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2013 / 2014

Spreading the word Mexico is working hard to build a global reputation to match the quality and diversity of its fruit and vegetable output OVERVIEW NORTH AMERICA EUROPE ASIA

TRADE MEXICO 2013 / 2014

Streets ahead of the rest ew York, London, Tokyo. The global economic crisis has impacted them all. Their culinary response? Street food revolutions. The rituals of fine dining replaced by gourmet burgers on the hoof – it makes economic sense in a recession. The chilangos of Mexico City have understood the value of comida de la calle for a lot longer. All Mexicans have. You’ll see taquerias and food stalls on the corners of every town. What you’ll also find is street fruit: floral papaya, buttery Ataulfo mangoes, bubblegummy prickly pears. And a hundred other product lines, always local and always with a splash of lime. Coming from the rest of North America, Europe or Asia you know you can’t replicate the supply chain that makes it cost-effective to sell Mexican fresh produce from the street, but you can get an idea about the quality and consumer appeal of Mexico’s fruit and vegetables. If you can’t get to a street corner in Mexico anytime soon, well, trade mexico has been there for you. And this supplement is where we tell you exactly what we found. We caught up with the berry producers of Jalisco, garlic growers from north-central states and the lime specialists in steamy Veracruz – and still we only skimmed the surface of a splendid product range. Believe us, the supply is there – it’s increasingly consistent as well – and, given the quality and certification, you can be pretty sure the demand will be too. With a little thought to the logistics of introducing them to each other – this is what government, exporters and overseas importers are now all working on – the relationship between Mexican fresh produce and international consumers will be a long and happy one. Welcome to the revolution. _


The supply is there and, given the quality and certification, you can be pretty sure the demand will be too

Tobias Gourlay Editor



Shipping out around the world


Safety-first strategy pays dividends


Sharing a wealth of natural resources 6-7 Building the complete package


Beating the competition black and blue 10 Spurred on to diversify


Experience makes the difference


Time to get serious


Safari the next step


San Gabriel boosts European business


Flying high


Coliman celebrates 50 years


AGF steps up to export challenge


Tobias Gourlay +44 20 7501 3700 supplement

Advertising Rodrigo Magdaleno  +44 20 7501 3718 supplement

Design Simon Spreckley  +44 20 7501 3713 design Ligia Durán Murphy  +44 20 7501 3715 senior graphic Craig Bowyer  +44 20 7501 0317 middleweight Cat Barylak  +44 20 7501 3721 junior creative

trade mexico 2013/2014



Shipping out around the world mexico city—Japan and other Asian countries are likely to be markets of high sales growth for Mexico over the coming seasons, says México Calidad Suprema’s Juan Laborín. by Steven Maxwell


he huge potential of Asia for Mexican fresh produce exports could be realised over the coming seasons, with export organisation México Calidad Suprema pushing for greater access

following a strong 12 months in Japan. Headed by avocados, Mexico’s exports to eight Asian countries increased by a combined 11 per cent during 2012 compared with the previous year, with Japan a particular growth centre. The country achieved record exports to the East Asian nation in ten categories, including avocados, beer and pork prod-

hoping to repeat achievements already made in China,

ucts, with total sales up by 11.8 per cent year on year to

Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan.

approximately US$91.5m.


Mexico’s progress in Japan follows an impressive 12

México Calidad Suprema’s president, Juan Laborín,

months for the country in several major export mar-

says Japan is being viewed as a “high potential” market

kets, with sales rising in South America (32 per cent),

that could also act as a “launching point” for Mexican

Europe (3.8 per cent) and Russia (9.2 per cent), although

products that have already achieved success in other

exports to Canada dropped by 18.5 per cent. Despite the

Asian countries. He reveals that the organisation is

success stories, Laborín admits challenges remain before

trade mexico 2013/2014


Over the past year México Calidad Suprema has given commercial training to 800 producers in 20 cities According to Laborín, agricultural production in Mexico is continuing to rise, with output up by 22.1 per cent (or 3.1m tonnes) during April 2013 compared with the same month a year before. Aside from grain crops, one of the biggest recorded increases was ABOVE—Mexico is ready to capitalise on a strong 12 months in the Japanese market

in potato production, with the 2012

LEFT—Juan Laborín is aiming for governmental and societal joint thinking

harvest up on 2011 by 166 per cent (or 116,000 tonnes).

further progress can be achieved,

producers, while also increasing the

In seasonal crops, total produc-

highlighting the needs to increase

productivity and competitiveness of

tion climbed 26.4 per cent, with a

food production in order to guar-

our products.”

notable rise in orange production, which jumped 131.5 per cent on 2011.

antee food security and to improve

Laborín says México Calidad

the added value of Mexican pro-

Suprema, which is co-funded by the

As an organisation, México Cali-

duction in order to better compete

country’s fresh produce sector and

dad Suprema is undergoing restruc-


the government, has made consider-

turing during 2013, with the aim of

He believes Mexico can only con-

able progress supporting producers

offering associated producer mem-

solidate its position as an export force

to increase productivity and improve

bers a “more complete” certifica-

for agro-food products if it adapts to

the competitiveness of their products

tion system to meet global supplier

new consumption trends and pro-

through training.


duction forecasts, while taking into

Over the past year, he says the

A total of 720 associated producers

account climate change and improv-

group has carried out commercial

are now certified under Mexicogap

ing logistics to access new markets.

training for 800 producers in 20 cities,

and México Calidad Suprema’s own

“To do this, we must overcome

taking “full advantage” of the trade

certification, representing an increase

structural and short-term obstacles

negotiations Mexico has undertaken

of 28 per cent on 2011. _

by achieving institutional, govern-


mental and societal joint thinking, so

A further 650 producers have also

we are all able to focus our economic

been given training in carrying out

and human resources in a combined

proper planning, logistics and expor-

strategy to consolidate and open

tation, while 515 producers have been


shown how to reduce contamination

“Among other things, this will

risks and implement Good Agricul-

allow us to diversify exports and

tural Practices to achieve Mexicogap

strengthen the capabilities of our


trade mexico 2013/2014



REPORT —Safety Senasica has also put in place Contamination Risk Reduction Systems designed to offer healthy and high-quality foods at national and international levels. “Through an official prevention initiative, Contamination Risk Reduction Systems are being implemented from initial production through to the packing and transportation of fruits and vegetables from Mexico.” This initiative, Fragoso says, is focused on reducing the risk of contamination during fruit and vegetable production and covers 16 elements including company reg-

