has been quite reasonable, although the average yield is not where it should be. Also, Mexico is creating a very wide season, achieving a total of 9 months’ supply by starting very early for the autumn window and ending very late in mid-spring. Among its strengths are that it supplies all four of the main berries, which gives it an advantage over other suppliers. And processing technology is bringing particularly strong benefits for one of those berries, the blueberry, and with that very good returns. As for the challenges, the main one is farm labour, which also links to the concept of social responsibility and the availability of suitable areas. Steta stressed that “genetic improvement in varieties must not only adapt to the environment and technology, but make it easier for workers in the field, a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce.”

Uruguayan blueberries ready to enter China

Uruguay has a very compact area in its north with few companies, but they’ve been adapting to the market’s needs in varieties and are now internationally recognised. “This year we expect 2,500 t of produce compared to last year’s 1,800 t. We think this will be a good season, despite the slow demand we seem to have now in our traditional markets, such as the US and Europe,” said Marta Bentancur, Upefruy’s head of international development. Uruguayan blueberries already reach the US and Canada, and major countries in Europe, but the big news is that very soon they may also enter China. “Recently we were visited by the Chinese sanitary delegation and they were fully satisfacted with our processes, quality and infraestructure,” Bentancur said. Uruguay will host the China-LAC CCPIT Business Summit 2017, the main summit between China, Latina America and the Caribbean. “There is a big public-private effort working on access to Asian markets. This year, in addition to China, we want to reach other countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and India,” Bentancur said.

Chile in a leading position

“We have plenty of challenges, but also opportunities,” said Chilean Blueberry Committee executive director Andrés Armstrong. Chile, experienced in blueberry production and export, confronts new blueberry-producing countries from a position of leadership as it already has a sufficient production volume and base to trade and develop markets around the world. “Chile has a strong position as a global supplier of blueberries,” Armstrong said. It currently has more than 15,600 ha in production and its fresh blueberry exports are expected to exceed 94,000 t this season. Chile is present in China and Korea, markets which have helped boost exports to Asia overall, the continent which last year accounted for 9% of its total export volume. In the medium and long term it will be more important to address the production capacity, since there are many developing markets with potential for growth,“ he said. The benefits of varietal conversion in Chile will be more obvious next year, when production is forecast to rise about 10%. Labour and productivity costs are the main challenges, since their availability and competition with other crops hamper future growth. “As of this season, there is a high penetration of new packaging technology in Chilean industry. Who knows how this will progress in future and if at some point we will be able to mechanically harvest the blueberries for the fresh market,” Armstrong said. “We are always examining how we do things, from the field to the end consumer, as part of our ongoing effort to do things better.”

Argentina seeks to differentiate itself by taste

Argentina is a significant supplier of blueberries in the off-season for the Northern Hemisphere. Its production regions grow early or ‘first’ fruit with marketable volumes from September. The three major production areas are the northeast, which contributes 52% of the total volume; the northwest, with 40%, and the centre, with 8%. There is a total of 2,750 ha of produce equivalent to 17,500 t of fruit for 2016. “The Argentine blueberry stands out in the world market for its excellence in quality and especially for its exceptional flavour. This is mainly due to our climate and varieties, since we have undergone a significant change in varieties of nearly 85% of the total area planted. In addition, 95% of exports are sent by air to reach the destination country immediately, thus prolonging the fruit’s shelf life,” said Argentinean Blueberry Committee (ABC) president Carlos Stabile. The ABC is focusing its promotional activity on the fruit’s flavour and also looking to differentiate on origin. The US remains the largest market, with sustained growth but at a mature rate, followed by the UK, which is characteristic for selling by variety. Other markets include Europe, Canada and Asia, with 80% of produce that is sent to the latter continent going to Singapore, Hong Kong and the UAE, and permission to export to China imminent. 

Blueberries image by Jeremy Ricketts via Unsplash under CC0 License

This article appeared in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that edition online here.
Read more berry news

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Mexico set for 4% rise in avocado exports

Mexico’s Hass avocado production is forecast to rise to 1.8 million tons and its exports to total over 1.0 million tons in 2016/17.

Traders anticipate Mexico’s avocado exports in the 2016/17 marketing year will rise about 4% on the previous year to over 1 million tons.

