Tomato exports from Mexico beat record

Tomato exports from Mexico broke a record in 2020 and maintained an upward trend in the first quarter of 2021.

After growing 20.6% in 2020, to 2.603 million dollars, Mexican tomato exports increased 5.1% in the first quarter of the current year, to 830 million dollars, at year-on-year rates, according to data from the Ministry of Economy.

Mexico is the largest producer of greenhouse tomatoes and accounts for 57% of greenhouse vegetable sales in North America, followed by Canada and the United States.

But measured in volume, exports of tomatoes from Mexico contracted 1.6% in 2020, to 1 million 824,996 tons.

On the other hand, these external sales totaled 579,061 tons in the first three months of the current year, an advance of 9.2% year-on-year.

From a broader perspective, the greenhouse vegetable industry in North America has seen rapid growth over the past 20 years, particularly in the western regions of the United States, southwestern British Columbia, and southern Ontario in Canada. and areas concentrated in Mexico.

According to 2016 US government figures, greenhouse tomatoes accounted for more than 45% of tomato volume sold in US retail stores.

In addition, according to Village Farms International, it is estimated that retail sales represent more than 50% of the total US market for fresh tomatoes, both in the field and in the greenhouse.

The balance of fresh tomato sales goes to the foodservice industry, which is served primarily by field tomato growers.

Exports from Mexico

Although Mexico was the last country to enter the greenhouse tomato industry in North America, it has more greenhouse tomato acreage than the United States and Canada combined.

There is no formal definition of “greenhouse” and a significant portion of the greenhouse acreage in Mexico is very low-tech shade field structures.

The product of the shade facilities is marketed in some cases as greenhouse grown, which until the recent update of the Suspension Agreement between the United States and Mexico, did not violate any regulations, but for the State of California, which has a strict definition greenhouse cultivation for products sold within the state.

Village Farms International states that average yields and product quality in Mexico are low compared to greenhouse operations in the United States and Canada.

Currently, Mexican growers tend to grow most of their production during the fall, winter and spring seasons, since they have sufficient light levels to grow and cooler temperatures during these months, although the trend towards more sophisticated greenhouses is allowing a longer growing season, as well as higher yields.

Mexican production

Over the past few years, the Mexican greenhouse industry has continued to make significant strides in its growing experience and ability to extend its growing season, which continues to put pressure on product prices.

Mexican growers continue to invest in greenhouses and other technologies to improve production and yields.

Since the greenhouse industry is a labor intensive business, labor costs are a significant part of overhead.

Mexico has a considerable salary advantage over the United States mainly due to the lower cost of living in Mexico.

Mexico’s minimum wage is 141.70 Mexican pesos per day or approximately $ 7.10 per day compared to the United States federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 per hour.