Safety-first strategy pays dividends mexico city—After high-profile salmonella cases in the US and Canada linked to Mexican mangoes, the national government is keen to demonstrate that progress has been made. by Steven Maxwell


he dangers of contami-




istration, their history, water use, ABOVE—

nated fruit and vegeta-

Health, Food Safety and Agricultur-

bles were highlighted in

al Food Quality – better known as

July 2012 when 105 people in the

Senasica – which says it has been

US and 80 in Canada were affected

working to improve safety stan-


reduce the danger of the microbi-

by a salmonella outbreak linked to

dards, from the largest growers to


ological, chemical or physical con-

contaminated mangoes that were

poor, rural farmers.

By safeguarding

tamination of food taking place.

traced back to a producer in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.



Although food safety issues are not the direct responsibility of

Senasica has been pushing through food safety

production, the agency can help the industry avoid

hygienic practices, traceability, fertilisation and damage to wildlife. “The initiative enables us to

Moreover, when a suspected contamination happens, an immedi-

A year on and, although the

Senasica, the agency’s Hugo Frago-

memory of the outbreak lingers,

so says it is working to protect

to identify the origin of the prod-

Mexico’s authorities say they have

Mexico from foreign pests and dis-

uct concerned and reduce the risk

been making progress in improv-

eases by safeguarding Mexican food

of further contamination.”

ing food safety standards across the

production and, through this, avoid-

country to try to make incidents

ing supply problems that could lead


of this kind a thing of the past.

to shortages of some of the most


These efforts are being led by the

important foodstuffs.

es remain a major problem for

trade mexico 2013/2014

supply problems

ate plan of action is put in action





Mexican growers. According to a report in regional daily Cambio de Michoacán, around half of the vegetable producers in Michoacán state have experienced major problems with pests, principally potato psyllid, which has caused significant losses to potato, tomato and chilli pepper crops. Some 14,612ha fall prey to the

Vegetable health committees in every state of the country offer producers technical support for controlling pests and diseases

greening, which has been detect-


citrus greening.




ed in 25 of the region’s 920 citrus orchards, equivalent to 2.7 per cent of the production area. To limit the spread of the disease, the organisation has been using chemical and biological pest controls to tackle the presence of Asian citrus psyllids, the insect which spreads

pest every year, with total losses

undertaken with vegetable health

Looking at the longer term,

estimated to reach more than

committees in every state in the

Fragoso says one of the biggest

US$24m a year in wages and

country, through which producers

challenges for Mexican growers is

lost sales. Separately, around 4,800ha

are offered technical support for

going to come from climate change,

of citrus groves are reported to have

controlling pests and diseases.

with frost and drought damage

been affected by citrus greening in

Fragoso points out that white-

becoming ever more frequent and

the southern state of Quintana Roo.

fly and potato psyllid, the most

happening unexpectedly in major

In response, Fragoso says Sena-

common pests for vegetable pro-

production zones.



ducers in Michoacán, do not fall

For this reason, he says the Mexi-

department (Sagarpa) have car-



under government regulation and

can authorities are putting in place

ried out phytosanitary campaigns

are therefore the responsibility of

support programmes to compensate

against pests that have an “eco-

the producer.

men and women working in the

nomic impact and limit national and international trade”.

He says Senasica is working in Quintana Roo to control citrus

countryside and to maintain levels of production. _

The difference is...

quality & experience

T: +52 (232) 324-0920, Libramiento Martinez-Tlapacoyan S/N. E: Col. Las Palmas. C.P. 93600. Martinez de la Torre, Ver. Mexico.

lime ad.indd 1

trade mexico 2013/2014 09/07/2013 09:40




Sharing a wealth of natural resources EXPORT VALUE (US$ ‘000)



CANADA Avocados 59,713 56,619

Berries 758 255

Tomatoes 51,201 207,586

Other lettuce 59 265

Coconuts 109 18

Garlic 346 226

Grapefruit 501 261

Limes 1,578 2,030

Onions 460 509

Papayas 95 387

Pineapples 3.30 7.44

Mangoes 25,666 23,511

Asparagus & broccoli 7,891 4,052

Avocados 763,212 772,606

Bananas 9,232 5,739

Berries 803,130 589,304

Mangoes 202,375 135,158

Asparagus & broccoli 292,016 312,877

Carrots 282,078 242,977

Limes 201,648 236,135

Papayas 63,813 46,123

Pineapples 23,821 17,134

Cucumbers Pumpkins & courgettes 1,203 384 551 437

Tomatoes 1,650,159 1,883,025

Onions 285,875 275,690

Watermelons Pumpkins & courgettes 27,015 258,987 30,293 258,673

Table grapes 156,052 136,513

Cucumbers 410,357 269,309

UNITED STATES mexico city—The US dominates Mexico’s export charts, of course, but the latest figures reveal a willingness to experiment – with new products and new markets. by Tobias Gourlay 06

trade mexico 2013/2014


Source: Aserca - Sagarpa


Garlic 3,763 3,060

Chicory & endive 0.00 237

Coconuts 6.38 2.01

Bananas 4.29 6.05

Tomatoes 86 0.25

Pineapples 4.83 16.80

Avocados 7,626 5,446

Grapefruit 5,821 8,316

Limes 63,945 13,308

Onions 3,584 4,027

Papayas 33 2.02

Berries 32,684 25,302

Mangoes 4,015 5,490

Asparagus & broccoli 688 1,598

Avocados 96,990 84,834

Berries 4,267 845

Cashew nuts 8,105 4,792

Papayas 0.09 1.17

Tomatoes 122 165

Garlic 0.00 1.35

Grapefruit 0.00 137

Lettuce 0.01 0.00

Limes 1,379 1,814

Mangoes 2,754 8,822

Pineapples 0.00 22

Table grapes 593 40

Carrots 129 355

Asparagus & broccoli 4,747 4,858

Pumpkins & courgettes 8,670 6,716

EAST ASIA trade mexico 2013/2014



Building the complete package guanajuato—Managing director Miguel Usabiaga answers questions about Mr Lucky’s quest to be a leader in the production, development and distribution of high-quality Mexican fresh produce. by Tobias Gourlay