This is attributed to expectations of continuing good international demand for Mexican Hass avocados and the fact the depreciation of the peso against the dollar is helping international sales in general.

The US is Mexico’s top export market, consuming 77-79% of its all its avocado exports. Japan and Canada are strategic market niches for Mexico, taking about a 9% and 6% share respectively.

According to a USDA Gain report, market intelligence suggests Mexico is set to produce 1.8 million tons of Hass avocados in the 2016/17 marketing year (July/June). With official estimates placing the 2015/16 production at 1.64 million tons, that would represent an increase of about 9.7%. The 2014/15 volume was estimated at 1.52 million tons.

The planted for avocados in Mexico for 2016/17 is forecast at 203,732 ha, an 8.7% increase over 2015/16 area planted.

Most states grow Hass but other avocado varieties planted in Mexico, at smaller scales, are Fuerte, Criollo, Bacon, Pinkerton, Gwen and Reed.

Michoacán is Mexico’s leader in avocado production, accounting for 80% of total Mexican avocado production.

“The Mexican Avocado Association of Producers and Export Packers (APEAM – Asociación de Productores y Empacadores Exportadores de Aguacate de México) has started working with producers in Michoacán to invest in technological improvements to ensure that avocados are free of pests and chemical or biological residues.

“This investment continues to improve the quality of the fruit,” the report says.

Source: Mexico Avocado Annual, GAIN Report MX6040, December 1, 2016


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More berries & new varieties from Mexico

Sofresco is a Mexican family business which has specialised in the production and marketing of berries for the last 12 years.

Sofresco supplies blackberries and blueberries grown in the Mexican regions of Michoacan and Jalisco and mainly shipped to the US, Canada, continental Europe, the UK and Asia.

It is a Mexican family business which has specialised in the production and marketing of berries for the last 12 years.

Sofresco CEO Gerardo López said late rainfall this season saw the loss of some volume but was offset by prices.

The firm’s most ambitious objective is to reach a total of 500 ha of blueberries over a six-year period. It  currently has 80 ha, is developing another 40 ha for 2016 – which produced 200,000 kg of the fruit and which it expects to double next season – and a 4.5 million kg volume of blackberries, which is expected to increase by 10%.

Although it works with supermarkets, retail distributors and small wholesalers, López said Sofresco is trying to build more direct business with supermarkets, while at the same time it aims to expand in the Middle East.

Sofresco’s added value has to do with the fact that “we are vertically integrated; we work on the farming-to-distribution side, avoiding intermediaries, which add considerable cost and little value to the operation. So, we can be very attractive in terms of costs,” he said.

The most immediate investments will be focused on agricultural development, of new raspberry and blueberry varieties, and once the desired volumes are reached, investments in new warehouses and packing plants will begin.


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Mexico, undisputed leader in avocado

“Our mission is to conquer international markets for Mexican avocado, maintaining sustainable development of our fruit through unity, equity and teamwork of all the producers and packer-exporters in the country"

Mexico is the only place where this fruit is available all year round.

The Mexican Association of Producers and Exporting Packers, APEAM, A.C., was founded in 1997 with the task of organising the production and packing sectors to further the exports of a world-class product, namely Mexican avocado.

The Association currently comprises more than 19,000 producers and 46 packing businesses exporting to the USA. Thanks to APEAM, A.C., international markets can have direct access to this delicious product, safe in the knowledge that they are acquiring fresh, delicious and nutritive fruit, which is also safe, in line with the most stringent export standards.

José Armando Lopez Orduña, CEO of AEPAM, A.C. explains. “Our mission is to conquer international markets for Mexican avocado, maintaining sustainable development of our fruit through unity, equity and teamwork of all the producers and packer-exporters in the country. We apply best practices in the cultivation, harvesting, manufacturing and transportation of this value chain, while engaging in ongoing scientific research on issues of productivity, health and safety.”

Avocado has tremendous value in the lives of Mexicans, especially for Michoacan, the main producing area of the country and worldwide. In total there are 160,000 ha in cultivation, of which 111,000 are certified for shipping to the US.

