Lia Bijnsdorp
Managing Director
United Producers of Mexico-UPM
/
Expert Contributor

‘Thank You for Your Business, Mexico’

By Lia Bijnsdorp | Mon, 06/20/2022 - 09:00

“Thank you for your business, Mexico!” This is what we all wish to hear each time an agricultural export has arrived on any international market: buyers who are pleased with a professional and well-executed sourcing program will make for lasting relationships.

In past articles, we have set forth the different challenges that the agro-sector in Mexico faces on the European and other international markets.

As these challenges have already been outlined in detail previously, the need for a structured action plan has become more apparent and can only be taken by the exporting sector. Currently, there is an individualistic approach among exporters, which has created competition instead of working together, even though all exporters face the same challenges, as it is the market that sets the quality standards.

This individualistic approach has resulted in a mixed image of exporters from Mexico, which affects each exporter in a particular market. International buyers know each other, talk to each other, and whenever any of the buyers has had a negative experience with Mexican exporters, it permeates the collective memory of importers, distributors and supermarket sourcing managers. Even though there are many experienced, qualified exporters, it is often an uphill battle when their potential clients already have a certain image encrusted in their memory. Each time a new Mexican supplier knocks on his or her door, previous experience is what is often going through the mind of a potential buyer.

Fortunately, Mexico still has time to reverse this image as its offer of agricultural products is large and diverse and there are many very professional and experienced exporters already present in the different markets that Mexico ships its fruit products to. It is necessary to work together on all export levels to face challenges through a structured and organized Quality Export Program, where improvements are implemented in an orchestrated manner.

The Mexican agricultural export sector has all the necessary elements to change this image into a constant positive among buyers but only by setting up a structured export program, where each exporter has to adopt the same protocols and standards. Doing so will change the image in the minds of the buyers of Mexican exports, based on good results for all. When a solid export program is supported by a promotional program, the result is positive and market presence and volume increase. s

The benefits of uniting the different exporting sectors of Mexico are many. First of all, it is important to realize that promotion by itself will not be sufficient if the quality of the exported products is not at a premium level. Premium fruits need to be supported by a premium treatment, from soil and preharvest techniques to postharvest treatments and logistics. A Premium Collective Brand can then be developed as an industry. A brand that requires care in each step to guarantee that the quality is maintained by all participants in the sector.

An independent organism that creates this structure of quality for agribusiness can be a consortium of growers and exporters that work together with the common goal of providing good quality as well as economic results. Optimization of export channels requires solutions that improve market opportunities. The current structure of sectoral growers and packers associations is an excellent starting point to integrate all fruit sectors into one consortium or organization with clear export standards and presence in the countries of destination.

The current structure that the USDA has developed for agro exports to the US in order to  maintain a firm grip on plague control is a good example of required checkpoints from the orchards to the US market. On the contrary, for export to other international markets, there is very little structure in place, where all participants need to comply with premium standards.

Digitalization and technology are becoming increasingly useful in the agricultural sector, as many applications have been developed that support the different aspects of the chain: apps to help farmers determine the best techniques for the growing process and many tools that generate data that keep track of all quality evaluations during the postharvest processes. Each year, more growers use drones to monitor their orchards and other devices that measure the quality of the fruit with greater accuracy for better results. All these precision developments result both in less food waste as well as in better economic results and a higher prestige among buyers.

The tools are available for Mexican growers and fruit exporters to become top performers in all international markets. The need for unity is as necessary as ever before, since markets are becoming more digitalized and buyers prefer working directly with professional growers that already have experience in exporting their products.

All the elements for such a collective structure for the export markets outside of the US are available; the next step is to implement the necessary protocols and inspection points one by one to generate high export standards, which will ultimately benefit the entire Mexican export sector for agricultural products.

As the national and local associations of growers and packhouses unite to implement this structure, the results and Mexico’s image on these international markets will place the country on a world-class export level, with a strong focus on sustainability, social fairness and transparency. Teamwork allows faster progress for all.

Photo by:   Lia Bijnsdorp