exican-owned Mr Lucky grows

capacity of our processing plant –



for fresh produce and our fresh-

fresh-cut salads in central and

cut salads – by more than 100

northern Guanajuato. With a pro-

per cent. We have already begun

cessing plant in the south of the

installing sustainable equipment,

state and distribution centres in

such as solar panels, that allows

four big cities around the country,

us to reduce power consumption.



it sends produce to supermarkets across North America and beyond.

Any other upcoming plans and goals you want to talk about?

What has Mr Lucky been up to recently?

MU: We are about to install a production line that allows us to

Miguel Usabiaga: We’ve kept our

innovate in the packaging of our

commitment to introduce technol-

products, so that we can present

ogy across the production process

different products in different

and, by improving the collection,

ways. We will be strengthening the

treatment and care of water, we

development of new products and

now have 100 per cent drip irriga-

presentations according to market

tion technology in all our fields.

needs and customer needs.

Meanwhile, overall production






OPPOSITE—Promotional work focuses on

has increased 10 per cent in 2013.

work within Mexico is growing:

the quality of Mexican garlic

By 2015 we plan to have raised the

it currently reaches more than 50

trade mexico 2013/2014


How have your destination markets behaved this year? MU: They have been very erratic. It would seem that the consumer is thinking twice or more before making a decision. But there is still great potential in Asia and South America, and at home in Mexico. You’ve been making moves in the berry business too. What’s the news on that front? MU: Right now, berries is only a very small percentage of our business, but they are products with high growth rates around the world – I think berries is the only category achieving double-digit growth for supermarkets. So we believe that our brand should be present in this category. Anything else you want to add? MU: We are very proud of all of the certificates that help to bring our products to international markets, confirming the agriculture cities with more than 1,100 direct deliveries each week. trade mexico spoke to you last year about your garlic offer. How is that going? MU: We will export 5,000 tonnes in 2013. It is a drop on the pre-

We are about to install a production line that allows us to innovate in packaging, so that we can present different products in different ways

and manufacturing practices that govern us, such as ccof, ct-pat, Globalgap, sqf 2000 Level iii, usda and México Calidad Suprema. The use of technology is essential in all areas of the process, so we adopt increasingly efficient processes – to be fast and secure from the field to the shelf. We are determined to be ever

vious year caused by weather conditions: we got very low tem-

major exhibitions on different con-





peratures three weeks before har-

tinents. We also share information

energy as efficiently as possible;

vest that affected the yield and

about the requirements of interna-

rationing water through drip irri-

the quality.

tional markets to facilitate entry.

gation; cutting back on pesticides

Promotions have been focused

through integrated pest controls;

But everyone is still working hard

on the quality of Mexican garlic,

packaging our products in biode-

to raise the profile of Mexican

which has better taste, longer

gradable plastics and not bleach-

garlic around the world?

shelf-life and bigger cloves than

ing our cartons.

Chinese or South American garlic.

On top of all of this, we are very

MU: There are institutions that

In particular, we have been

open to helping our customers, lis-

are promoting Mexican products

highlighting all of the certifica-

tening to their needs and develop-

worldwide, through digital media,

tions we have that allow us to

ing the products that meet their

print media and a presence at

meet the needs of our customers.

requirements. _

trade mexico 2013/2014



REPORT —Berries

Beating the competition black and blue leÓn—In western Mexico a large organisation is nimble enough on its feet to move one step ahead of rivals from abroad. by Tobias Gourlay


ext to innovation, social

with selling the same produce in

The company has around 45 cus-



Europe from October to May. This

tomers for its berries around the

Berry Lovers lists respon-


means sending fruit, which is sensi-

world and is on the look-out for more.

siveness as one of the brand values

tive to temperature and even turbu-

In the 2012/13 season it has begun

that is integral to its way of doing

lence, as airfreight.

operations in Hong Kong and Dubai.

business. And, with the global finan-

Mexican exporters cannot sell

Although berries are not well known

cial crisis biting the blackberry

direct to Europe because of certifica-

in those markets, Berry Lovers hopes

market harder in Europe than else-

tion requirements on the continent,

to grow demand significantly.

where, it has moved quickly to refo-

especially in the UK and Germany.

Blueberries and raspberries will

cus its efforts.

“It is impossible for us to implement

drive the increase in European sales.

TOP—Berry Lovers

standards like brc because none of

Berry Lovers plans to expand produc-

as demand in North America, partic-

sends 2.5m cases

these organisations have offices in

tion of blueberries from 20ha to 150ha

ularly eastern Canada, has risen.

to North America

Mexico,” says Pablo López. Import-

over the next 7-10 years and of rasp-

ers such as Total Berry, which is

berries from 10ha to 50ha.

Prices in Europe have fallen just

It takes 2-6 days and two truck journeys for fruit grown in Los Reyes, Michoacán to reach the US

each year BOTTOM—Cristina

Domínguez and Pablo López

Berry Lovers’ main UK customer, are required to arrange certification.

“Mexico will become a more important blueberry supplier than

and Canada. This is organised by

In spite of the more complicated

Chile,” predicts López. Although the

Growers Union, the biggest all Mex-

process, Berry Lovers expects to raise

Chilean production is more concen-

ican-owned group of companies in

sendings to Europe from 200,000

trated – it produces 20 tonnes of fruit

the business.

2kg cases this season to 350,000

per ha, compared to 12-15 tonnes for

cases next time. Its North American

Mexico – proximity to major markets

exports currently total 2.5m cases.

gives Mexico a logistical advantage.

