While the majority of Mexico’s agri-food imports from Alberta have traditionally been bulk commodities, like oilseeds and grains, new opportunities are emerging for food and beverages.
Mexican consumers are increasingly looking for high quality food products in health, wellness and specialty retail products. To connect these opportunities with Alberta suppliers, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) led a trade mission to the Canadian Supplier Day, October 29 to 30, 2019, in Monterrey, Mexico. Focused on value-added products, this event was the first of its kind in Monterrey, modelled on the ‘Taste of Canada’ event that has taken place annually in the United States.
Three Alberta companies – Oh! Naturals, Sweetsmith Candy Co. and Token Bitters – participated in this event. They already export internationally, and they were able to gather firsthand market information, to build connections and to meet Mexican buyers as well as to profile their products and discuss sales.
A robust business-to-business meeting program, where over 30 meetings took place between Mexican importers and Alberta companies, anchored the Canadian Supplier Day. While initial sales for Alberta participants were estimated at $CAD 50,000, additional negotiations with large players in the Mexican market are currently underway for larger volumes and additional sales.
The program also included an educational component with market briefings, presentations on logistics and Mexican labelling requirements, as well as tours at Mexico’s largest grocery and convenience stores for market research and analysis.
For the Alberta participants, this mission helped build their understanding and connections in the Mexican market.
“We recognize the amount of work that goes into the planning and execution of such initiatives, especially in a country where businesses are conducted in a different way, and the nature of the market imposes extra hurdles and barriers,” notes Mario Castillo, research scientist at Token Bitters. “This initiative helps us to mitigate risks and to overcome those barriers."
In addition to this project, the International Market Development team at AF works strategically in international markets to assist Alberta companies in their export goals. Each market has specific opportunities and challenges, which staff assess to determine how to support Alberta companies increase sales in international markets.
“Business culture in Mexico is relationship-based, so it’s important that Alberta companies go to the market, to meet importers in person,” says Meghan Horosko, trade and relations officer with AF and who led Alberta’s participation in this event. “The Canadian Supplier Day was a great event for introducing companies to major buyers in the Mexican market, as well as profiling Albertan and Canadian capacities for value-added products. I’m sure we’ll hear about even more success stories as a result of this event.”
With lead coordination by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service based in the Consulate of Canada in Monterrey, the Canadian Supplier Day was a partnered initiative with support from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Export Development Canada, Canada Beef, and the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
AF will support Alberta companies attending The Mexican Healthy Products Summit in January 2020, as well as an anticipated Taste of Canada tabletop event in Mexico City later in 2020.
Mexico is Alberta’s fourth largest export market for agri-food products. In 2018, Alberta’s agri-food exports to Mexico reached $CAD 551.8 million, accounting for approximately 46% of Alberta’s total exports to Mexico.
For more information about this trade mission, connect with Meghan Horosko: