Our In-Market Representative for Mexico explores the possibilities for Northeast seafood products in the Mexican market.
Food Export–Northeast checked in with Raul Caballero, CEO/Director General of Mercalimentos Consultores and Food Export’s In-Market Representative for Mexico, to discuss burgeoning trends in the HRI sector, Mexican seafood consumption, and more. Raul shares his perspectives on everything from the type of consumer suppliers will want to target with their marketing efforts, to what products are already performing well across various Mexican regions.
Q: What can you tell us about seafood consumption in Mexico? Is seafood eaten more at home or in restaurants? Why is Mexico a good export market for Northeast US seafood suppliers?
A: Seafood is very popular in Mexico – Mexicans love a good shrimp cocktail or fish fillet. Mexico is a large producer of seafood and much of the supply is consumed locally. There are many types available but certain seafood products that are not produced in Mexico are usually imported from abroad (e.g., salmon is a good example). Mexicans eat seafood in both restaurants and at home, and the frequency varies depending on the region. It’s safe to say that the closer to the ocean, the higher the frequency for seafood consumption.
Q: How important is the tourism sector for seafood consumption in Mexico?
A: The tourism sector in Mexico is very important when thinking about seafood consumption. The key preference for Mexican dishes is that they’re prepared fresh and from scratch. Although the foodservice segment continues to evolve, use of prepared foods has increased so chefs can be more efficient with time. Both local and imported fish and shellfish are consumed frequently in the tourism sector across Mexico. Both frozen and fresh products are of interest to chefs.
Q: Do you think there are opportunities for high-value Northeast US seafood products (e.g., American lobster products)? If so, what might those look like?
A: There are very specific products that perform very well in various countries or regions – performance and interest is dependent on local preference, consumption habits, and transportation costs for the products. Certain foreign seafood species are easily recognized by Mexicans and are always in demand. For example, imported flounder, salmon, crab legs, and American lobster are appealing to consumers that have tasted them before. Imported seafood consumption is higher for the upper class, but overall, the purchasing power is there. For Northeast US suppliers considering marketing their products in Mexico, the consumer they’ll want to target is the one that eats a $200 steak at a nice restaurant.
Q: Do you see any emerging trends for 2022 in the Mexico market for seafood (specifically in the HRI sector – e.g., consumer seafood consumption, how the sector will get consumers excited about new menu items and offerings, etc.)?
A: Variety, price, and trial are factors that need to be taken into consideration for marketing efforts deployed in Mexico in 2022 – especially when introducing a new product to the market. Some products, like American Lobster, may already have consumer familiarity, but more education and promotion are necessary in the food service sector so that chefs consider including these products on their menus more regularly.
Q: What suggestions do you have for Northeast US seafood suppliers who are interested in learning more about the potential for exports to Mexico?
A: 2021 US Seafood exports to Mexico exceeded pre-pandemic levels with an 11-month total of $77.4 million (note: December stats not available yet). Our recommendation is to utilize the no-cost Food Export Helpline to learn if a company’s seafood product(s) might have market potential. Food Export–Northeast’s Virtual Consultations and Market Builder services can then help suppliers zero-in on customized information and opportunities.
If you’re attending Seafood Expo North America and are interested in having a no-cost, 30-minute meeting with Raul, register today as meeting slots are scheduled on a first come, first serve basis. Learn more about how Food Export–Northeast collaborates with international partners and our In-Market Representatives to provide suppliers with valuable trade insights and relationship building opportunities for new markets.
About Food Export USA – Northeast
With its extensive programs and educational offerings, Food Export USA–Northeast (Food Export–Northeast) is recognized as the preeminent expert and cost-effective resource for Northeast seafood and agricultural suppliers looking to sell their products overseas. Founded in 1973, Food Export–Northeast is a non-profit organization that works collaboratively with its 10 member states’ agricultural promotion agencies from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, to facilitate trade between suppliers and worldwide importers and to promote the export of food, agricultural and seafood products from those states. Since its founding, the organization has helped Northeast seafood suppliers gain access to a broad range of export markets, supported overseas in-market educational and promotional programs and offers emerging suppliers access to funds to help grow their export business. The organization is funded through the Market Access Program (MAP), administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
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