Switzerland-based Sofresco, part of the same organisation, is charged





times more expensive than growing blackberries, but this will be Berry Lovers’ major investment of the next few years. Buyers on the other side of the Atlantic are not as familiar with Mexican blueberries, so the first task for the growers is to show the world exactly what they can do. “Customers expect less than they see when they visit,” says Cristina Domínguez. “They see the investments we’ve made and the reality gives them a much better impression of Mexico.” _


trade mexico 2013/2014


REPORT —Diversification

Spurred on to diversify

RIGHT—The packhouse can now handle

100 tonnes of carrots a day

stomach anything more than US$6-8 for the same product.

aguascalientes—Garlic specialist Los Rancheros is refocusing its core business

With the worldwide financial crisis hitting Europe hard, managing director Sergio Narváez says

containers – we will send them as much as we can ship.”

the grower-exporter has redoubled

Although Los Rancheros farms four varieties of garlic

on the US market while

its focus on North America. It has

– white pearl, purple, purple striped and early Califor-

launching lines of carrots,

opened an office in Macallan, Texas,

nia – like growers the world over it is susceptible to unfa-

from where Lourdes Narváez co-ordi-

vourable weather. The crop is especially sensitive to rain

nates the distribution not only of Los

during the April-June harvest. To mitigate the risk, the

Rancheros’ own production, but also

company is committed to a policy of diversification.

broccoli and bell peppers. by Tobias Gourlay

that of other Mexican garlic growers.

In Los Rancheros’ hometown of Aguascalientes, there

Its own production stretches

is now a packhouse to accommodate the expansion of

to 4,000ha, of which around 40 per

other produce lines. Each day the facility can cope with

or three generations Los

cent is usually exported. The busi-

100 tonnes of the carrots that the business has been suc-

Rancheros has sent its pro-

ness has the infrastructure and agil-

cessfully supplying to the domestic and US markets.

duce around the world – to

ity to respond to orders with short

Los Rancheros already supplies dried chillies to the

Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe and

turnaround times. On and off it has

local market. In the greenhouses of its main production

South Africa –  and earned Mexican

supplied Brazil, a country that Sergio

base in Fresnillo – just across the Aguascalientes state

garlic a reputation for high quality

Narváez says consumes 1m 10kg

border with Zacatecas – bell peppers have been grow-

in the face of immense competition

boxes of garlic every month. In 2013 a

ing well and the plan is to sell to the US. Having supplied

from China, which grows around 70

window opened up for two weeks in

frozen broccoli to the horeca sector across the border, it is

per cent of all the garlic on Earth.

June between the end of the Argen-

making the first steps towards a fresh supply line.


Chinese output is up 30 per cent

tinean deal and the start of China’s

If the firm can establish new products while continu-

in 2013, cutting global prices in half:

offer. “We were asked: ‘Pack as much

ing to supply significant volumes of top-quality garlic to

the market paid US$12-15 a kilo in

as you can.’ So we worked around

clients at home and abroad, it will be a big name in fresh

2012, but 12 months on it will not

the clock and now one, two, four, ten

produce for another three generations and more. _

trade mexico 2013/2014





Experience makes the difference he b&s Exporter Group has

martínez de la torre—After 28 years growing, packing and marketing

grown consistently since

high-quality Persian limes, b&s is expanding and improving its production

taking its current name

after a merger in 2000 and, indeed,

process to satisfy the most demanding markets in the world.

since it was established as Empacadora Rojo Gómez in 1985.

by Tobias Gourlay

“We are a highly qualified team,” asserts ceo Enrique Saavedra Bonilla.

LEFT—Limes to the US now arrive with

“With honesty, creativity and perse-

better quality and a longer shelf-life

verance, we practise the highest standards of quality.”

of quality and safety.” b&s is officially

b&s believes those are the values

recognised by Globalgap, gsv, México

that deliver excellent results for

Calidad Suprema, Primusgfs, the

customers and bring success to a

Rainforest Alliance and Senasica.

business that provides social and eco-

In 2012 b&s exported just over

nomic stability to the lime-growing

4,800 tonnes of Persian limes to

community of central Veracruz.

Europe by sea and air. Its prima-

The company is confident it can

ry markets are France, Spain, Italy

still do more. In 2013 it is increasing

and the Netherlands. With improve-

its production capacity – its packing

ments in the field and at the

facilities will extend across 11,000m2

packhouse, b&s expects to raise pro-

– and redesigning its automated pro-

duction by 25 per cent in 2013 and

cesses to ensure the best possible company. We always aim to care for and preserve the envi-

sian limes. It has also opened 800m2

ronment.” b&s sends limes across the globe and in 2013

“We believe that the Persian lime

of coldstorage space.

its fruit will arrive at destinations in the US with better

has great potential and surely its

quality and a longer shelf-life, thanks to new pre-cooling

consumption will increase day by


day in the European market, and

These are b&s’s landmark endeavours, but it sweats the small stuff


it’s ready to bet its extra capacity

selection and packaging of its Per-

on Europe.

too. “Every day we improve our com-

“And in Japan we have captured 60 per cent of exports

we think that this market is a good

pliance with regulations requiring

to that country – always maintaining the quality stan-

opportunity for Mexican exporters,”

certificates of quality and good prac-

dards that the market requires.”

confirms Saavedra.

tice,” says Saavedra. “We recently

Quality certificates are an important distinction

The plan is to increase sendings to

obtained Primusgfs certification, and

around the world. “Certifications help you to take an order,

the Czech Republic, Germany and the

do not forget that we have also been

to be a responsible company and to make sure your prod-

UK, while entering countries such as

honoured as a socially responsible

uct arrives with the consumer at the best possible levels

Poland, Russia and Scandinavia. _

trade mexico 2013/2014

Ekland Marketing.indd 1

29/07/2013 11:56


Time to get serious mexico city—Mexico’s biggest banana producer-exporter believes a co-ordinated promotional nudge could help the country’s high-quality fresh produce reach and compete in more markets around the world. by Tobias Gourlay


ot, dry, temperate and cold: Mexico has four main climates and many variations within them. Around the high, rugged mountains of the north, open-field vegetable growers grapple

sometimes with winter frosts. In January 2013 tomato, pepper, pumpkin and courgette crops were damaged by the cold in Sonora and Sinaloa. On the eastern coastal plains of Veracruz, citrus producers spent the same month worrying about huanglongbing, the greening virus that thrives in the tropics

