U.S. Barley Farmers Toast To Trade Relationship With Mexican Brewers During Cerveza México

Cerveza México brands itself as “the most complete beer event in Latin America,” bringing together the entire beer production chain under one roof. Four U.S. barley farmers joined this year’s conference, arranged by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), to connect Mexican brewers directly with those growing the most important ingredient in their recipes.

The Council has participated in Cerveza México for the past five years as part of the organization’s work to increase U.S. barley and malt sales to the growing brewing sector. This year’s event was the 10th Cerveza México, with 160 brewers and brewing organizations present.

“Cerveza México is an interactive space to talk about beer and meeting the end-consumers of U.S. malted barley,” said Javier Chavez, USGC marketing specialist in Mexico. “The expo is a unique space for meeting the full craft brewing industry as it brings together the beer production chain, producers and importers of beer, suppliers and packagers.”

Attending Cerveza México helps participants develop opportunities for additional exports of U.S. malt to Mexico and allows them to make connections with current and potential buyers.

“Visiting trade shows is a great source of market information,” Chavez said. “There, we meet with participants from previous USGC missions and learn about how their operations are continuing to expand while sharing firsthand information on this year’s barley crop from the United States.”

Mexican beer production is increasing, due primarily to growth in exports to the United States, the United Kingdom, Colombia and Australia, among many other destinations. Beer production has grown 6 percent, with exports growing 8.3 percent year-over-year. This growth can be seen both in the craft brewing sector and for major brands like Constellation, with whom the USGC delegation met while in Mexico City.

“It was such an eye-opening experience to see how much potential there is in Mexico with the developing craft brewing industry,” said Jeremy Stoddard, barley farmer from Idaho, for whom the event was his first trip to Mexico and his first market development mission. “It was also very good meeting with Constellation. We just started growing barley for them this year. It was nice to see the growth they are experiencing in the high-end beer market.”

Mexican breweries rely on U.S. barley producers like Stoddard to be their main suppliers for imported barley. In contrast to competing European suppliers who typically sell through brokers, Mexican buyers can purchase directly from U.S. malt producers, saving on cost and improving on malt quality.

Mexico dominates the market for U.S. barley/barley product exports, purchasing 402,000 metric tons (18.5 million bushels) in 2018/2019, valued at $217 million, up 2 percent year-over-year.

“Due to logistical advantages, brands like Constellation are contracting directly with farmers in North Dakota, Montana and Idaho,” Chavez said. “In turn, the Council and its partners in the U.S. barley industry provide continuous education for these brewers, allowing for a deeper understanding and knowledge of market prices, pricing dynamics and field insights such as quality, volume and crop conditions.”

The Council is also working with the craft beer industry to determine how best to address constraints for increased buying, including consideration of forming a purchasing group to help consolidate demand and take additional advantage of pricing logistics and the existing transportation network between the United States and Mexico.

While in Mexico, the U.S. barley farmers also met with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) representatives in-country to provide insight on the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship. While the United States still dominates market share, malted barley imports from France, Belgium, Russia and Ukraine now can also enter the Mexican market duty-free – making the access provided by North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and preserved in the pending United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) more important than ever.

Learn more about the Council’s work to promote U.S. barley and malt sales to Mexico.