Organic produce trade increasing between the U.S. and Mexico

From The Packer | 22 June 2024

Overview of organic fruits from Mexico in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on June 18, 2024.

Two-way trade between the U.S. and Mexico in organic produce is booming, a new report from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service says.

The top five organic exports from the U.S. to Mexico in 2023 were apples, pears, grapes, spinach, and lettuce, while Mexico’s top five organic exports to the U.S. that year were avocados, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and tomatoes.

all commodities volumes 2

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Mexico prioritizes selling its organic products to the U.S. and Canadian markets due to closer proximity and efficient transportation channels, despite having numerous free trade agreements with other countries, the report said.

Mexico’s National Organic Operation Control Board has organic classifications for production of fruits and vegetables, animal production, harvesting or collection of products from their natural habitats, and food processing, the report said. 

In 2023, organic-certified area totaled 1.4 million acres, of which about 40% represented crop production area.

Between 2022 and 2023, Mexico’s organic production area increased for oranges (from 42,000 acres to nearly 52,000 acres, mangoes (from 334,6012 acres to 40,787 acres), and lemons (from 12,523 acres to 15,483 acres).

Mexico had 46,030 certified organic plant producers in 2023, a 4% decrease from 2022;  91% of those producers were coffee producers, the report said.

Twenty USDA-accredited organic certifiers operate in Mexico, and there are more than 2,600 USDA-certified organic operations in Mexico. Products are required to be USDA-certified to be exported to the U.S.

Mexico tends to supply the U.S. organic market during the off-season for U.S. production. In the case of strawberries, production in central Mexico is for local markets and most of it is conventional, while the area planted in Baja California is 95% organic and directed to the U.S. market with a price differential of 25%, the report said.

Rising demand

Suppliers of organic produce may find increasing demand from Mexico buyers in future years.

“The Mexican organic market is at an early stage and has room to develop,” the report said. “Organic products are increasingly popular, and benefit from the support of the current Mexican federal administration, which promotes organics as environmentally friendly.”

Still, because of the relatively high cost of organic products compared to conventional products, and increasing poverty in Mexico, the market is limited to only a small portion of the population with higher purchasing power, the report said.

In-person shopping experiences remain the preferred option among Mexican consumers, according to the report.

“At least 85% of Mexican consumers — irrespective of gender, purchasing power, and generation — make purchases at convenience stores or supermarkets at least once every two weeks,” the report said. “Organic sections are common in supermarkets throughout Mexico, while the preferred stores for premium (including organic) products include Walmart, H-E-B, La Comer, Costco, and SAM’s Club.”

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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