Company, “but Mexico, which start-

tic market, supplying supermarkets

and subtropics.

ed with a similar area of banana

such as Walmart, Costco, Chedraui

There are optimal conditions for growing banan-

production 25 years ago, has a non-

and Comercial Mexicana. Exports

as in south-eastern states, but geographical and climat-

specialist reputation. We have good

go to the US and Canada, of course,

ic diversity means Mexico is much more than a banana

quality; now we have to change

and San Carlos is established in

republic. A wide range of production can make it hard

mentality in order to build a strong

European markets (Bulgaria, Ger-

to define and promote a unified country brand, however.

image of Mexico as a reliable export-

many, Hungary, Italy and Montene-

er of consistent volumes.”

gro) and beyond (Iran).

“Ecuador is known as a banana producer,” says Elena Vergara Hauser, export manager of San Carlos


trade mexico 2013/2014

Founded in 1989, San Carlos has

Seventy per cent of its year-

been Mexico’s biggest banana pro-

round exports – around 30 con-

ducer since 1994. With 2,400 employ-

tainers a week – go to Europe, with

ees, the group controls 2,500ha of

northern Europe taking more than

banana production across Chiapas,

anyone else. Demand is strongest

Tabasco and Veracruz, yielding 7.2m

from July to September and still

boxes of bananas a year. It has a

increasing: recently confirmed con-

“very strong” position in the domes-

tracts will see San Carlos sending



Carlos has been Mexico’s biggest

“We need business – and government – to work with us on this,” says Vergara. “At the moment it can be

banana producer

cheaper to send fruit to Italy than

since 1994

Canada.” And Ecuador, which is fur-


ther away from Europe, still has

manager Elena

better transit times for Italy.

Vergara Hauser BELOW—Italy

and Germany

San Carlos is doing its bit: as well as opening a commercial office in

are among

Switzerland in October 2013, it has

its European

set up San Carlos Nigeria. With the


advantage of geographical proxim-


ity to Europe – and the historical

group controls 2,500ha of banana production in Mexico

leg-up of tariff-free entry into the European Union – African banana producers have been serious rivals to Mexican growers. Now they can become serious allies. On the same latitude as Ecuador, conditions in Nigeria are ripe for fruit production. San Carlos has acquired 2,000ha to be given over to banana plants and 1,000ha for dwarf pineapples. It will bring with it the specialist knowledge required to





ly and production should begin in

Seventy per cent of San Carlos’ year-round exports go to Europe, with Northern Europe taking more than anyone else

“The Russian market is strict, with

Because Mexico’s banana vol-

1,000ha in Isla, Veracruz. In fields protected

more than 20 containers a week to

umes are much smaller than, say,

from cold winds and freezing conditions, the

Italy throughout 2014.

August 2013.

lots of paperwork and high quality

In this way Vergara hopes San

requirements, but these have been

Carlos’ year-round production will


encourage the idea among interna-

If the volume continues to

tional buyers – and shipping lines –

increase, it could be enough for the

that Mexican exporters are “serious”

bulk cargo service from Dos Bocas

about their export markets. _

port in Tabasco. This would circumnavigate the problems that arise when San Carlos arranges ship-

Dwarf pineapples are San Carlos’s other main

ments to other markets.

product. Weighing 1-2.5kg, they are grown across

Ecuador’s – and because Mexi-

production cycle is 18 months and, when it’s

Russia is San Carlos’ next target.

can producers have not been able

ready to eat, the fruit is harvested manually, to

Trial shipments have been complet-

to guarantee constant volumes

minimise mechanical damage. In a temperature-

ed, prospective importers have been

throughout the year – reefer ship-

and humidity-controlled environment, the

to Cancún for discussions and, at

ping lines are reluctant to invest in

pineapples are selected, washed and refrigerated

the time of trade mexico’s visit, Ver-

the routes that would take Mexican

ahead of their distribution around the world. The

gara felt a contract for 40 containers

bananas to their destinations most

next step is to recreate this supply chain across

a week would be signed imminently.

quickly and cheaply.

1,000ha in Nigeria.

trade mexico 2013/2014




FESTIVAL SEASON STARTS EARLY The international licensing team of Ekland Marketing Company (Emco Cal) is preparing for the third year of its Festival

Safari the next step in Planasa’s Mexican venture michoacán—In 2010 Spanish soft fruit breeder Planasa Group launched Planamerica to develop new berry varieties for Mexican producers. Alexandre Pierron-Darbonne, Planasa’s managing director, outlines the progress it has made since then.

strawberry licensing programme in Mexico.

by Maura Maxwell

Festival is heavy yielding and early maturing. It is the first strawberry ready for each shipping season in Mexico – when the prices are highest. Its firmness means it ships very well, and with a long shelf-life. A glossy appearance and excellent taste create a favourable impression with consumers and store buyers, according to Erika Montañez, Emco Cal’s licensing executive for Mexico. The country’s marketers and exporters have traditionally supplied fresh strawberries to the domestic market and the rest of North America. “We are starting to see them open new markets. The industry is now airfreighting licensed Festival strawberries to Asia and Europe.” In recent years European Union customs authorities have seized many unlicensed shipments of


his year you’ve been very prolific in terms of

tropical climates such as Mexico

new varieties. What’s the latest news from

and Florida. It is what’s known as


an ‘infra short day’ cultivar, which

fresh strawberries, but Emco Cal has developed license

Alexandre Pierron-Darbonne: We’ve just launched

earlier than normal as it requires

programmes for new University

a strawberry, Safari, which grows very well in central

fewer photo-inductive cycles to

of Florida strawberry varieties

Mexico. We’re also starting to produce strawberry and

provoke flowering.

