In Mexico, which has a population of more than 100 million, the conventional food sector is becoming more and more important all the time. This is because the eating habits of the Mexican people have changed. It is a fact that the pattern of the food of the average Mexican becomes more and more the same as that of the average Western world citizen.
In Mexico, there is a definite preference for convenience food, which is mainly eaten away from home. Ready-to-eat meals, pizza's, hamburgers, fresh juices, traditional tortilla like snacks, it all fits into the busy life of the Mexican. Obviously the development is mainly in the big cities. But still the assortment of convenience food in the Mexican supermarket is slightly different from other countries. Maize and tortilla products are plentifully and also traditional Mexican products, such as beans, chili peppers and tacos and enchilada's are of course much used ingredients in ready-to-eat meals.
Ready-to-eat meals are mainly sold in supermarkets. The so-called convenience shops mainly have pizza and ready-to-eat-salads in their assortment. Market stalls and booths are also spots where the Mexican consumer buys his food. Tortilla's, fruit salads, juices and 'torta's' (small rolls) are very popular. Fresh products, such as carrots, cucumbers and jicama (Mexican potato) are sold a lot via market stalls and are available all year round. The same for the popular fruit varieties, including papaya, mango and watermelon. There is also a lot of demand for fresh juices in Mexico, to which spices and herbs are added on occasion in order to increase the value to health.
The Mexican consumer still has a strong preference for fresh products. The share of deep-freeze is rather limited in the supermarkets compared to other countries. The average Mexican prefers to visit the local supermarket. Deep-freeze products are, as a rule, more expensive than fresh products. And as Mexico produce a wide variety of fruit and vegetables the necessity for deep-freeze is not very pressing. Nevertheless the consumption of deep-freeze meals increased between 2007 and 2012. Also, in some cases buying deep-freeze products is an easy way to store food for longer.
Companies interested in exporting their products to Mexico will have to be aware of a number of things. Mexico has strict market entrance restrictions. Not all products (fresh or processed) are allowed to be imported. In principle there is a free trade agreement between Mexico and Europe, but there are high import levies on food products. Also Mexico has trade agreements with other countries, which against a lower import levy can export their products to Mexico. This for instance applies to cheese.
Another condition is the supply of extensive Spanish language information on labels and packings. In the US and Europe hallmarks and country of origin are normally respected. In Mexico it sometimes happens that false hallmark products are in circulation. There is not much which can be done about this, as the cost of legal aid is high and enforcing it is difficult. It is important to recognize this as a political risk from the start.
The Mexican market is mixed, culturally. This means that the consumer is willing to try new tastes and products. A perfect way to taste this is to join the grill events, which are held by both the restaurants and the tourist sector. Here one meets experts, who know the market very well. Existing markets include Expo Antad, Alimentaria México, Expo Gourmet, and Abastur.
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. It is also important to mention, that the big retailers, such as Wal-Mart have their own import department. With experience one learns that this works smoothly and is more reliable.
The food service sector (hotels, restaurants. Caterers, institutes, unions and schools) in Mexico is not really different from that in other countries. It is expected that the sector will grow further and will diversify at the same time. The government policy is more and more directed towards foreign trade and investments in this are high. This is the cause of a broader variety of products from other countries entering Mexico. It is important to know that the Mexican consumer is interested in new 'eat' experiences. In the big cities mainly the supermarkets, nature shops and gourmet-like businesses are doing well. And also luxury coffee and other gourmet retail businesses are doing well with the consumer.
The Mexican restaurant sector is represented by an organisation by the name of CANIRAC. Officially there are 428,000 restaurants, fast food chains and snack bars involved. The sector is the second largest employer in Mexico and grew by 3.7% in 2011. Of all restaurant employees 59% are family members, 55% of all restaurants employ less than 5 people, 44% more than 5. According to Euromonitors 'Consumer Foodservice Mexico,' franchises have a share of 4% and represent 19% of the value in the sector. Most franchisees in Mexico are part of fast food chains, such as Subway, Burger King and Domino's Pizza. But also local companies like Sushi-Itto, Pollo Pepe and el Tizoconcito have franchises. A large part of these restaurants have fast food on the menu, a number are full service and deliver at home as well. This market is growing, the consumer obviously needs this.
Mexico has a number of 'diners' and chains of restaurants, some being part of big retailers, such as Wal-Mart (Vip's, El Porton), Sanborns (Sanborns restaurant and coffee shops) and Commercial Mexicana (Restaurantes California). These full service restaurants offer a good price quality ratio and are often located in shopping areas. And then there's the small restaurants, which often are not officially registered. They serve home made food at low prices, mainly traditional Mexican dishes.
Source: Berichten Buitenland
Publication date: 5/10/2013