Mexico will remain a growing market destination for Italian food and beverage products this year after a solid performance in 2018. The second-largest trading partner in Latin America for the EU after Brazil is recording increased demand for authentic food and wine from Italy. Certified pizzerias and authentic restaurants are opening in major cities, while grocery retailers add cured meats, cheese, and gelatos to their offer.
Italy’s the world’s third-largest food and beverage exporter to Mexico behind the United States and Spain. Exports in 2018 totaled 67.6 billion euros, a 5.5% increase from the previous year, according to data provided by the government-backed Italian Trade Agency (ICE) Mexico. “Exports of Italian food and beverage to Mexico have grown constantly by 3-7% every year on average,” ICE (Italian Trade Agency) Mexico director Giuseppe Manenti told Italianfood.net. Mexico’s most imported Italian products are wine, pasta, olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and Grana Padano PDO, coffee, filled chocolate sweets, and mineral waters, according to the data elaborated by ICE Mexico.
POSITIVE TREND FOR CURED MEATS IN MEXICO
The fastest-growing category is sparkling wines (up 12.9% in 2018 year on year), driven by the rising popularity of Prosecco and Lambrusco. Italy is the fourth-largest wine exporter to Mexico behind Spain, France and Chile, with a market share of 16.3%. Exports of Italian wine to Mexico increased 7.07% in 2018 to 44 million dollars. However, wine prices remain low compared with major competitors, at around 2.81-2.90 euros per liter. That compares with an average price of French wines of 11.9 euros per liter.
The mixed scenario shows growth opportunities for Italian producers of fine wine as the foodservice sector shows signs of expansion. Adding to momentum for Italian food in Mexico, exports of cured meats boomed 24.5% in 2018, thanks to products like mortadella, cooked ham, and the eternal favorite Prosciutto di Parma PDO and San Daniele PDO. Protection from counterfeit products remains a priority, however. Dairy is also performing well (2018 exports up 5.2%), boosted by the presence of Italian brands that start to see Mexico as a growing destination.
Tomato sauces are also on the rise (up 31.6%), helped by the opening of pizzerias directly managed by Italian businesses. Local demand for Italian sweets is also growing, with imports of chocolate pralines rising 290%, cookies growing 31.2%, and gelato climbing 120%.
A MIXED 2019 OUTLOOK OFFERS OPPORTUNITIES
For 2019, the public spending cuts introduced by leftist president Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador could dampen public consumption, local newspapers reported. However, Mexico will remain a solid export market for Italian products, the director added. Mexico’s economy, the second-largest in Latin America, is expected to expand by 1.6% in 2019 after rising 2% in 2018, according to Fitch, which cited factors including falling government spending under the new government, which took office in December 2018.
In addition to restaurant and pizzerias, the grocery retail scene is also an opportunity for Italian producers. Grocery sales account for two-thirds of the total annual retail industry sales in Mexico, according to Euromonitor International. A mix of local and US food retailers operate in the country. These include City Market, Grupo Chedraui, Costco and Walmart (which in Mexico also operates Sam’s Club, Superama, and Bodega Aurrera’).