that carefully balance positive

raspberry plants from our state-of-the-art nurseries in

Designed to be planted in mid-

economic incentives with

Ciudad Guzmán in the state of Jalisco. Outside berries,

August, it starts to produce fruit in

rigorous enforcement against

we’re very excited about a new area of business for us:

November, with production peak-

the production of asparagus plants.

ing during December and January.

unlicensed shipments.

means it flowers substantially

Montañez is quick to point out that doing business

We believe it has the potential to Tell us a bit more about Safari.

in Mexico has been a “complete pleasure for Emco Cal, with no serious difficulties”. _TG


trade mexico 2013/2014

replace the current market leader, Festival, as it produces a superior

APD: Safari is an extra-early high-quality variety that

quality berry and is able to maintain

has been specially developed for production in sub-

its berry size much better during


January and February, when sizes usually start to be compromised.

technique developed by Planasa in Spain which enables us to deliver virtually limitless supplies of propa-

You introduced the Adelita rasp-

gation material within two years of

berry in 2011. How have sales



of cheap labour and is well served OPPOSITE—

Alexandre Pierron-Darbonne is Planasa’s MD

logistically – in short, it has all the ingredients for success. Up to now, the greatest barrier has been the lack of varieties developed specifically to suit the

Mexico wants to capitalise on its

local climate, but this is gradually

APD: Interest in the variety has

berry export potential. How should

changing as more breeders move in

truly surpassed our expectations.

it do this?

to exploit the country’s potential.

our exporters’ club, which we set

APD: Planasa has invested heavily

What other projects do you have

up to develop and test new varieties

in Mexico because we believe the

lined up for the coming years?

on the market, have thrown them-

country could become one of the

selves fully behind Adelita. Last

world’s leading berry exporters in

APD: Our blackberry breeding pro-

season there were just 10ha under

the short to medium term thanks

gramme is progressing rapidly and

production but, such has been

to its ability to produce extremely

we have a number of promising

the interest generated through-

high-quality fruit from October

selections lined up which we hope

out the supply chain – from grow-

right through to May.

to start trialling from next year. Our

The five companies who make up

ers to supermarket buyers – that we

The past five years have seen

objective is to bring the first new

expect this figure to rise to 150ha

an explosion in production and we

varieties to market by 2015 or 2016.

this season.

expect this to continue through

Eventually we hope to make Plan-

Part of this rapid expansion is

the next decade. Along with the

america the number-one berry

down to a new plant propagation

climate, Mexico has an abundance

breeder for the Mexican market. _

trade mexico 2013/2014




San Gabriel boosts European business martínez de la torre—The Persian lime exporter is enjoying a strong increase in sales in Europe, partly driven by greater volumes of better-quality fruit. by Steven Maxwell


ased in the Veracruz city of Martínez de la Torre, San Gabriel is in the heart

of the country’s Persian lime production region, but has lately been making a name for itself outside

San Gabriel’s lime exports soon

its traditional sector. The company

began to pick up speed, with 9-10 con-

made headlines during 2013 when its

tainers shipped to Europe each week

managing director, Rolando Olivares,

during June and July. Rodrigues con-

was elected municipal president of

fidently predicts that the company

into production,” he explains. “The quality is also better

Martínez de la Torre, representing a

will ship substantially more limes

than last year and people are happy with the fruit that

coalition headed by the ruling Insti-

to European markets during 2013 –

they have been receiving so far.”

tutional Revolutionary Party.

approximately 6,300 tonnes – with

Although sendings are expected to decrease slight-

improved fruit quality helping to

ly during August, Rodrigues predicts that volumes will

boost demand and sales.

recover quickly, with shipments expected to reach June-

Despite Olivares’ election, San Gabriel is keen to emphasise that

helping to raise San Gabriel’s profile at home and abroad

business rather than politics remains

“The season started a little later

its primary concern and that, when it

than usual, but there are plenty of

comes to Persian lime production, it

limes on the ground and there are

“There is more fruit being exported to Europe because

continues to make progress in Euro-

more volumes being shipped than

the quality allows for that,” he says. “Last year the same

pean export markets.

last year due to new orchards coming

amount of fruit was available, but it was badly affected by

Pedro Rodrigues, head of European subsidiary San Gabriel UK, says the company expects to ship 20 per cent more limes to Europe in 2013 than it did during the year before, and the increase is being driven by strong market demand. The positive result should come despite the 2013 campaign getting off to something of a rocky start, with exports to Europe beginning four weeks later than normal in late April,


ABOVE—Rolando Olivares (left) and Pedro Rodrigues are

After a late start to the season San Gabriel sent 9-10 containers of limes to Europe each week during June and July

July levels again in September and stay strong through to the close of 2013.

rain and, with lower quality, lower volumes were shipped. This year fruit quality is better, so more is being shipped.” With an average transit time of 21-22 days from Mexico to Europe, Rodrigues says Mexican lime exporters “need to be comfortable” with the quality of the fruit they are sending to “avoid any problems with sales”. He estimates that around half of all San Gabriel’s European exports come into the UK, with the balance going into Rotterdam for distribution across Europe. The company, which was established in Mexico in 1989, currently sends its Persian limes to ten countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

partly due to weather-related factors,

San Gabriel UK was opened in the south-eastern

but also as a result of a “much better”

county of Kent in 2009 to develop a greater presence for

market in the US during the early

the exporter in Europe and that is exactly what it is on

part of the year.

target to achieve this year. _

trade mexico 2013/2014


Flying high guadalajara—Berry exporters are spreading their wings and reducing their reliance on nearby North American markets. by Tobias Gourlay


neberries turned three years old on 1 June 2013. There was pause for celebration, but not for long. That same month, the national association of berry exporters’ president, Mario Steta,

flew to China and South Korea as part of a Sagarpa-led trade mission. Aneberries’ international ambitions are in line with those of the Mexican government, which is working to secure formal access to a number of Asian countries. To enter new markets successfully, there must be internal improvements too. The association, which works with 2,000 farmers, has two areas of focus: phytosanitary standards and food safety.