US the main market

The US is where the Mexican avocado industry, through its own marketing company based in Dallas, Texas (Avocados from Mexico, Inc.), draws up all its marketing, promotion and advertising strategies for Mexican avocado, designed to develop and boost consumption of the Hass category avocado. AFM, Inc. is the strategic merger between MHAIA (Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association) and APEAM, A.C. It was set up to engage in promotion, advertising, public relations and research for all parties interested in Mexican avocado.

According to AFM CEOs Alvaro Luque and Michael Browne, “The Avocados from Mexico marketing team has been working tirelessly to build up a sustainable demand throughout the US.” The news from USDA on expansion and acceptance of new producer regions ensures supplies of fresh avocados from several Mexican states, which will help build up future stocks and raise the category of Hass avocado. So, Mexican avocados continue to conquer the palate of consumers worldwide.

This article appeared in edition 145 (Sep-Oct 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more in that issue here.

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Bananas de Mexico, now a brand and quality seal

bananas de Mexico

“Bananas de Mexico” is the new country brand launched in 2014 to promote fresh produce of Mexican origin.

Among the emblematic companies taking part in the “Bananas de Mexico” is the Cabal Group. Today the firm has 2600 hectares in production in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Colima, Mexico, equivalent to a weekly export volume of 100-140 container loads.

Carlos Cabal elucidates: “As a producer-exporter, we have always exported under the San Carlos brand, but in view of the customers we have and the European perception of Mexican origins we decided, with the backing of the Association, the Union and other producers, to create the “Bananas de Mexico” brand to promote the source.”

The main strategy to publicise the brand consisted of being present in Europe, through its trading office in Monaco, close to customers, offering them personalised treatment and post-sales service that ensures the highest quality standards. At the same time, it has a channel open with Mexico where the company has a production and quality office managing its own fruit as well as produce from associated farmers.

More focused on Europe

“As a company, we believe in exports and we believe in Europe, and we know that is a 52-week business. We are more focused on contracts than on spot sales,” Cabal said. The most significant market is the United Kingdom, followed by the Netherlands and other European countries, where their customers are supermarkets and they work hand-in-hand with the service provider.

The goal for 2016 is to lay the foundations for a more aggressive approach in 2017, exporting a shipload every week, placing fruit strategically to capture clients in different locations.

Images courtesy of

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Mexico maintains level of tomato exports to US

The Roma variety now represents more than 62% of total Mexican tomato production as demand for this type of tomato has surpassed the round tomato.

Mexican tomato exports – predominantly to the United States – are forecast to remain relatively stable at about 1.5 million tons million tons for the 2016/17 marketing year.

A USDA GAIN report also says, assuming favorable weather and attractive international prices continue, Mexico’s overall tomato production for 2016/17 (Oct-Sept) is likely to be 2.9 million tons, compared to a similar amount the previous year and 2.7 million tons in 2014/15.

The country’s total exports for the current marketing year are expected to also come in at about 1.5 million tons, about the same as 2014/15’s 1.53 million tons. The final export estimate for 2015/16, however, will depend on the summer season demand.

Demand has continued to be strong in the United States, the most important market for Mexican tomatoes. Tomatoes are shipped directly from the producing area to the US border.

In the October-May winter season, Sinaloa growers are the main producers and exporters of fresh tomatoes. Other Mexican states, such as Jalisco, Queretaro, and San Luis Potosi, also export during the winter window, crossing the border through Texas. Over the summer season (May-Oct), Baja California growers are the main producers and exporters of fresh tomatoes and a source of direct competition for tomatoes from California in the US.

Export prices

Mexico’s tomato exports tend to increase from June to August, resulting in higher prices, as this is the international market window for tomatoes from Baja California. By the end of November and December, domestic tomato prices usually rise again, due to the increased export volume from Jalisco and Sinaloa.

The report says Mexican exporters say prices have generally been good this season. “International vine ripened prices in February 2016 were about USD $28.00/25 lb box, while in March prices decreased to about USD $16.00/25 lb box. By May, prices decreased to about USD $13.00/ 25 lb box.”

Under the 2013 tomato suspension agreement between Mexican growers and the US Department of Commerce, different floor prices for Mexican fresh tomatoes are set during the summer and winter and prices also specified for open field/adapted-environment and controlled-environment production. More than 600 Mexican growers and exporters signed the agreement and all fresh or chilled tomatoes from Mexico are covered by these price floors.

