Mexican fruit and vegetable exports are soaring to record levels to meet demand from American and Canadian receivers. As the top supplier of fresh produce to the United States and the second largest source for Canada, we take a look at how and why this flow of shipments continues to climb as millions of tons stream across the border each year.
Deconstructing Supply and Demand
While the United States and Canada source a significant amount of Mexican fruit and vegetables to fill seasonal gaps, this is not the sole reason behind the ongoing surge in imports. Several other factors are driving this upward trend, from favorable exchange rates and improved packaging to faster shipping and growing demand for Hispanic cuisine among American and Canadian consumers.
Bumps in trade between the United States and Mexico are often tied to the peso-to-dollar exchange rate. After rising for several months, the peso fell sharply in mid-April, losing more than 5 percent against the dollar, then began climbing again. When the dollar is strong and Mexican produce imports are less expensive, U.S. suppliers always want to take advantage of these favorable economic conditions.
Two other factors, the growth of the Hispanic population in the United States and Canada, and the surge of interest in Hispanic cuisine, are also propelling demand for imports. As more consumers enjoy the extensive flavors found in Hispanic cuisine, they seek out the fruits, vegetables, and spices used to create these dishes.
This coincides with growing interest from “foodies” as well, who enjoy exploring new cuisines and ethnic dining experiences. Hispanic staples like salsa, tortillas, tacos, hot peppers, beans, and of course, avocados, continue to gain popularity across the board.
In 2017, more than 233 million Americans purchased Mexican food and ingredients to create their own meals, according to a Simmons National Consumer Survey. Further, for those who wanted to dine out, there were nearly 60,000 Mexican restaurants across the United States as of last year. Both were good news for wholesalers and importers.
Mounting demand is also attributed to the growing Hispanic population in the United States and Canada. Hispanics continue to represent the largest minority in the United States, and the only country with a larger Hispanic population is Mexico.
According to U.S. Census estimates, there are currently 55 million Hispanics residing in the United States, accounting for more than 17 percent of the American population. The Bureau forecasts this number will rise to 119 million Hispanics living in U.S. states by 2060. Hispanics are also one of the faster growing ethnic groups in Canada, with an estimated 1 million Latin Americans living in the nation.