GuadalajaraHong Kong flights will begin in the second half of 2013 and the frequency could double next season



EAST SENDERS “There is lots falling into place in Asia too,” says Steta. Jalisco’s state government has worked hard to bring direct flights to Hong Kong from Guadalajara. The closest airport for Jalisco’s growers has invested in cold-chain management as part of an expansion of its cargo facilities. The Hong Kong flights will begin in the second half of 2013. There will be three a week at first, but the frequency could be

Working closely with government and private certifi-

beyond the US and Canada. After

cations, Steta has appointed a specialist to study safety

going twice to Berlin for Fruit Logis-

double next season. In October 2012 Mexico entered

risks in the supply chain, audit the farmers and produce

tica, it has strengthened its presence

talks about the Trans-Pacific Part-

a better methodology for production. The results of the

around northern Europe, particular-

nership, which could bring the kind

association’s US$5m investment will be made available to

ly in France, Germany and the UK.

of access to Japan, Malaysia, Singa-

everyone in Mexico’s berry sector.

With Lufthansa joining Air France

pore and Vietnam that Chile already

Spotted wing drosophila, the invasive pest from South

in flying direct from Guadalajara to

enjoys in Singapore under the earli-

East Asia that has recently been found in Europe and

Europe – and perhaps increasing the

er Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic

North America, has brought forward Aneberries’ overhaul

frequency of its twice-weekly service

Partnership Agreement.

of its integrated pest management programmes. A second

next season – there is room for Ane-

As well as Japan and South Korea,

new hire will help manage this area.

berries to grow its offer some more.

China is a major focus. As competi-

Opportunities have also emerged in

tors in the US market, general trade


the Middle East and Russia, where

relations between Mexico and China

Confident in the quality of its berries, the industry at

volumes are not yet big, but they are

have sometimes been strained, but

large has spent the last few years expanding its business

being consolidated.

president Xi Jinping visited Mexico

trade mexico 2013/2014


within three months of his appoint-

ment”, and not an attempt to replace Europe in its port-

are optimised for export. Genetics

ment and the formal opening of

folio of destinations. “Economic logic says there will be an

was the focus of Aneberries’ second

China to Mexican berries is close.

opportunity in China for a few years, but eventually it will

international berry congress, where it

have its own production.”

emerged that useful work was being

Aneberries has the documentation that China demands and has

Although the financial crisis has raised an issue

done in Australia and Florida but,

filed it with Senasica, who will pres-

around payment collection in some of the worst-affect-

for blackberries in particular, Steta

ent it to Chinese authorities.

ed European countries, none of Aneberries’ members are

says the very best varieties will be

“It will take time but the aim is to

abandoning the continent. “For the right quality, our cus-

bred locally.

open these markets to the four differ-

tomers are always willing to pay and, with logistical and

ent berries as a package,” says Steta.

varietal developments, we are getting better and better.”

As improvements are made all the way along the supply chain and

Blackberries will arrive first, then

Mexican produce has a chance in the Middle East too.

the berry sector’s ambitions soar to

raspberries, blueberries – for which

In competition with southern African and European sup-

new heights, Steta remains ground-

there is a wide window from Sep-

pliers, there is a cost challenge, but Steta believes the high

ed. “We must not forget the input of

tember to May – and strawberries. If

quality of Aneberries’ fruit could make a difference.

the growers, particularly the small-

everything goes to plan, more than

Having caught the attention of state and federal gov-

er ones.” At the third Congreso

10 per cent of Aneberries’ exports –

ernments – by creating up to 100,000 jobs a season – the

Internacional Aneberries towards

by volume and value – will soon go

berry industry should soon find itself behind only the

the end of 2013, “We will show them

beyond the US and Canada. Within

tomato and avocado sectors as an exporter of Mexican

how important they are to the

four years, the value of its non-North

fresh fruit.

whole industry.” _





around US$100m.

The traditional growing area of Michoacán and the burgeoning industry in Jalisco could be joined by produc-

Steta is keen to point out that the

ers from the Baja California peninsula. Jalisco’s expan-

focus on Asia is an “expansion ele-

sion will be driven by the development of varieties that

OPPOSITE—Aneberries’ Mario Steta trade mexico 2013/2014



REPORT —Anniversary

TIMELINE 1963 Coliman is founded as a family business by Custodio Aguilar Malaga with tropical fruit production in Tecomán, Colima in western Mexico.

Coliman celebrates 50 years in business hermosillo—After half a century growing and exporting fresh produce, Coliman believes its products are second to none for flavour, quality and nutritional value. by Gill McShane

he Coliman Group cele-

Jorge Aguilar junior, the group’s cor-

for the consolidation of the group,

brates its fiftieth anni-

porate divisional director. “It was

commercially speaking.”

versary in 2013 with a

founded by my grandfather, Custo-

Subsequently, Victor and Custodio

re-commitment to offering top qual-

dio Aguilar Malaga, 50 years ago and

joined their brother Jorge and opened

ity, flavour and food safety across

was mainly dedicated to banana and

several branches across the Baja Cali-

its impressive product range, which

mango production. He was only a

fornia peninsula. As the group contin-

is grown according to ten certifica-

grower, so he didn’t market the prod-

ued to grow so did the need for sales

tion standards, marketed under six

ucts directly, but they were exported

diversification. This led the Coliman

brands and exported to 11 countries.

to the US, Canada and Japan, as well

group to become a producer of avoca-

as sold in different states in Mexico.”

dos, bananas, papayas and Key limes


“The group was born in the state of Colima, hence the name,” explains


trade mexico 2013/2014

The young director recalls how

in Colima, Michoacán and Chiapas

his father, Jorge Aguilar senior, and

for distribution throughout Mexico’s

his uncles, Victor and Custodio Agu-

Pacific and northern regions. Later,

ilar, were introduced to the family

it started growing vegetables such as

business. “My father, the eldest

celery and broccoli in Sonora.