Changes in planted area

Mexico’s tomato planted area for fresh consumption for 2016/17 is forecast at 49,200 ha, up slightly on 2015/16’s estimated 48,000 ha, which would also be a slight increase on 2014/15’s 47,530 ha.

The report says that the area planted “is influenced by the behavior of the U.S. market, as growers try to plant only what the US market will absorb besides supplying the domestic market.”

The Roma variety now represents more than 62% of total Mexican tomato production as demand for this type of tomato has surpassed the round tomato.

Ongoing expansion of greenhouse tomato production

Mexican producers continue to move from open field production to protected agriculture technologies (greenhouse, shade-house, and tunnel), resulting in higher yields. The move away from open field tomato production is attributable to pest problems, high costs of production, swings in both international prices and exchange rates, and limited water availability, the report says.

It also says that according to Mexican sources, the country’s total area of tomatoes in protected agriculture is now about 15,000 ha, 16 up from about 14,000 ha in 2013/14. “This increase is largely attributable to success in exporting high quality tomatoes to the United States.”

The main horticultural products grown under protected agriculture technology in Mexico are tomato (70%), bell pepper (16%), cucumber (10%), as well as products such a flowers, chili peppers, berries, and papaya.

The majority of protected agriculture uses drip irrigation systems, insect/anti-aphid protection, and systems to control light and air. Warmer areas like Sinaloa have a higher percentage of shade houses compared to greenhouse technology.


Yields vary depending on production conditions and inputs. Average yields have grown from 23 tons/ha in 1990 to 28 tons/ha in 2000 and reached 56 tons/ha (combined average for open field and protected agriculture) in 2015/16. However, this year’s yields could be lower due to the rainy weather conditions during the winter season.

Baja California and Sinaloa growers generally achieve the highest fresh tomato yields for open field production, 50 tons/ha or more, due in part to their pest and disease control programs. Greenhouse/shade-house yields tend to vary significantly among producers, variety, and state. These yields generally range from 150 tons/ha to 200 tons/ha depending on the technology used. For example, Sinaloa can grow Roma tomatoes (saladette) in open field with yields of about 37 tons/ha, while it can grow them under protected agriculture with yields ranging from 87-128 tons/ha, the report says.

Source: Gain report MX6021: Mexico, Tomato Annual Report, ‘Mexico Continues to Expand Greenhouse Tomato Production’
Roma tomato image: by Goldlocki [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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GLOBALGAP TOUR: 29 June in Guadalajara

The GLOBALGAP TOUR conference and exhibition will bring Mexican and American fresh produce sector leaders together in the city of Guadalajara on 29 June 2016

The GLOBALG.A.P. TOUR conference and exhibition will bring Mexican and American fresh produce sector leaders together in the city of Guadalajara on 29 June 2016. The event is expected to attract over 300 sector professionals, including certified growers, growers working towards certification, buyers, exporters, government representatives, industry service providers and other certification bodies.

The venue is the Hilton Hotel in Guadalajara. The programme includes presentations by international experts who will talk about the latest trends in certification and the market opportunities they present. The exhibition will give those attending the chance to explore the latest advances in technology, certification and other supply chain services.

Grupo Rosmar is GLOBALG.A.P.’s local partner in Mexico

The firm focuses on providing solutions for preparing healthy and sustainable foods. It has a team of qualified advisers and constantly innovates with the aim of providing solutions for this sector. For this reason, in October 2015 Grupo Rosmar became GLOBALG.A.P’s local partner for Mexico, through which the GLOBALG.A.P Farm Assurer methodology for developing the procedures for successful implementation of this standard in Mexico was prepared.

The relationship facilitates direct communication with the GLOBALG.A.P management and technical teams. This has made it possible to build capabilities in the agrifood industry through training and qualification, as it is the Farm Assurer Manager in Mexico, in charge of developing licensed professionals. For instance, workshops are conducted by GLOBALG.A.P Licensed Farm Assurers with lengthy experience in certification, consultancy and implementation of the agrifood sector scheme that is best known and accepted worldwide.