Craft Beer Industry Grows Demand For Barley In Mexico

The craft beer industry in Mexico has grown tenfold in just four years due in large part to the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) trade servicing efforts and its continuing push to capitalize on Mexican consumer demand to benefit those U.S. barley farmers who supply the industry.

Cristina Barba, general director of Mexico’s Craft Brewers Association (ACERMEX), revealed this growth statistic at the Mexico Beer Congress in late October.

Mexico sustained its ranking as the top market for U.S. barley and barley products in 2020/2021, totaling 412,000 metric tons (18.9 million bushels). The nation purchased over half (54.4%) of the U.S. barley and barley products exported this marketing year.

Although small, the craft brewing industry in Mexico is growing, and while it may not reach the size of the commercial beer industry, it does use malt in a larger proportion. Logistically, connecting Mexican brewers with U.S. malt producers will create greater opportunities since shipments arrive via truck instead of vessels.

“Mexico’s craft brewers’ market is a new market that is growing,” said Javier Chavez, USGC marketing specialist in Mexico. “By taking advantage of the proximity to the U.S., we want to connect the brewers to U.S. malt producers and source their main ingredient directly through them.”

Craft brewing is no longer viewed as a casual hobby in Mexico; the number of craft brewers is growing. Beer is currently the country’s largest agricultural export, requiring 500,000 tons of malted barley and 343,000 tons of raw barley each year to keep up with demand.

To consolidate demand for U.S. malt containers in the country, the Council’s Mexico office has invited a procurement specialist to help organize a buying group within ACERMEX. The Council is working with the group to create a more competitive barley market in Mexico.

Additionally, U.S. farmers have implemented sustainable farming practices when producing barley, which is important to the beer industry in Mexico, giving the U.S. an edge over other barley producing countries.

“The craft beer industry in Mexico is being driven by innovative entrepreneurs who have grown their sector despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. This success is fueled by the brewers’ ability to find creative solutions to overcome market barriers, and they are now actively looking for economic solutions to the rising costs of their inputs,” said Heidi Bringenberg, USGC assistant director in Mexico.

“Since we have provided them with the concept, strategy and consultants to execute this, we believe ACERMEX will choose to implement the buying group, that would assure the dependable supply of high-quality U.S. malt for its growing membership.”

Learn more about the Council’s work in Mexico.