son, worked with my grandfather

“Due to the large sales volume, as

throughout his childhood, but he

we grew other needs presented them-

wanted to leave Colima and start his

selves, so we opened specialised divi-

own business.”

sions such as a refrigerated trucking

At just 19 years of age, Aguilar

company and a plastic-carton man-

senior went to visit different states

ufacturing facility for the proper

across Mexico and 35 years ago he

distribution and packaging of our

saw in Hermosillo, Sonora a com-

products,” says Aguilar junior.

mercially virgin territory full of

Once established with sever-

opportunities. “Here he distributed

al distribution centres in Mexico,

his father’s produce,” Aguilar junior

the time came for Coliman to enter

explains. “It was a small business but,

other markets. More than ten years

as the years passed, he started doing

ago the firm opened its first US office

well and thanks to the work he did

in Phoenix, Arizona, from where it

in Hermosillo he was the catalyst

mainly distributed its star product –

1978 The group formally consolidates with the opening of its first commercial centre in Hermosillo, Sonora, led by Jorge Aguilar senior, followed by several branches in Baja California. 1990s Coliman’s offer expands to include more tropical fruit and vegetables grown in Colima, Chiapas and Michoacán. 2000s Commercial and distribution centres are established in the US as well as a refrigerated trucking firm and a packaging manufacturer. 2013 Coliman celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with 4,000 employees and an export presence in three continents.


LEFT—The firm has gradually expanded

its fresh produce offer OPPOSITE TOP—(l-r) Custodio Aguilar jr,

Jorge Aguilar sr, Don Custodio Aguilar, Jorge Aguilar jr and Victor Aguilar OPPOSITE BOTTOM—Bananas are still

Coliman’s star export item

company’s biggest product. “We will continue focusing on our leading products – those that have given us growth and strength – since that’s what we do best. Thank you all for your preference and loyalty to the brand and Coliman Group during bananas – to the southern US. Following that success, Coli-

of the company and its product, and

these last fifty years. We will contin-

man began supplying bananas and avocados in impor-

gives confidence to employees, cus-

ue working to offer the best service

tant volumes to Europe, before realising the untapped

tomers and suppliers.

and quality.” _

potential in Asia.

Among the company’s strategic

Aguilar junior attributes Coliman’s success to the firm’s

plans for the future, Aguilar junior

full control of its processes – from planting and harvest-

singles out the medium-term aims of

ing through to distribution and handling.

tapping into the central and eastern

“Our clients are advised about the proper management

US markets – home to large Latin

of our fruits in order to retain the quality and ensure good

American populations – and dou-

presentation until the product reaches the final consum-

bling its banana exports to Europe.

er,” he explains. “There may be other companies that offer

Within Mexico, Coliman also has

the same products as us, but they don’t have the same

plans for expansion. Since its banana-

quality control.”

producing fields are located in the

This is one of Coliman’s strengths, according to Agu-

south of the country, Aguilar junior

ilar junior, and one which gives the company a solid

reveals that distribution and market-

advantage over its competitors. As a third-generation

ing centres will be established in

leader of the company, he has pledged his commitment

southern Mexico in a bid to consoli-

to upholding the philosophy of value that his grandfa-

date the presence of Coliman’s

ther started, which he believes is reflected in the quality

bananas, which continue to be the


Watch Coliman’s fiftieth anniversary video and see the growing success of the company.

trade mexico 2013/2014



REPORT —Transport & logistics

AGF steps up to export challenge

the coming months, for example, one of the key projects we’ll be working on is shipments of mangoes and lemons to Japan.”

mexico city—Access Global Forwarding (agf) expects to see double-digit growth in its fresh produce volumes in 2013 as the domestic industry broadens its export horizons.

Ramírez reports that volumes of Mexican fruit and vegetables trucked to other markets in Central America are also expanding rapidly. “Each and every one of our customers is allocated a dedicated member of the agf team specialising in the transportation of their particular

by Maura Maxwell

product, as well as an account executive who handles the operational side of the account, thereby ensuring that our know-how is transmitted and applied right along the


ounded in 2007 and based in Mexico City, agf is a logistics



BELOW—María Reyna Ramírez handles

agf’s pricing and international traffic

supply chain.” According to Ramírez, Mexico still lacks the coldchain infrastructure necessary to ensure that fresh pro-

viding air, maritime and overland

duce reaches the market in a state of optimal quality.

transport for customers throughout

Specifically, she points to insufficient coldstorage capac-


ity and a shortage of high-quality refrigerated trucks,

María Reyna Ramírez, who handles the firm’s pricing and interna-

suggesting that both must be improved if the industry is to expand further.

tional traffic, says 2013 has brought a

“By the same token, the growers themselves need to

considerable increase in the volume

invest in new technologies in order to maximise their

of Chilean blueberry imports, as well

opportunities as this would benefit not just them but

as exports of pineapples and straw-

also the consumer.”

berries, among other products. She

While there is advisory and financial assistance avail-

estimates that fresh produce cur-

able to growers to help them expand into overseas mar-

rently accounts for around a quarter

kets, Ramírez claims there is often a gulf between some

of agf’s sales volume and that this

government institutions and producers that can be dif-

figure could rise to 35 per cent by the

ficult to bridge.

end of 2013.

“I can point to a number of our customers who only

“We believe we have an important

decided to start exporting their produce on the advice of

role to play in supporting the coun-

agf, as we were able to provide the international logistics

try’s burgeoning export industry. In

advice they needed to take that first step.” _

Logistics is our specialty, transport our passion • Reefer containers 48´and 53´ to the USA, Canada and Central America • Express customs clearance • Cooled cargo reception and consolidation at the Airport of Mexico City • Picking and transportation all around the country • Service 365 days a year Access Global Forwarding S.A DE C.V Head Office: Col. La Condesa México | Operations Office and warehouse: Beside MEX airport +52 (55) 57851048 |,


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31/07/2013 10:04

Trade Mexico 2013-2014