Trade and production: Mexico

Mexico, in Central America, is bordered by the USA, Guatemala and Belize. It has a population of 127 million. GDP is currently US$1.4 trillion and GDP growth is 3.1% (World Bank, 2023).

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Agriculture is an important part of the economy at 4.1% of GDP and employs about 12% of the labour force (World Bank, 2023). Agriculture’s share of GDP declined quite rapidly during the 1980s.

The main crops are maize, coffee, beans, avocados and vanilla. Mexico also produces a significant amount of livestock products, mainly beef, pork and chicken.

The UK does not currently have market access for beef, lamb or dairy products into Mexico.

Production, trade and consumption


Mexico is a major beef-exporting country and production has been increasing in recent years due to the good export value of beef to the USA.

Beef consumption in Mexico is high but has remained relatively stable in recent years. This suggests that the increase in production is probably driven by increasing exports.

Mexico exported £1.23 billion of beef on average between 2019 and 2021. The main destination for beef exports was the USA (86%), with smaller amounts heading to Japan, Canada and South Korea.

Mexico is also a big importer of beef, buying in 126 Kt (worth nearly £650m) on average each year. The key supplier between 2019 and 2021 was the USA, who provided 94 Kt each year; another key supplier was Canada, who supplied 14 Kt a year.

Table 1. Beef annual production and trade (2019−2021 average)

Production (Kt) 2,000 912
Total exports (Kt) 274 118
Total imports (Kt) 126 237

Source: Trade Data Monitor, OECD

Sheep meat

Sheep meat consumption in Mexico is markedly lower than beef and pork, at 0.8 kg per person per year. As a result there is only a limited amount of domestic production.

Between 2019 and 2021, a modest average of 4 Kt of sheep meat was imported (worth £11.5m) to supplement domestic production. The main suppliers were Australia and New Zealand.

Table 2. Sheep meat annual production and trade (2019−2021 average)

Production (Kt) 105 290
Total exports (Kt) 1 84
Total imports (Kt) 4 55

Source: Trade Data Monitor, OECD


Pig production is the second largest meat industry (after poultry) in Mexico, with a couple of large companies making up half of the country’s total production.

Pork consumption is currently 14.27 kg per person per year and pork is the second most consumed meat in Mexico. Consumption is expected to grow over the next decade, resulting in an increase in production and imports.

Mexico is one of the biggest pork importers in the world. An average of 944 Kt of pork per year was imported between 2019 and 2021, worth almost £1.25bn. The key suppliers were the USA and Canada, who made up 99% of imports.

Mexico exported an average of 227 Kt of pork per year between 2019 and 2021, worth £650m. The key export markets were Japan, China and the USA.

Table 3. Pork annual production and trade (2019−2021 average)

Production (Kt) 1,638 991
Total exports (Kt) 227 231
Total imports (Kt) 944 370

Source: Trade Data Monitor, OECD


Mexico has a large dairy industry, and milk production has been increasing annually. Dairy production comprises predominantly small-scale operations, although several larger companies have recently been increasing production.

Butter consumption is currently 1.75 kg per person per year and cheese is 3.6 kg. Consumption of dairy products is expected to continue to increase over the next decade. Although dairy consumption in Mexico is the lowest of North American countries, there is still some reliance on imports of some products to satisfy demand.

Mexico imported 4.4 Kt of butter per year on average between 2019 and 2021 (worth £17m), mainly from the USA, New Zealand and the EU. Mexico exported a small amount of butter, just over 700 t per year between 2019 and 2021 (worth £2.5m), which was predominantly exported to Cuba and the USA.

Mexico produces around 334 Kt of cheese each year, mainly artisanal cheeses for regional demand. Between 2019 and 2021, Mexico imported 122 Kt of cheese per year on average, worth £425m. Nearly 80% of imports came from the USA, with the remainder from the EU and New Zealand. Mexico exports a small amount of cheese. On average, between 2019 and 2021, 10 Kt of cheese (worth £28m) was exported, mainly heading to the USA and Chile.

Table 4. Butter annual production and trade (2019–2021 average)

Production (Kt) 204 202
Total exports (Kt) 0.7 61
Total imports (Kt) 4.4 69

Source: Trade Data Monitor, OECD

Table 5. Cheese annual production and trade (2019–2021 average)

Production (Kt) 334 488
Total exports (Kt) 10 183
Total imports (Kt) 122 470

Source: Trade Data Monitor, OECD

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